A Tale of Two Cities

(Book 2 Chapters 7-13) The title of chapter 12 is what? To whom does it refer? What’s the irony in this?

(Book 2 Chapters 7-13)

The title of chapter 12 is what? To whom does it refer? What’s the irony in this?

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The title of Chapter 12 is, like others, ironic. Mr. Stryver is far from delicate; he commits a number of indelicate actions. His very deportment lacks tact, as he throws his overly large body around the street and then around the interior of Tellson's--with no regard for the safety of others. His entire conversation with Mr. Lorry is indiscreet, and he puts Mr. Lorry in the very awkward position of turning Stryver down on Lucie's behalf. Still, it is fortunate that Mr. Lorry is able to intervene to present a worse situation later. Although marriage tended to be dominated by economics at the time, it is indelicate of Stryver to mention Lucie's reasons for accepting him as materialistic. Mr. Lorry is forced to remind Stryver that he needs Lucie's acceptance to go ahead, stressing that "the young lady goes before all." But Stryver looks at the matter backwards the whole way through. When he is planning his intended wedding, he is merely debating when to "make her happiness known to her" and when to "give her his hand." This is a humorous reversal of the usual assumption that a woman gives her hand in marriage, not the other way around.

Stryver's second and more seriously indelicate action is his allusion to Lucie's virtue. His pride is hurt by the fact that she is not inclined to accept him, and he protects his hurt feelings by suggesting that Lucie has acted improperly or even foolishly, as though she has demonstrated that after all she is ineligible for his attentions. This is a very serious charge; in the nineteenth century, a woman's virtue was priceless while a stain on her reputation was irreversible. It is good that Stryver does not voice this idea to anyone other than Mr. Lorry, who is too bewildered to be outraged, because it could have done serious damage to Lucie.