La théorie physique, son objet et sa structure

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Pierre Duhem

In chapter three, the truth behind the mystery of Lorry’s statement “Recalled to Life” begins to come to light.  Lorry dozes, and wonders how he is going to resurrect someone who has been buried alive for eighteen years.  Clearly, the reader understands that this person has not actually been buried alive, but the reader still does not understand how or why someone would be missing for eighteen years.  Lorry finds himself unable to imagine what the man would have encountered and how he would have weathered eighteen years of missing life.  Lorry hopes to find the man, if not optimistic, at least eager to get on with living now that he has the opportunity to do so, but is very fearful that he will find the man to be apathetic about his own future.  However, other things in the chapter remain very mysterious.  While Lorry is contemplating his own secrets, he shares nothing with his fellow coach passengers. Likewise, they share nothing with him about their own pasts or the reasons for their journeys.  Though traveling together, they are also traveling alone.   This introduces the idea of isolation, even in a crowd, and isolation from others is a theme that will be seen throughout the novel.

Perhaps the most significant part of this chapter is that Lorry really begins to wonder about the impact of recalling someone to life after he has been living in isolation.  The reader is not yet aware of why Manette has been virtually dead for the last eighteen years, but it is clear that Manette did not choose to make himself absent from his own life.  It is equally clear that Lorry questions whether it is possible to restore someone after he has gone through an experience like Manette’s.  At this point, Manette’s identity remains a secret, as does his background.  However, the reader understands that Manette will be central to the plot.  Furthermore, the reader begins to understand that the circumstances surrounding Manette’s imprisonment are going to be important.

Keeping in mind that the themes of darkness and light are central to the novel, one must consider how the atmosphere changes in this chapter.  Lorry has been traveling in isolation through a dark and misty night in a coach full of strangers.  However, at the end of this chapter, Lorry has arrived at his destination.  Instead of a dark and foreboding night, he looks out into a field and sees the sun rising in a clear sky.  This physical transformation from dark and foreboding to sunny and welcoming gives the reader a clue that the mystery man is not a figure of darkness, but a figure of light.

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