La philosophie de l’esprit

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Georg Hegel

While chapter one provides the background necessary for the novel, chapter two really introduces the action that will drive much of the novel.  It starts with the Dover mail coach driving up a hill on a dark and misty November night.  The darkness and mist have the characters, the coach passengers, the guard, and the driver all on edge.  They are in England, where highwaymen and robbers are frequently encountered, and all of them seem to fear a robbery.  In addition, they seem to be wary of one another, which makes the atmosphere even tenser.  One of the passengers on the coach is Jarvis Lorry, an employee of Tellson’s Bank.  Suddenly, the passengers hear a galloping horse approaching the coach, which increases all of their tensions and nervousness.  The horse is ridden by Jerry Cruncher, who works as a porter for Tellson’s bank, and he is bringing a message to Lorry.  The message appears to be instructions for Lorry and reads, “Wait at Dover for Mam’selle.”  Lorry gives Cruncher the response, “Recalled to Life.”  The mysterious response does not appear to have any meaning for Cruncher, who thinks about the answer as he returns to London, while Lorry continues in the coach.

Chapter two introduces some of the important elements in the story, but without providing any answers or real information about them.  Who or what has been recalled to life is not explained, but the reader is put on notice that something irregular has happened.  The atmosphere of the chapter is also important.  The coach was not just traveling at night, but on a dark and misty night—the stereotypical setting of suspense.  Moreover, the characters are uncomfortable and do not trust one another, a plot element that will recur in later novels as the characters face betrayal from unexpected quarters and help from even more unexpected sources.  It is also important to understand how vulnerable these characters are; they fear highwaymen because if the highwaymen come after the coach, they are not only likely to steal everything on the coach, but also to kill them.  This shows that humans, regardless of their relative power or privilege, remain essentially vulnerable.  This idea of vulnerability recurs throughout the novel, as well.

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