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A Tale of Two Cities, Book 2, Ch. 4: The Golden Thread

February 3, 2010 · 11 Comments · A Tale of Two Cities, Reader Responses

golden thread

In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens uses the characters Lucie Manette, Monsieur Manette, and the metaphor of the golden thread to emphasize the theme that only a very strong bond can give someone the will to be resurrected. When we first encounter Monsieur Manette, he is a broken man: his voice is a “feeble echo”, his eyes are “sunken…and hopeless”, and his face has “hollowed and thinned”. (Dickens 47) He doesn’t react to Monsieur Defarge, and doesn’t recognize Mr. Lorry, but Lucie manages to get past his vacant gaze. He recognizes her “golden curls” as those of his wife, and after a touching moment spent in his daughter’s arms, he seems to have waken from a long dream. (Dickens 54) Without Lucie (and her golden hair), he wouldn’t have recollected his consciouness and returned to life. Five years later, he seems to be a recovered man, although he is sometimes still haunted by “the shadow of the Bastille” and his imprisonment. (Dickens 95) When these episodes do come over him, “only his daughter has the power of charming [the] black brooding from his mind”. (Dickens 96) Lucie is compared to a “golden thread”, in reference to her golden locks that first brought Monsieur Manette from his semi-conscious state, that “united him to a Past…and to a Present”. (Dickens 96) She is the golden thread that the title of the second book refers to; Lucie  is the bridge that brought Monsieur Manette out of his miserable imprisonment and the present time. She is the only reason he has wanted to have his life recalled, representing the golden thread that ties him to this second chance at life. The idea that Monsieur Manette might not have wanted to be “recalled to life” after 18 years of imprisonment was hinted at in Mr. Lorry’s dreams much earlier in the book, and so Dickens emphasizes that only a truly strong reason could persuade him to want to live again. Lucie, his daughter, the only string that ties him to regaining his life, is the reason that Dickens provides. This metaphor is not only a major theme, but important in understanding the truth behind Monsieur Manette’s decision, as well as Lucie’s true role in the story so far.


  • lexibvhs5

    Let me start off by saying you have amazing taste in music! :) And every time I read something you write it amazes me, you write soo well! But back to your post. I actually didn’t make the connection, but now that I see it it totally makes sense. Lucie as well was committed to her father’s recovery as well which helped lead him out of his bad days of imprisonment.

  • Lexi L 5

    I made the same connections but I think you connected the connections excellently (if that makes sense). I like the connection you made to Dr. Manette not being sure if he wanted to be “recalled to life” but when he say Lucie’s golden hair, it made him want to live again. I really like how you connected it to the man who was buried who wasn’t sure if he wanted to live. I made the connection to the man and Mr. Manette, but not the idea of both being indecisive. Great response!

  • joevhs5

    Good point-I never thought about it that way. Especially the title of the second chapter. Does this mean that Miss Manette will be the focus of this book? Because so far, the focus has been on Mr. Darnay, not Lucie or even Monsieur Manette.

  • nishavhs5

    Aww thanks Lexi! :D And thanks other Lexi! :D

    Joe- I think Lucie is going to be important. I don’t think we’ve met all the characters in the book, but I’m sure the main cast has been established, and it seems like Lucie is our one-dimensional heroine, and Mr. Darnay will be the one-dimensional hero. I’m not sure if the focus will be her role as a “thread” to her father, but I do think she’ll still be important in the story.

  • Sakura1


    This is probably one of the really big themes in the story and I totally overlooked it. :(
    Anyway, this would account for the 2nd short story’s title “The Golden Thread”. On page 94, Dickens tells us that Lucie was “the golden thread that united him to a past beyond his misery”. It also goes on to say how Dr. Manette really responds and looks to his daughter for guidance. So, yeah, you really hit a strong point there – better go add it to my 3 column notes ;)

  • Lindsey 1

    Wow Nisha! I wrote my on this recurring theme of being “Recalled to life” but you really interpreted this way back to the beginning of the book. It was great and everything made sense. You connected back to the dream, which I had not really thought of and it really does make sense. It seems that what we have read so far is just foreshadowing what we are about to read next. Great response Nisha

  • annavhs5

    Nisha! Like a lot of others have already said, you have done such a great job! I think reading your reader response helped me make the connection too because I don’t think i was quite sure of what the Golden thread meant. It makes me wonder too as Joe said if this means that the rest of Book Two will revolve around how Lucie recalls her father to life. And also, the way book one ended with the “old answer [replying]: “I can’t say”" (58) to the question if restoration is possible, makes me wonder as to how far this bond, Lucie, will make restoration true.

  • ericavhs5

    To be honest, I think I missed this connection between Lucie and the golden thread while I was reading. Now that I’ve read your response, I feel like everything makes a little bit more sense! Dickens seems to leave no loose ends in his story, and connects everything to everything else without fail. I agree that Lucie being the golden thread and Dr. Manette only choosing to be recalled to life because of her could definitely be a part of a significant theme for the book.

  • Peter1

    I like the idea of Lucie being her father’s bridge to reality. There certainly seems to be no one else. I wonder how Defarge took care of him.

  • Josh Williams

    I keep trying to comment, but forgetting the anti-spam word XDDDDDDDDD
    Well I think there’s another connection to the Three Fates from Greek Mythology, because if Hercules’s thread turned gold at the end of the movie, then it could be a symbol of his second chance as well.

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