A Tale of Two Cities: Opportunity in the Face of Failure

When a man’s road to happiness is cut off by a wrong turn and a person finds themselves lost in an unknown state, a second chance is a miraculous hand that comes out at the person, opening up another path, even at his lowest of stages, to once again be able to reach at a goal. That is life. A second chance, if taken, can act as a renewal of vows or even as a renewal of the person’s choices. Within the notorious 19th century novel, A Tale of Two Cities, written by the English author, Charles Dickens, this revival or rebirth can be found in the essence of life that make up the characters that take part in the novel. The protagonist in the novel proves himself to be a well-mannered man named Charles Darnay who ventures out to Britain, leaving a shameful aristocratic life behind in France. Thus this was common move as the novel situates a revolutionary time period; a time period where all of France is wreaking havoc in revolt and people either escape or get killed. It is through this revolution, under every dark pebble in the path to revolution, behind every nook, and in every corner of this revolution, that a revival is found enlightening a new force of people and ideas to prosper.

Dicken’s most notable feminine character, Ms. Lucie Manette, is seen as an outstanding reference to this theme of resurrection found reoccurring endlessly in the novel. Lucie is a person that ingeniously unites everyone together, whether considering Sydney carton, an alcoholic friend, Dr. Manette, her father, or Darnay her husband, she keeps the world from going mad and brings them all together, “Ever busily winding the golden thread that bound them all together, weaving the service of her happy influence through the tissue of all their lives, and making it predominate nowhere, Lucie heard in the echoes of years none but friendly and soothing sounds.” She brings out resurrection in never letting the family fall apart, yet the opposite, she continuously unites and nurtures the bonds, furthering everyone’s development and picking everyone up when in need, as if she were an all-powerful Eve figure. Yet Lucie is seen to never drop her nurturing figure that resurrects everyone who comes near her as later on in the novel she’s seen to go all out in search for her imprisoned husband. She represents a perfect mother and when receiving word her husband Darnays been imprisoned, she felt it her duty to go there with her father in an effort to get him out and recall him back to life, call him out of a wrongfully sentenced imprisonment. Thus she demonstrates this in her argument with Madame Defarge and begs her to spare his life and to even think of it through a perspective “as a wife and a mother”. Showing her efforts to enlighten not only those close to her, but those against her, such as Madame Defarge, whom she tried to get to see in the same way that she sees, a view that a second chance is right, that revival is a thing sacred to a person; something her husband was in need of as his death was staked on whether he’d be able to get out.

Lucie Manette’s father, Dr. Manette, is another quite critical example of resurrection within the novel. Now, Doctor Manette had been imprisoned for 18 years of his life, wrongfully, missing out every aspect of his daughter, Lucie’s childhood. “She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and to a Present beyond his misery: and the sound of her voice, the light of her face, the touch of her hand, had a strong beneficial influence with him almost always.” He spent so much time in prison without human contact that he went virtually mad. Yet the reader can see that with the aid of Dr. Manette’s loving daughter, she broke through the shroud of insanity to reach him on his calm, normal, and sane Dr. Manette attributes. She brought him back to life. He was virtually dead, trapped inside a cell, doing nothing but making shoes. Yet she brought back his memories, and with those memories, brought back his life. In respect to that act Dr. Manette raided Luice into the proper woman that can tell write from wrong and go even further in cleansing the lives of others, “…now. If your suit should prosper, if Lucie should love you, you shall tell me one your wedding day…”. Dr. Manette saw respectfully that Darnay was a proper man to wed his daughter and that with Darnay, she would grow in contact with more people, furthing her icon as an angel that resurrects all around. Regardless of the fact that Dr. Manette might have speculated Charles Darnay holding some secrets, in order to achieve whats best for her daughter he refused to hear those secrets, Charles’s real name, till he knew that they were officially married.

Sydney Carton was a man undoubtedly a victim of resurrection. He is known within the novel, initially, as a heavy alcoholic, he’s got nothing to live for and he really melancholic when it comes to aspects about his life. Yet love changed him, “O Miss Manette, when the little picture of a happy father’s face looks up in yours, when you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!”. When he met Lucie at the court he immediately fell in love. Thus it grew to a point where it did not matter anymore that Darnay “beat him” to marry her. He became close to their entire family and changed for her. He became a better shaped person all around, this all being a resurrection from a pit of despair towards a bright happy life with Lucie, Darnay and their family. Sydney’s change into a better man did not end there though, as his look a like characteristics with Charles Darnay again proved helpful in his aid to bringing back a man wrongfully placed in hell. Sydney gives his life for Charles, “I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die,” Charles, after going back to paris was put in jail and Sydney Carton knew what his rightful duties were. He cared so much about Lucie and her family that he knew in order to maintain their happiness he had to switch with Charles in the cell so Charles could go free. Thus he referred to the bible because he, just as a jesus figure, gave his life for another, Charles Darnay, for their well being over his in order to resurrect them to their rightfully happy lives.

A being is given one opportunity at life, one opportunity at their goal and one opportunity to succeed. Yet it is only with the aid of some gracious being that, in a state of lonely despair, that the being can once again be resurrected into another shot at their rightful purpose. Thus in the novel , A Tale Of Two Cities, written by the author, Charles Dickens, the idea is clearly brought out through the numerous event and the people included in his novel, beings such as Lucie Manette, Sydney Carton, and Dr Manette who all symbolize the pure essence of what it is to be truly recalled to life. Through his colorful language and unique forms of writing, Dickens makes resurrection a clear and mesmerizing idea that transports the reader to an entirely different era.

Death as a Liberation in A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is his first of two historical novels. Published in 1859, the book discusses the themes of resurrection, destiny, and concealment. Dickens’ novel both demonstrates his view of society, and contains historical facts surrounding the French Revolution. Throughout the novel, two viewpoints of the theme of death are evident: a negative as well as a positive perspective of death. In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens utilizes three widely different perspectives on death: the bloodthirsty craving for slaughter expressed by the revolutionary Madame Defarge, the physiological death resulting from Doctor Manette’s imprisonment, and the noble sacrifice of Sydney Carton, in order to demonstrate his view of death as a form of not only physical and emotional punishment, but also of liberation. Dickens negatively portrays death as a horrendous act through Madame Defarge. She declares that, “For other crimes as tyrants and oppressors, I have this race a long time on my register, doomed to destruction and extermination” (Dickens 264). Madame Defarge obsesses over the destruction of the aristocrats, believing that their cruelty demands death. Furthermore, Dickens describes her sadistic tendencies: “She derived a horrible enjoyment from the deadly nature of her wrath,” further proving her vicious nature (Dickens 265). Madame Defarge not only takes pleasure in watching the condemned die, but she also knits a secret registry of the individuals whom revolutionaries wish to execute. Stout writes, “Madame Defarge’s knitted registry of the condemned points out just how thin an operative characterization might be” (Stout 37). This registry further implies the certainty of their death; since Madame Defarge writes it down, it seems inevitable, demonstrating the authority of the revolutionaries, and the inexorable justice which they demand. Through Madame Defarge, Dickens portrays death pessimistically as an obligatory physical punishment.Dickens not only portrays death as a physical punishment through the character of Doctor Manette, but he also expresses his view of death as an emotional imprisonment. Doctor Manette’s eighteen year confinement constitutes a negative parallel to physical death. Dickens states, “The faintness of the voice was pitiable and dreadful. It was not the faintness of physical weakness, though confinement and hard fare no doubt has their part in it” (Dickens 29). Doctor Manette’s incarceration leaves him physically weak, as well as emotionally damaged. Though Dickens does not describe precisely how he suffered, his many relapses into the trembling sessions of his old self remain evidence of the depth of his misery. As Doctor Manette progresses from an emotionally troubled man to a free man in society, he underwent multiple relapses. During one of his reversions, Doctor Manette returns to his bench where he undergoes life as a shoemaker during his imprisonment. Dickens describes Doctor Manette’s compulsions: “He worked, and worked, and worked, in silence, and words fell on him as they would have fallen on an echoless wall…he sometimes furtively looked up…in that, there seemed as though he were trying to reconcile some doubts in his mind” (Dickens 150). Because he spent so many years isolated making shoes, when an event triggers Doctor Manette’s old self and he goes back to his old ways and shuts everyone else out. He says, “my old pain has given me a power that has brought us through the barrier, and gained us news of Charles there, and brought us here (Dickens 202). Doctor Manette’s life transforms from that of an incarcerated lunatic feverishly making shoes, to a man of strength and merit with freedom in society. His imprisonment no doubt affects him emotionally; however, he overcomes those damages and becomes a strong support to his daughter Lucie, during her husband Charles Darnay’s imprisonment. In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens disapprovingly portrays emotional death through the character of Doctor Manette because of his imprisonment. Dickens positively depicts Sydney Carton’s sacrificial death as a form of liberation. Carton initially appears as an alcoholic attorney who does not have a care in his own life, and who is apathetic toward every aspect of life. He comments on his own “misdirected life” saying that it is an absolute waste of existence, for he cares for nothing and no one, because “[he is] not worth such feeling” (Dickens 116, 117). However, in order to find a purpose, he sacrifices himself for another man, Charles Darnay. Carton’s transformation into a man of worth occurs not only because he sacrifices his body for Darnay’s, but also because he sacrifices his old flawed self. He no longer remains an alcoholic, but rather he becomes a man of worth. After this transformation, Carton wants to sacrifice himself for Darnay. Carton states that, “No life can possibly be saved, and many lives must inevitably be sacrificed” (Dickens 268). He understands that someone must die, either Darnay or himself. Carton uses this opportunity not only to ensure Lucie and Darnay’s happiness, but also to transform his identity, and to become a man of moral importance. In this decision, Carton uses death in a positive manner in order to liberate himself from his past ways, and become a man who possesses the desires to keep Darnay alive by sacrificing himself. Dickens portrays death negatively not only as a form of physical and emotional imprisonment, but also positively as a form of liberation. To Madame Defarge and the ferocious revolutionaries, they feel death through physical sentences. Doctor Manette and countless other prisoners feel death through emotional imprisonment. And lastly, for Sydney Carton, death provides liberation. Through these examples of death in A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens’ opinion regarding death becomes evident in that he views death in a negative manner with physical and emotional death, as well as in a positive light as a form of liberation. He believes that the slaughter that captivated the revolutionaries was atrocious and unnecessary, but he conversely portrays death as a means of freedom and hope.

Resurrection in A Tale of Two Cities

Resurrection is a term that is often used to describe the rebirth of someone, not only after death, but often as a new person in their own lifetime. In A Tale of Two Cities, a novel written by the famous English author Charles Dickens, the idea that love and devotion lead to resurrection is demonstrated from beginning to end. First and foremost, it is clear that love has an enormous impact on Dr. Manette, who is initially a broken and haunted man. His daughter Lucie devotes her time and love to him, making sure that he is restored back to the man that he once was. In addition to Dr. Manette, Jerry Cruncher finds himself resurrected from his life of grave-robbing because of his love and devotion to the members of the Manette household. Lastly, we see how Sydney Carton’s devoted love for Lucie leads him to his sacrifice, after which he is reborn in Lucie’s son Sydney Darnay. Each of these men are perfect examples of how love and devotion lead to resurrection.In 1757, Dr. Alexandre Manette is arrested and held as a political prisoner in the Bastille, left to rot, knowing himself only as “One Hundred and Five, North Tower” (46). He is put into solitary confinement where he is driven mad by lack of human contact, love and natural light. When he is finally released from prison, the doctor is a disturbed man who has turned to compulsive shoe-making to calm himself. When he and his daughter Lucie are re-united for the first time, her love for him has an instant physical impact on him, even though he is unaware that this young lady is actually his daughter. Doctor Manette is “Not yet trusting the tones of her voice, [as] she s[its] down on the bench beside him. He recoil[s], but she la[ys] her hand upon his arm. A strange thrill str[ikes] him when she d[oes] so, and visibly passe[s] over his frame” (48). After being imprisoned for so long, Dr. Manette is not used to physical or emotional contact. Within minutes, Lucie is showing her father that she loves him, and it is already sparking a change in his behavior. At first, he doesn’t know how to react to her sitting beside him, and he pulls away from her. Not willing to give up, Lucie makes slight physical contact with him which causes him to shiver involuntarily, demonstrating that Lucie’s love is inciting a change in him. Lucie continues to speak with her father, and eventually reveals that she is his daughter. She plans that they will return to England because she knows that staying in France, the country where the doctor was unjustly imprisoned, will do him no good. Lucie promises that she “will be true to [him] with all [her] duty and with all [her] faithful service” (50). Wanting the best for her father, Lucie is devoting her life to the resurrection of her father. She knows that this paranoid, damaged man is not who her father used to be, and is willing to help him return to being the respected, well-known doctor that he once was. Lucie makes a home for the two of them to live in, making sure that as “Simple as the furniture [is], it [is] set off by so many little adornments, of no value but for their taste and fancy, that its effect was delightful (98). The devotion of Lucie’s time has created a warm atmosphere for her and her father to live in. After spending so much time in an isolated cell coming home to a lovely little house, such as the one that Lucie has created, is good for the Doctor’s spirits. Lucie’s commitment to the improvement of her father’s health and spirit ultimately leads to his resurrection, which we see has come when “For the first time the Doctor felt, [], that his suffering was strength and power” (280). Doctor Manette has regained his confidence and is once again recognized as respected doctor. He realizes that he may be able to repay Lucie for her unconditional love by saving her husband from the guillotine. He says that “as [his] beloved child was helpful in restoring [him] to [himself], he will be helpful now in restoring the dearest part of herself to her” (280). This magnificent revelation affirms that Doctor Manette has truly been “recalled to life” (14) by his daughter’s love and devotion. Mr. Jerry Cruncher is introduced as a messenger from Tellson’s bank, who receives the message “recalled to life” (14) from Jarvis Lorry. Almost immediately, Mr. Cruncher is recognized as one to be associated with the idea of resurrection. Mr. Cruncher is involved in the trade of illegally selling bodies to doctors. In this time, there is no legal way to sell cadavers to doctors or surgeons, and therefore he earns the title of being a resurrection man. As Cruncher, Carton, Barsad and Lorry are in Tellson’s bank, they discuss whether or not Roger Cly’s funeral was stage. While John Barsad, a spy, insists that he himself buried Mr. Cly, Jerry Cruncher admits to his past time of grave-digging when he accuses Barsad of “bur[ying] paving-stones and earth in that there coffin” (313). As a result of this, Mr. Lorry becomes rather upset that Jerry has “used the respectable and great house of Tellson’s as a blind” (316) for his criminal behavior. Being a devoted friend to Mr. Lorry, Jerry proposes that he will “go into the line of reg’lar diggin’, and make amends for what he would have un-dug” (317). By offering to quit grave digging and take up being a regular digger from now on, Jerry Cruncher shows that his devotion to his good friend has sparked his will to resurrect himself. His promise to stop illegally grave-digging is an indication that Mr. Cruncher is willing to make a change for the better. He wants a better life for his son, whom he wants to “keep his father’s place, and take care of his mother” (317) indicating that his devotion to his family is another reason for him to stop grave digging. A final example of how love and devotion lead to Mr. Cruncher’s resurrection happens when the Darnays have escaped from France, and he approaches Miss Pross. He asks her if she would do him a favor, and “take notice o’ two promises and wows wot it is my wishes fur to record in this here crisis” (373). The “first… [is] them poor things well out o’ this. Never no more will I do it, never no more!” (374). Here, Mr. Cruncher is promising to Miss Pross that he will no longer dig graves, although she doesn’t know what he is promising her that he won’t do. The second promise that he makes to her is “never no more will [he] interfere with Mrs. Cruncher’s flopping, never no more!” (374). Both of Mr. Cruncher’s promises indicate that his love and devotion to the members of the Manette household, and his love for his wife convince him to be a better man. Before, Cruncher would curse and scream at his wife for flopping; accusing her of praying against and their child. He now realizes that the way he reacted to his wife’s flopping was wrong, and promises to not treat her like that anymore. Mr. Cruncher’s primary association to resurrection by being titled “the resurrection man”, and his own resurrection in his lifetime, sparked by his love and devotion to his own family and the Manette family prove that love leads to resurrection.While resurrection often occurs in a metaphorical sense, such as the idea of Dr. Manette being recalled to life after being figuratively buried alive, or Jerry Cruncher being resurrected into a new man out of love and devotion for his family, resurrection can also happen in a physical sense. Charles Dickens was a strong believer in the resurrection of Christ, which is reflected into Sydney Carton’s self- sacrifice out of pure love for Lucie Manette. Before Lucie and Charles are ever engaged or married, Carton admits his love for Lucie directly to her. The conversation is a pitiful one, where Carton is feeling rather sorry for himself, and in turn he is making Lucie feel quite upset. He tells her that since he has known her, “[he] ha[s] been troubled by a remorse that [he] thought would never reproach [him] again” (156). He then proceeds to tell Lucie that he has had “ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but [he] wishes [her] to know that [she] inspired it.” (156-157). The fact that Lucie has made such an impact on Carton’s life by bringing up past feelings of remorse, and sparking the idea that he wants to start all over indicates just how much Carton loves Lucie. She really gets into his brain, and makes him think. The idea of starting new and having a dream that ends in nothing, but that is inspired by Lucie foreshadows his sacrifice for her. When he sacrifices himself, he is inspired by his love for Lucie and his desire to make her happy. This sacrifice leads to his resurrection in Lucie’s son, Sydney Darnay. In this conversation, Carton also says that “For [her], and any dear to [her], [he] would do anything” (158). This is another indication of Carton’s love for Lucie. He truly loves and cares about her, and is willing to do whatever is necessary to make her happy. Ultimately, that is to take her husband’s place at the guillotine and die in his place. He does this because he loves Lucie enough that he wants her to be happy with her family, even if he is not a part of it. Sydney’s sacrifice and rebirth in the Darnay’s son conclusively does make him a part of their family, only in a resurrected form. Finally, we see that Carton’s love and devotion to Lucie’s happiness leads to his resurrection in his final description before he dies. As he looks towards Lucie and her family, Carton says “I see that child who lay upon her bosom and who bore my name, a man winning his way up in that path of life which once was mine” (386). Here, Carton is envisioning himself in Lucie’s son. Lucie names her son after Carton, making his image of being resurrected in the young boy even more legitimate. Sydney is making the ultimate sacrifice for Lucie, all to make her happy. He truly loves her, and is sacrificing his life to allow her to keep her family together, proving that his and devotion to her will lead to his resurrection. Throughout the entirety of A Tale of Two Cities, it is evident that resurrection is a main idea in the novel. Dickens, being extremely Christian, believed that righteous behavior ultimately leads to one’s resurrection. This was demonstrated in Doctor Manette, when we see that he has been recalled to life by his daughter’s undying love and devotion to the improvement of his health. We see it again in Jerry Cruncher, as we see him evolve from being a grave-robbing ‘resurrection man’ to being a man resurrected by his devotion to the people close to him. Finally, we see the idea that love and devotion lead to resurrection in Sydney Carton’s heart breaking self-sacrifice. He loves Lucie so much that he is willing to devote his entire life to making her happy. He knows that Charles Darnay means the world to her, and that she is hysterical about his death sentence, and therefore he is willing to take his place so that she can be happy again with her husband. Through each of these examples, it is proven that true love and devotion to someone or something leads to resurrection, whether metaphorically or physically.

Recalled to Life

In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens asserts his belief in the constant possibility of resurrection and transformation, both on a personal level and on a societal level. The narrative suggests that Sydney Carton’s death secures a new, peaceful life for Lucie Manette, Charles Darnay, and even Carton himself. By delivering himself to the guillotine, Carton ascends to the plane of heroism, becoming a Christ-like figure whose death serves to save the lives of others. His own life thus gains meaning and value. Moreover, the final pages of the novel suggest that, like Christ, Carton will be resurrected-Carton is reborn in the hearts of those he has died to save. Similarly, the text implies that the death of the old regime in France prepares the way for the beautiful and renewed Paris that Carton supposedly envisions from the guillotine. Although Carton spends most of the novel in a life of indolence and apathy, the supreme selflessness of his final act speaks to a human capacity for change. Although the novel dedicates much time to describing the atrocities committed both by the aristocracy and by the outraged peasants, it ultimately expresses the belief that this violence will give way to a new and better society. Dickens elaborates his theme with the character of Doctor Manette. Early on in the novel, Lorry holds an imaginary conversation with him in which he says that Manette has been “recalled to life.” As this statement implies, the doctor’s eighteen-year imprisonment has constituted a death of sorts. Lucie’s love enables Manette’s spiritual renewal, and her maternal cradling of him on her breast reinforces this notion of rebirth. Doctor Manette’s own death and resurrection could be a symbol for France’s own death in terms of humanitarianism. And just as Lucie plans to nurse her father back to health and sanity with love and compassion, Dickens suggests that France can construct a new and more compassionate society through dedication and valor- not the haphazard violence of the revolutionaries. Connected to the theme of the possibility of resurrection is the notion that sacrifice is necessary to achieve happiness. Dickens examines this second theme, again, on both a national and personal level. For example, the revolutionaries prove that a new, egalitarian French republic can come about only with a heavy and terrible cost-personal loves and loyalties must be sacrificed for the good of the nation. Also, when Darnay is arrested for the second time the guard who seizes him reminds Manette of the primacy of state interests over personal loyalties; that “if the Republic demands certain sacrifices from you, without doubt you as a good patriot will be happy to make them. The Republic goes before all. The People is supreme”. Moreover, Madame Defarge gives her husband a similar lesson when she chastises him for his devotion to Manette-an emotion that, in her opinion, only clouds his obligation to the revolutionary cause. Most important, Carton’s transformation into a man of moral worth depends upon his sacrificing of his former self. In choosing to die for his friends, Carton not only enables their happiness but also ensures his own spiritual rebirth. Almost all of the characters in A Tale of Two Cities fight against some form of imprisonment. For Darnay and Manette, this struggle is quite literal. Both serve significant sentences in French jails. Still, as the novel demonstrates, the memories of what one has experienced prove no less confining than the walls of prison. Manette, for example, finds himself trapped, at times, by the recollection of life in the Bastille and can do nothing but revert, trembling, to his pathetic shoemaking compulsion. Similarly, Carton spends much of the novel struggling against the confines of his own personality, dissatisfied with a life that he regards as worthless. The fact that he can only find meaning in his life by sacrificing it for others is another symbol for the good of the whole over the good of one. Sydney Carton’s love for Lucie caused a resurrection of “whispers of old voices impelling me upward, that I thought were silent forever.” He seemed to have died in spirit when he “followed his father to the grave”. He is resurrected from a useless existence to a useful and purposeful life when he sets out to save Darnay. As he walks the streets of Paris, he repeats the words “I am the resurrection and the life…”. He dies but lives on in the memories of those for whom he gives his life. He also lives on in the life of Lucie’s son, who is named for him and “resurrects” his career, winning his way up so well that Carton’s name “becomes illustrious by the light of his.” Carton’s story is kept alive for generations when Lucie’s son tells his own son. On a literal level, Madame Defarge’s knitting constitutes a whole network of symbols. Into her needlework she stitches a registry of all those condemned to die in the name of a new republic. But on a metaphoric level, the knitting constitutes a symbol in itself, representing the stealthy, cold-blooded vengefulness of the revolutionaries. As Madame Defarge sits quietly knitting, she appears harmless and quaint. In fact, however, she sentences her victims to death. Similarly, the French peasants may appear simple and humble figures, but they eventually rise up to massacre their oppressors. Dickens’s knitting imagery also emphasizes an association between vengefulness and fate, which, in Greek mythology, is traditionally linked to knitting or weaving. The Fates, three sisters who control human life, busy themselves with the tasks of weavers or seamstresses: one sister spins the web of life, another measures it, and the last cuts it. Similarly Philomela wove her violent story into a tapestry to warn her sister and implicate her husband. Madame Defarge’s knitting thus becomes a symbol of her victims’ fate-death at the hands of a wrathful peasantry. The Marquis Evrémonde is less a believable character than an archetype of an evil and corrupt social order. He is not only overly self-indulgent, as evidenced by the train of attendants who help him to drink his chocolate; he is also completely indifferent to the lives of the peasants whom he exploits, as evidenced by his lack of sympathy for the father of the child whom his carriage tramples to death. As such, the Marquis stands as a symbol of the ruthless aristocratic cruelty that the French Revolution seeks to overcome. In order to convey the significance of revolution and resurrection in the novel, Dickens adeptly portrays the horrors of mob violence throughout the novel, leaving the reader with images of waves of people crashing through the battered gates of the Bastille; of Foulon with his mouth stuffed full of grass as he is beaten to death and beheaded; of the hundreds of unruly citizens singing and dancing wildly around Lucie Manette as she stands alone outside her husband’s prison. However, Dickens balances these visions of revolutionary terror with images of rebirth and hope, such as Lucie’s golden hair mingling with her father’s prematurely white hair in the moments after he first remembers her mother and Carton’s prophetic vision of the future as he goes to the guillotine. Although A Tale of Two Cities lacks the wealth of memorable characters found in other Dickens novels, the unforgettable images Dickens creates compensate for this deficiency.

Mirror Images: Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay

In his masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens strengthens his theme of paired opposites by juxtaposing the characters of Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay. Initially, it seems as though Carton and Darnay are completely bipolar. While Darnay exhibits nothing but poise and manners, Carton is crude and unmotivated. However, as the novel progresses, Sydney Carton proves to be a far more complex character than he once seemed. He begins to reveal a multifaceted personality—one of underlying nobility, of selflessness, and of course, unconditional love for Lucie Manette. Eventually, Sydney transforms into the calm, knowing man that Darnay once was, and Darnay degenerates into a useless, stupefied character. The similarities and differences between Darnay and Carton, including the absolute reversal of their roles, can be explained through a chronological analysis of A Tale of Two Cities.When Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay first meet in the beginning of Book Two, they are complete opposites. At Darnay’s trial, Sydney has the look of an inept, disheveled attorney, staring indifferently at the ceiling to pass the time (Dickens 75). However, it is not long before he shows his true intelligence, after he shrewdly saves the day by pointing out Darnay’s physical resemblance to his own (81). Immediately after the trial, Sydney relapses into his previous state of idleness, leaving one to doubt if he possesses any likeness to the dignified, poised Darnay outside of physical similarities! He is particularly rude to Darnay while the two are dining, and Darnay even comments, “I begin to think we are not much alike in any particular, you and I” (90). Throughout the night, Carton is “not quite sober” (89), and he makes a fool out of himself while Darnay maintains a calm disposition. Although Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay are mirror images of each other, Darnay has shown that he is, in fact, a perfect reflection of what Carton might have been. Carton knows this, and he bitterly compares his wasted life to Darnay’s perfect world: “A good reason for taking to a man, that he shows you what you have fallen away from, and what you might have been! …You hate the fellow” (91). Now that he has strayed from what he could have been, Carton knows that he can never win Lucie. For this, Darnay is a constant source of frustration to Carton, reminding him of the life he has lost.In the following chapters of Book Two, several new facets of Sydney Carton’s character are revealed, and he begins to resemble Charles Darnay slightly more. Carton reveals that he has been a “jackal” for his entire life, living and working for people like Stryver. “Even then [at old Shrewsbury School], I did exercises for other boys, and seldom did my own” (95). Although Carton is perfectly capable and intelligent, he no longer has the confidence to pursue a success of his own. He had become “incapable of his own help and his own happiness, sensible of the blight on him, and resigned to let it eat him away” (97). Sydney knows that he is in no position to court Lucie, but nevertheless he decides to express his adoration for her. He is similar to Charles Darnay in that they share an honest, absolute love for Lucie Manette. Both Carton and Darnay are sincere, compassionate fellows (unlike Stryver, who only wishes to have Lucie as a “trophy wife”). However, Sydney is different from Darnay in that he does not wish for Lucie’s hand in marriage. Instead, his only wish is to make her happy, whatever the sacrifice, even if he should get nothing in return! “For you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything…think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!” (156). Here, Sydney reveals himself as a fellow of great delicacy—more so than Darnay. However, that is not to say that Darnay does not possess his own delicacy2E He nobly acknowledges how his family had wronged the poor, and thus renounces his aristocratic lifestyle. Furthermore, he reveals his respectful nature when he tells Doctor Manette of his love for Lucie rather than telling Lucie directly. “Doctor Manette… I look only to… being faithful to you to the death. Not to divide with Lucie her privilege as your child… but to come of aid of it, and bind her closer to you” (164). Doctor Manette approves of Darnay’s proposal, and Darnay marries Lucie shortly after.After the wedding of Charles Darnay and Lucie Manette, an interesting shift occurs between Darnay and Carton. When Darnay and Lucie return from their honeymoon, Carton is the first person to pay the newlyweds a visit. In a very earnest and compassionate apology, Carton implores Darnay to “forget about” past mishaps, in hopes that they “might be friends” (236). During this conversation, Sydney constantly criticizes himself: “At any rate you know me as a dissolute dog who has never done any good, and never will” (237). To this, Darnay uncaringly replies, “I don’t know that you ‘never will'” (237). It is clear that Sydney Carton is willing to do anything to be friends with Lucie and Darnay. However, Darnay indicates the opposing side of the “mirror” through his dismissive attitude toward Sydney. Immediately after Sydney leaves, Darnay refers to the poor fellow as “a problem of carelessness and recklessness” (237)! When one compares Darnay’s flippant stance to Carton’s sincere intentions, one cannot help but notice that the tables have been turned. Dickens has flipped the “mirror images” of Darnay and Carton—for once, Carton is completely serious and polite, while Darnay is uncaring.Darnay and Carton’s roles change progressively throughout Book Three; by the end, their roles have reversed completely. After Charles Darnay receives a pitiful letter from his old servant, Gabelle, he immediately resolves to return to Paris in order to save his loyal friend. His noble, selfless response in the face of great danger is admirable; however, he is nave in thinking that he can reason with the senseless mobs. Darnay quickly proves to be inept in accomplishing much of anything, and requires the aid/influence of Doctor Manette after he has been thrown in jail. While Doctor Manette is powerful enough to sway a fickle mob at Darnay’s tribunal, he is unable to save Darnay a second time, from the clutches of La Force. In turn, Darnay becomes a weak and useless character, incapable of accomplishing what he came to do. Later, when Sydney Carton joins the Manette/Darnay family in France, he proves to be far more successful. Carton and Darnay have very similar reasons for coming to France—they both wish to aid the people they care for. (Carton comes to help Lucie, and Darnay initially comes to save Gabelle). However, the “mirrors” have flipped entirely. Carton is no longer a man without a purpose; he has resolved to give his life for the woman he loves. As he carries forth his plan, Carton reveals his strong sense of calmness, confidence, and level-headedness. He uses his expertise to defeat Barsad’s “deck of cards” (thus gaining entrance into Darnay’s cell) and visits the apothecary to purchase necessary materials, all before he even heads to the trial. Finally, before he faces the guillotine, he bids farewell to Lucie for the last time, reaffirming his oath to make any sacrifice for her when he says, “A life you love” (365). When Carton finally executes his plan, he is the poised, calm man that Darnay once was. Darnay, after spending over one year in a prison cell, has sunk into a useless stupor. The reversal is complete, and Sidney Carton faces the guillotine nobly, knowing that he, too, will be resurrected (Busch xv).Before he chose a title for A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens considered a great many alternate titles, including “Buried Alive,” and “Memory Carton” (Woodcock 14). However, the final title is the only one that adequately describes the true spirit and theme of the book. The phrase “a tale of two cities” contains endless connotations—most prominently, the paired opposites known as Sidney Carton and Charles Darnay. These two characters are very interesting reflections of each other; they are doubles, strikingly similar in appearance, tied together by fate (Woodcock 24). Yet, they are two completely separate entities. Next to Lucie, Darnay is the most unconvincing character in the entire novel. He is impossibly polite, optimistic, and kind, whereas Carton is a bitter and realistic representation of the “dark side of the mirror.” Ultimately, Sydney Carton is the one who saves the day, thereby completing the task that Charles Darnay had tried to accomplish. Although Darnay is the perfect gentleman, the “less perfect” Sydney Carton ironically proves to be the hero.Works Cited ListBusch, Frederick. Introduction. A Tale of Two Cities. By Charles Dickens. New York: Penguin, c. 1997. ix-xv.Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. With Introduction by Frederick Busch. New York: Penguin, c. 1997.Johnson, Edgar. Afterword. A Tale of Two Cities. By Charles Dickens. New York: New American Library. 1962. 369-376.Woodcock, George. Introduction. A Tale of Two Cities. By Charles Dickens. New York: Penguin, c. 1970. 9-25.

Violence in A Tale of Two Cities

The storming of the Bastille, the death carts with their doomed human cargo, the swift drop of the guillotine blade – this is the French Revolution that Charles Dickens vividly captures in his famous novel, A Tale of Two Cities. With dramatic eloquence, he brings to life a time of terror and treason, a starving people rising in frenzy and hate to overthrow a corrupt and decadent regime. Dickens not only captures the brutality and corruption of this period, but gives insight into what propelled the death and destruction. Through the hostility between the French aristocrats and the peasants, Dickens highlights the principal that violence perpetuates even more violence, until the sinister chain eventually exhausts itself.The oppression of the French people by the ruling class in the eighteenth century is an infamous time in history. During this time, the aristocrats had no respect for the less fortunate of their nation. Dickens illustrates the aristocratic attitude toward the peasants with Dr. Charles Mannett’s account of how one aristocrat treated his servant who failed to answer the door in a pleasing amount of time.It [the door] was not opened immediately, in answer to the ringing of the bell and one of my two conductors struck the man who opened it, with his heavy riding-glove, across the face. There was nothing in this action to attract my particular attention, for I had seen common people treated more commonly than dogs.This quotation shows how the poor were looked down upon by the rich. The wealthy treated the poor like dogs instead of people.Dickens also uses the Marquis Evremonde to give a similar portrait of the aristocracy as elitist. The Marquis orders his carriage to be raced through the city streets, delighting to see the commoners nearly run down by horses. All at once, however, the carriage comes to a stop with “a sickening little jolt.” A child lies dead under its wheels. The Marquis displays no sympathy for Gaspard, the father of the boy whom his carriage crushes. Rather, he believes that his noble blood justifies his malicious treatment of his lower-class subjects. Dickens says that the Marquis views the commoner as “mere rats come out of their holes” (101). In tossing the coins to Gaspard, he aims merely to buy his way out of the predicament and rid his own conscience of the nuisance of Gaspard’s grief. He wholeheartedly believes that it is the commoners’ lot in life to struggle. The nobles’ treatment of the common people was so abominable that Ernest Defarge comforts Gaspard by telling him, “It is better for the poor little plaything to die so, than to live. It has died in a moment without pain. Could it have lived an hour as happily?” (101).The Marquis’ blatant cruelty and antipathy spurred Gaspard to seek vengeance by any means necessary. Gaspard believed that the best way to accomplish this was to murder his son’s killer. This vengeful cycle is further perpetuated by Gaspard’s execution and then by a group of revolutionaries who called themselves the Jacquarie, who vow to avenge Gaspard’s death. This new revenge was to take the shape of the extermination of the remaining members of the Marquis’ family, and the destruction of his castle. The group fulfilled their vow. They killed who they thought was the son of the Marquis, and they destroyed his estate. So, a chain of violence that begins with one murder multiplies until it ends with the destruction of a castle and the death of four human beings.The masses of oppressed Frenchman, having had all these forcefully repressive and sadistic acts put upon them, reacted in a way the shows precisely Dickens’ message: the people of France rebelled. Their first reciprocal act of violence was the storming of the Bastille, a prison in Paris that contained all the political enemies of the French crown. The mob, seeing this as the symbol of their repression, struck out at it in an unforgettable frenzy. “… [A] forest of naked arms… all the fingers convulsively clutching at every weapon or semblance of a weapon that was thrown up…” (198). “…cannon, muskets, fire and smoke… flashing weapons, blazing torches…” (200). This was the scene at the storming of the Bastille, the culmination of the aggressive acts that had been inflicted on the poor. The aristocrats’ violent actions begot the violent actions of the peasants. The storming of the Bastille, which was the beginning of the French Revolution, was the repercussion of the bloodshed and starvation caused by the upper-class.Throughout the revolution, one harrowing figure stood out among the mob as the most evil of them all: Madame Defarge. In the storming of the Bastille she was very active, and “…armed alike in hunger and revenge” (200). Madame Defarge had no qualms about using these most sinister instruments when the opportunity came. After the governor had been killed by the mob, and lay dead upon the street, “she put her foot upon his neck, and with her cruel knife – long ready – she hewed off his head” (203). Evidently, Madame Defarge had no problem with carrying out such a gruesome act. Madame Defarge also had a personal vendetta to fulfill in the revolution. Her brother, sister, and her sister’s husband had been killed by Marquis Evremonde. Even after the Marquis’ murder, she was determined to kill his entire line which included Charles Darney, his wife Lucie, and their daughter. However, Madame Defarge’s quest for vengeance ultimately ends in her own death. The chain that began with the murder of Madame Defarge’s family was continued by Madame Defarge’s acts of violent retribution, and eventually culminated in Madame Defarge’s own death. Three major events link together into a series of death, violence, destruction.In conclusion, in A Tale of Two Cities it is obvious that Dickens deeply sympathizes with the plight of the French peasants by emphasizing the cruelty inflicted upon them. Although Dickens condemns this oppression, he also condemns the peasants’ strategies in overcoming it. For in fighting cruelty with cruelty, the peasants only perpetuate the violence that they themselves have suffered. Dickens’ most concise view of revolution comes in the final chapter, in which he notes the slippery slope from the oppressed to the oppressor: “Sow the same seed of rapacious license and oppression over again, and it will surely yield the same fruit according to its kind. (347)” Though Dickens sees the French Revolution as a great symbol of transformation and resurrection, he emphasizes that its violent means were ultimately negating.

Light vs. Dark Throughout A Tale of Two Cities

The chaotic and churning society of the eighteenth century is well-depicted in Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities. As France goes through its intense revolution, England remains in its peaceful state. Dickens compares the two countries and their societies throughout the novel. Light and dark imagery is often used to contrast the two societies about which the novel is written, as well as to contrast characters as they change with the progressing story, for example Dr. Manette and Sydney Carton. This imagery helps to develop these characters and shows the theme of duality and contrast in other areas throughout the novel.From the very beginning, light and dark are contrasted in A Tale of Two Cities. In the opening sentence, it says “… it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness ….” (5) In the opening quote, all of the contrasting aspects of England and France are discussed. In order to stress the contrast, the light versus dark motif is included. Another reason that the light versus dark motif appears in the beginning of the novel is that this sets up the use of this motif throughout the book and helps the image unify the novel by its inclusion in the beginning, middle, and end.The light versus dark motif appears again as the reader meets one of the golden thread of the novel. Mr. Lorry goes to meet Ms. Mannette in her hotel room, where much of the story is then set up. This room is a perfect example of light/dark contrast for it is described as “a large, dark room, furnished in a funereal manner with black horsehair and heavy dark tables.” (22) This dark room is contrasted with its contents, the shining Ms. Mannette. The dark room with which Lucie is contrasted can be equated to the lives she will soon touch. Dr. Manette has been locked away in a dark prison for many years and has nearly lost his mind beyond all hope of recovery. Charles Darnay is struggling to right the wrongs done by his family and to lose the dreaded name of Evremonde. Sydney Carton has been living his degenerate life so long and so far from any light that he feels he has no purpose or worth. To all three of these men Lucie will be the shining light that will lead them to recovery and bring them out of their darkness.Within Dr. Manette’s conflicting personalities, the light/dark motif often appears. The bright side of him which has been recalled to life by Lucie is often depicted as the light side. Within Dr. Manetter, however, the shadowy prisoner still lingers. When he emerges from his ten day relapse after Lucie’s marriage to Charles, light versus dark is used to describe his resurfacing. “On the tenth morning of his suspense, he was startles by the shining of the sun into the room where a heavy slumber had overtkaen him when it was a dark night.” (205) When Dr. Manette emerges, Lorry sees it as an end to this nightmare that he had been afraid would never end. The light of Dr. Manette’s sane personality peers through into this dark night, however, and the crisis is ended.At the end of the novel, light versus dark is used in the battle between good and evil. The representative of good, Ms. Pross, fights Mlle. Defarge, evil, to the death. Both women are stong oppenents, and Dickens paints a picture of them as they face off; Ms. Pross, a shining blaze of firey red, on one side and Mlle. Defarge, a dark haired, evil woman, on the other. The battle between the two forces of light and dark cuminates as Ms. Pross cries “I’ll not leave a handful of dark hair upon your head…!” (381) This battle contrasts good and evil and clearly shows which is the stronger, as Ms. Pross, armed with love, is victorious.Throughout A Tale of Two Cities, light and dark are contrasted. The light in Ms. Manette is contrasted with the dark of the lives that intertwine with hers. Dr. Manette’s personalities are each characterized as either light or dark. The fight between Ms. Pross and Mlle. Defarge, arguably the climax of the novel, is portrayed as an epic battle between light and dark. Another light and dark contrast is used in the very ending of the novel. Carton, who has gone from a dark, depressed character to a ray of light with the ability to give Lucie a life she loves, is the final light that we see as it is snuffed out by the dark tide of the revolution. Because of his actions, Carton is able to triumph over darkness, even though he is killed. Fittingly, he ends his life with words belonging to the ultimate light, as he says, “I am the resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord, he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.” (389)

In the Absence of Hate

Geoffrey Chaucer once wrote, “Trouthe is the hyeste thing that a man may kepe” (The Canterbury Tales ëThe Knight’s Tale’). Since before the ancient Greeks, mankind has striven to discern and define truth, a noble if somewhat arduous task. Even modern society, despite losing so many of the old, “prudish” morals of preceding generations, still holds truth as one of the greatest virtues and to find truth in life, one of the greatest accomplishments. Authors such as Charles Dickens reflect this great desire to seek and find truth, using many varying mediums to express their opinions or discoveries. From the opening lines of the book, Dickens uses the method of thematic opposition to illustrate pure truth and evil lies. In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens consistently opposes characters, settings, and even his theme of revolution, presenting juxtaposed viewpoints and actions that demonstrate deeper truths about life.Two characters Dickens sets in opposition are Madame Defarge and Lucie Manette. Although Lucie Manette grew up an orphan after her mother died and her father lay languishing anonymously in a prison cell of the Bastille, although she suffered irreparable harm, Lucie Manette always finds within herself the ability to forgive wrongs and love other people. She looks for the best in every human heart and inspires those around her to love and achieve great, nearly impossible goals. Lucie Manette always appears in the form of light, often receiving the appellation of “angel.” She provides a soothing disposition to those in torment, patiently listening to sorrows and misdeeds while forgiving and encouraging the miscreant to better ways. Even though she cannot reform Sidney Carton, he realizes that she, more than anyone, would have that power; however, he feels he is already too far gone down a bad path to turn back and begin anew. He realizes, ” ëYou would have reclaimed me if anything could. You will not be the cause of my becoming worseÖThe utmost good that I am capable of now, Miss Manette, I have come here to realize’ ” (Dickens 139). Unknowingly, Miss Manette’s simple nature inspires love and aspirations filled with such generosity that eventually this great, inspired love saves her life and the lives of those dearest to her. Rising from a bitter and forlorn childhood, Miss Manette rises to great heights by following the path of love and forgiveness while she could turn bitter instead.Madame Defarge, on the other hand, is the root of all evil, leaving destruction in her wake wherever she goes. She derives her justification for the misdeeds she commits from the wrongs she and her family suffered while she was yet a child. Ever since the noble family of the EvrÈmondes raped her sister and killed her brother while he was defending his honor, Madame Defarge has sworn revenge upon the perpetrators of the crime as well as the descendents for as long as she lives. Instead of showing restraint and womanly pity, she lashes out violently against all who have ever done her a misdeed, real or imagined. Madame Defarge can neither forgive nor forget, and she only loves those who have done her no wrong. In the midst of the revolution, Madame Defarge remains a central figure because of her determination, lack of pity, and ruthlessness. “She stayedÖso close to him when he dropped dead under it, that, suddenly animated, she put her foot upon his neck, and with her cruel knifeólong readyóhewed off his head” (Dickens 203). Even though Madame Defarge, like Lucie Manette, has every opportunity to avenge her unjust childhood through love and forgiveness, she chooses the path of vengeance. However, while forgiveness fulfills the desire for closure, vengeance only heightens the thirst for blood, starting a vicious cycle of death and destruction in the place of kindness and the creation of new life. Madame Defarge’s story is a common one in France, though the culture of England provides a different way of handling injustice.The settings of London and Paris provide two more examples of opposition. London, though containing plenty of squalid neighborhoods, remains much more prosperous and clean than Paris. Even the poor and the working classes in England have enough to eat and a place to sleep, enough to buy plates and silverware and tablecloths. Mr. Cruncher, though simply a messenger for Tellson’s Bank by day and a grave robber by night, always has sufficient means to live and support a wife and child. Mr. Cruncher is by no means rich or even approaching prosperity, else he would not attempt grave robbery to supplement his income, but he does have the means to get by without his nocturnal occupation. “Mr. Cruncher’s apartments were not in a savoury neighbourhoodÖbut they were very decently keptÖThe roomÖwas already scrubbed throughoutÖthe cups and saucers arranged for breakfast, andÖa very clean white cloth was spread” (Dickens 48). Mr. Cruncher rests at the mucky bottom of English social hierarchy, but still his lowly position provides for a life far above the means of any honorable tradesman or farmer in France.France by far exceeds the worst neighborhoods in London for squalor, despair, and poverty. While Mr. Cruncher has breakfast on the table every morning, the working classes of Paris scrape to find one or two meals a day to divide meagerly between offspring and parent. The beggars on the streets of London probably earn a better income than the hard-working wood-sawyers of pre-revolutionary Paris. The people of Paris walk about the city with scarcity and depravity written on the premature wrinkles on their faces. Many do not have roofs over their heads or wood to heat their drafty homes. The nobility take everything the people ever receive, leaving the citizens with nothing, not even enough to survive. “The womanÖleft on a door-step the little pot of hot-ashes, at which she had been trying to soften the pain in her own starved fingers and toesÖmen with bare arms, matted locks, and cadaverous faces, who had emerged into the winter light from cellars” (Dickens 25). However, peasants are dispensable to the nobility because when one man dies, another is always available to take his place. The basic differences between London and Paris, a society based on self-betterment rather than a society based on survival, also create an environment conducive to opposing approaches to societal change.While Londoners approach all changes one man at a time, the people of Paris move toward revolution with a mindset of preparation to tear apart the world entirely before putting it back together again. The English people constantly seek ways to better themselves instead of overthrowing the society they dwell in, be it corrupt or perfect. Sidney Carton is a perfect example of a man who sets out to change himself and alters the world in the process. Carton’s greatest change is that from despair to an assurance that there is hope in the next world, even if he has ruined his chances in this one. Thus, though Carton dies because of his transformation, he changes his society because he acts selflessly and without fear, qualities that British society admires, inspiring others to better themselves, to change, to remember the good in others, the importance of love, and the possibility that there is always a diamond within the roughest exterior. “ëIt is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known'” (Dickens 352). Carton creates a one-man revolution by his simple faith in God and his loving, selfless revocation of his life to save a family. Carton does not try to avenge all the wrongs against him, the misjudgments of his character, the subtle slights he has suffered, but instead forgives with a higher purpose in mind. He does not condemn the French revolution that leads him to this sacrifice because he realizes that, due to of the nature of the French people, it would not be possible for him to stop the tide of hatred and bloodshed within the country. Instead, he focuses on the small circle of love that he can find, that of Lucie Manette’s family, and concentrates all his efforts towards preserving this example of love and kindness.Conversely, the French people do not attempt to change themselves but would rather change every other being because that seems to be the easier and more correct path to take. Thus, the Parisians take all the nobility under custody, charging them with crimes against the lower classes, including women and children who have not seen enough years to even understand the events around them. The peasants do not wish to teach the nobility a fairer way to live, do not wish to show them how unjust and torturous their haute-culture mannerisms were for the lower classes to bear. Instead, they choose to hate, to scream, to create a revolution that, once sparked, no one can control, attempting to exterminate a whole class of people in a horrible case of genocide that they call justice because they see that they are doing away with all the wrong the nobility created. In the process, however, the peasants do not learn to be just, wise, and honorable, but soon become just as despotic as the nobility when they find the power at their fingertips. Madame Defarge is a perfect example of this inflammable hatred that drives her to murder ruthlessly because she cannot change herself; she cannot see the equality, fraternity, liberty, or justice for which the revolution began. “ëFor other crimes as tyrants and oppressors, I have this race a long time on my register, doomed to destruction and exterminationÖThen tell Wind and Fire where to stopÖbut don’t tell me'” (Dickens 318). The people of France, like Madame Defarge, do not understand that as long as they cannot evolve, cannot forgive wrongs, they cannot build a society of better morals and virtues because the country will function in corruption, hatred, and distrust of neighbors, a distrust that would lead to the immediate death of the revolution in fear.Dickens uses the thematic opposition of love and hate, justice and injustice, and hope and despair to reveal universal truths about human nature, the ability to change, and the importance of love. When he sets Lucie Manette against Madame Defarge, he highlights the best qualities in Lucie: the love and forgiveness upon which society grows and flourishes. By setting Madame Defarge opposite these qualities, hewing off the heads of former noblemen, Dickens also shows the destructive nature of hatred and long-festering grudges. Because of her hatred of the class of nobility as a whole, Madame Defarge destroys society: she refuses to learn from the knowledge of the upper class, refuses to accept apologies from the innocent. Meanwhile, Lucie Manette creates veneration, love, and new life. She births children, forgives the faults of a man long gone down a path of wrongs and regret, and provides a stable apex around which her whole family turns, leaning on her for guidance and strength. Thus, the opposition of love and hate also represents the opposition of creation and destruction. The opposing settings of the civilizations also show a great deal about the nature of humanity. While the Londoners make the best of a rather corrupt government, the French languish in horrid squalor. Even though the British government is corrupt, the French government is more corrupt, stealing the last penny from its citizens rather than sharing the wealth and executing the laws justly. Albeit the British legal system draws and quarters its citizens at the slightest provocation, but the people do not live in filth and fear; they live their lives decently. Jerry Cruncher, though at the base of British society, lives decently, always has food on the table and a roof over his head. On the other hand, the French people of higher professions than Jerry live needy lives, surviving day by day, not even thinking of the future in any terms other than avenging the wrongs of their class. The women do not have enough to feed their children; the men do not have enough to feed their families. London and Paris show a great deal about the governments ruling the people in the living conditions of the commoners. However, the two cities show even more about the people by studying the citizens’ reactions to the corruption. The French react by simply turning the tables against the aristocracy in revenge and condemning them as freely as the nobility once condemned the peasants. The French do not understand that this method of “displacing” corruption only aids its stronghold upon the basic lifestyle of the people. Thus, while the Londoners make the best of a bad situation, the French do nothing to better themselves but simply plot revenge against every nobleman that ever walked the earth.Dickens uses the opposition in characters, setting, and revolutionary theme to show basic truths about human nature. Dickens thematically opposes love and hate, justice and injustice, and hope and despair, revealing universal truths about human nature, the ability to change, and the importance of love. Dickens shows that love always triumphs over hate because love perpetuates society while hate destroys it slowly and surely. Society must always rule justly to survive because injustice creates insurrection and hate. Injustice also brings a deep brooding over past wrongs that creates a bloodthirsty desire for revenge and eliminates a human inclination to forgive, even if one cannot forget. Without love, forgiveness disappears, and without forgiveness and love, justice disappears. When history repeats injustice, hate, and oppression generation after generation, the people slowly gain a sense of despair that lines every face, a sense that makes the people stop trying to live and start trying to die. Without hope, there is no belief in the justice of God and eternal life for those who suffer on Earth. Instead, those who despair, like the people of France, those who concede that death comes eventually, but the sooner it comes, the more painless, these people try to create their own justice, forgetting moderation, love, forgiveness: the higher qualities of life. These despairing people search for justice in death. If they must die because of the wrongs of another man, they will take the other man with them to a bloody death that satisfies no longing for fulfillment but instead creates only a greater desire for more revenge, more blood, more heads to vault high above the crowd to show the power of an oppressed people. Thus, Dickens reveals deep truths that lie at the bottom of every human heart, truths that should make one stop to think about the wrongs of the world and try to correct them by correcting the misdeeds of one’s own heart. After all, there can be no war in the absence of hate and brooding grudges.

La Guillotine: Dickens’ Philosophical Use of Figurative Language

Lasting from 1789 to 1799, the French Revolution is characterized by the uprisal of the lower class and the bloodshed associated with it. It is now recognized as the most violent, inhumane revolution in European history, and with it came new ideas of philosophy and human nature. Charles Dickens’s novel A Tale of Two Cities demonstrates these ideas through contrasting areas of Europe, England and France, during the time of the Revolution. Charles Darnay, the book’s protagonist, comes from a line of wealthy French aristocrats, but disagrees with their loose morality and denounces his family name, moving to England. There, he meets Lucie Manette, daughter of the well-respected Dr. Manette, whom he marries. Upon returning to France, however, he is put on trial for immigrating to England and is sentenced to death. Dickens’s characteristic writing style utilizes figurative language to describe the Revolution in detail. Throughout the novel, Dickens uses figurative language to portray that humanity is naturally evil, through themes of violence, chaos, and conflict between social classes.

At the center of Dickens’s concept of humanity is their bloodthirst, conveyed through personification and symbolistic characters. Perhaps the most memorable propaganda of the time period, the guillotine was introduced in 1789, at the Revolution’s beginning. Originally invented to make executions faster and cleaner, the guillotine was used as a fear tactic by the rising peasants as a warning to the nobility. In the novel, however, Dickens seems to make it its own character, and the description and personification he uses simulates its impact on the French people. He writes, “Above all, one hideous figure grew as familiar as if it had been before the general gaze from the foundations of the world–the figure of the sharp female called La Guillotine…Models of it were worn on breasts from which the Cross was discarded” (271). Throughout the chapter, Dickens continues to refer to the guillotine as “she” and “her” rather than “it”. This figurative language shows the way that most rational people would see it–as a cold, heartless villain. However, the excerpt contradicts this idea. Rather than fearing the guillotine, the French peasants celebrate it, wearing models as necklaces. The bloodthirst of the society Dickens describes celebrates death, looks forward to executions, and cares little about the lives wasted at the hands of the guillotine. The personification of the guillotine helps further the motif of bloodthirst. Another example of the motif is used through characters, specifically Jacques Three. The Jacqueses are a group of French peasants who assist Madame Defarge, a ruthless revolutionary, in seeking out and destroying aristocrats. Dickens labels Jacques Three as the most savage of the Jacqueses, especially as he speaks to Madame Defarge about the execution of Charles Darnay, when he suggests killing Darnay’s family as well. He says, “She has a fine head for it…The child also…has golden hair and blue eyes. And we seldom have a child there. It is a pretty sight!” (351). Jacques speaks of Manette’s young daughter in this excerpt, almost lusting over the idea of a small girl being beheaded before a crowd. It matters not to him that she is so young or that she is innocent of any crime. The bloodthirst of the French people has surpassed justice for the poorly treated lower class; it has become a desire to watch as many as possible be publicly slaughtered. Jacques embodies everything Dickens sees wrong with the people of the French Revolution and humanity in general, as he lets his desires take over his morality. Dickens uses Jacques and the personification of the guillotine to depict humanity in all its bloody evil.

Dickens’s use of themes of mob mentality shows his belief that humans are instinctively uncivilized and chaotic. Along with the guillotine, the French Revolution left behind a legacy of human chaos, coining the term “mob mentality” as a way to describe the phenomenon that was occurring. This (what) is especially prevalent in Dickens’s description of the Storming of the Bastille. An actual historical event of the time period, thousands of angry revolutionaries banded together to destroy the Bastille, a national prison. The language he uses to describe the storming sticks out to the reader, giving them a sense of franticness. He writes, “With a roar that sounded as if all the breath in France had been shaped into the detested word, the living sea rose, wave on wave, depth on depth, and overflowed the city to that point. Alarm-bells ringing, drums beating, the sea raging and thundering on its new beach, the attack began” (214). As storming a prison as large as the Bastille was unprecedented and historically relevant, it is difficult for an author to illustrate the magnitude of the pandemonium that ensued. However, Dickens compares the event to a stormy sea, alarm bells, and the sound of drums, thus giving the reader a sense of the unruliness and outrageousness of the attack. It is also a significant example of mob mentality, as for the first time groups of unrelated, unfamiliar people join forces to destroy a common enemy. A storming as massive as Dickens writes it is implied to be the result of an extremely large group of people working together, which supports the theme of mob mentality. The cooperation of these people seems natural, almost instinctive, showing that Dickens believes chaos to be the natural state of humanity. Another example of this theme is shown in the first scene in Paris, when a wine shop window breaks, spilling wine into the street. The peasants, starving and in poverty, eagerly soak up the wine and attempt to preserve it as they can no longer afford it. The event quickly escalates into complete disarray, as fights break out over the wine and children run free. Dickens writes, “A shrill sound of laughter and of amused voices–voices of men, women, and children–resounded in the street while this wine game lasted. There was a little roughness in the sport” (37). Dickens describes this event as a game, as if the fight is nothing but rough playfulness. Children act like this situation is a normal affair, playing and laughing amongst the wreckage. The scene is not only used to display the turmoil of the French lower class, but also shows the economic instability of the time period, as peasants are willing to drink wine off the street in order to have something to drink. The mass disorder of the wine spill shows an instinctive, almost animalistic reaction to stimuli in time of need, proving that humans tend toward chaos. The figurative language used to describe the storming of the Bastille and the wine shop scene depict Dickens’s belief of natural chaos as a human trait.

Hatred between social classes was the driving force behind the French Revolution, and Dickens uses this theme through contrasting characters. Revolutionaries of the time period argued that the nobility of France was nothing but arrogant, unsympathetic, and selfish. This belief is embodied through Monseigneur. He is hated throughout town for being heartless and cruel, and in one scene in specific, he cares nothing for a father whose child he recklessly kills with his carriage. Monseigneur says, “It is extraordinary to me…that you people cannot take care of yourselves and your children. One or the other of you is for ever in the way. How do I know what injury you have done to my horses?” (116). It is clear through Monseigneur’s way of speaking that he is not at all sorry for the child’s death, and furthermore seems to look down on the lower class. To him, they are unworthy creatures of filth that are trapped in poverty by their own fault. Only concerned with his own wealth, he lacks the heart that the lower class seems to possess. Dickens uses him as a vessel to represent the prejudice the nobility holds over the peasants, and from the way the citizens react to him, it is clear that this is normal for most noblemen. Dickens’s belief that humans naturally hold prejudice over the less fortunate is presented with the use of Monseigneur. Contrastingly, Dickens also shows the hatred the lower class has in return for the wealthy through Madame Defarge. Madame Defarge is known for being ruthless and extreme, carrying with her a list of aristocrats she deems worthy of execution. Though no character seems to know why she possesses so much hatred, it is evident that she is used as a symbol of this hatred. Dickens writes, “A brooding sense of wrong, and an inveterate hatred of a class, opportunity had developed her into a tigress. She was absolutely without pity. If she had ever had the virtue in her, it had quite gone out of her” (353). Madame Defarge is in many ways similar to Monseigneur, as they are both symbols of the hatred between social classes and are characterized by lack of heart. Defarge’s hatred for the upper class is likely due to their exorbitant lifestyle that caused an economic crisis in France in the first place, and as the excerpt states, this hatred has led to a decline of her virtue and rationality. Though these characters come from vastly different backgrounds, both contain extreme contempt for their opposite social class, showing that Dickens believes this trait to be common of all humans, rather than one of a singular social class. Dickens uses Monseigneur and Madame Defarge to embody the differences and conflict between levels of hierarchy that is natural to the human race.

As one of the most well known historical fiction books of all time, Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities does more than retell the story of the French Revolution. It brings the reader a pessimistic concept of humanity, stating that as a race, humans tend towards violence, chaos, and hatred. However, what is most impressive about Dickens’s work is his portrayal of these themes, using description, personification, and characters to embody what he sees as basic flaws of humanity, and in the perfect, primitive setting–the French Revolution. Though Dickens’s themes appear to be despondent and hopeless, the positive ending of the novel implies that if society upholds civilized virtues and morals, it can overcome these tendencies and accomplish greatness.

From Dreariness to Chaos: The Significant Role of Imagery in “A Tale of Two Cities”

Imagination is a key requirement when reading in order to interpret or “experience” significant settings and scenes that reflect specific moods throughout the story. An author’s use of adjectives through various senses helps the reader to do so. As demonstrated in the second book of “A Tale of Two Cities”, the author, Charles Dickens, describes specific scenes by stimulating multiple senses at which help the reader understand the setting and atmosphere. First, book the second begins with a very detailed description of Tellson’s Bank in order to help the reader experience the gloominess of the setting. Second, the twenty-first chapter provides a detailed description of the Storm of Bastille in order to help the reader feel the chaotic intensity of the event. To illustrate, imagery is provided during the explanation of Tellson’s Bank and the Storm of Bastille to assist the reader’s pre conceived visuals of these specific areas of the book. Therefore, Charles Dickens utilizes imagery in order to help the reader create a sensory image, in which helps the reader understand and “experience” a specific setting and atmosphere in the second book of “A Tale of Two Cities”.

Generally speaking, chapter one is introduced with a detailed description of Tellson’s Bank through the senses, sight, hearing, touch and smell. For example, Tellson’s Bank is well known for their “old, dark, ugly, and discomforting” building, yet they are boastful of their inconvenient interior and are one of the most respected banks in all of England. As soon as an individual enters the bank, they struggle to “push” the “old, creaking” front door and elderly men behind “small” counters greet them as light “shines” though “dirty” windows. Money and financial documents have a “foul” odor as if they are “rotting”. The description in the book stimulates the senses as it uses various adjectives and adverbs such as, “bursting open […] rattle in its throat […] little counters […] oldest of men […] dingiest of windows” and “a musty odor as if they were fast decomposing into rags”. All at which are details that are associated with sight, hearing, touch, and smell that assist the brains vague interpretations of the scenery. Thus, making the reader “feel” as if they are witnessing the gloomy setting used to establish the overall gloomy mood of the chapter. Therefore, Charles Dickens utilizes specific senses when describing Tellson’s Bank to provide a sensory image of the scene for the reader to further “experience” the “darkness, oldness, and ugliness” of the setting.

Moreover, chapter twenty-one provides a detailed description of the mob during the attack on Bastille through the senses, sight, hearing and touch. For instance, during the attack, the governor is “beaten” and “stabbed” to death by multiple people. Madame Defarge “beheads” the “lifeless” body with her knife while the “violent” crowd carries no pity. Several adverbs and adjectives in the book are used to describe the scene such as, “long-gathering rain of stabs and blows […] hewed off his head […] sea of black and threatening waters […] destructive upheaving” and “voices of revenge”. The brain creates its own images of the scene, however, the adjective’s and adverb’s association with certain senses all at once, further develops their image. Thus, making reader “perceive” the chaotic event used to establish the intense environment at that point of the chapter. Therefore, a sensory image of the Storm of Bastille is provided through eloquent descriptions in order to help the reader “experience” the “destructive upheaving” of the scene.

Charles Dickens describes specific scenes in book the second of “A Tale of Two Cities” by stimulating various senses at which help the reader “experience” the setting and mood of a scene. First, the gloomy setting of Tellson’s Bank is described in detail through sight, hearing, smell and touch in order to further develop the reader’s experience of the gloominess of the mood. Second, the chaotic scene of the Storm of Bastille is eloquently described through sight, hearing, and touch to develop the reader’s experience with the intense atmosphere. When reading a novel, it is always half the participation of the author and half the participation of the reader, as their imagination is a key component to a great story. The more descriptive the author is, the better they stimulate the reader’s senses, the better the reader’s experience and imagination of a scene is, and thus allows the reader to be more engaged in the story. In conclusion, Charles Dickens skillfully utilizes imagery as a tool to develop the reader’s imagination in order to provide the experience of settings or scenes, and atmospheres throughout the second book of “A Tale of Two Cities”.