A Tale of Two Cities
The Idea Of Moderation in Charles Dickens’ Novel “A Tale Of Two Cities”
An inscription in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi said “Nothing to Excess.” In today’s society, moderation is essential in order for a person to lead a meaningful life. If a person conducts their life without moderation in mind there will be extremely negative outcomes. This idea is very visible in society and in Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities.
In A Tale of Two Cities the author makes a social comment on the effects of excess in a society. The paradox of the first line of the novel is used to illustrate how nothing is either one way or the other. Nobody should have too much or little of one thing or emotion. Dickens wants to address the point that balance is key and that everything should be done with moderation in mind. One of Dickens’ characters in A Tale of Two Cities named Sydney Carton portrays this idea perfectly. Carton expresses his love for Lucie Manette. Later, Carton realizes that Lucie does not return his romantic feelings, but he still wishes to do everything in his power to make her happy. Carton later takes his own life in place of Lucie’s husband’s in order to make her happy.
Through this event, Dickens wishes to illustrate that even an excess of a beneficial emotion such as love will eventually become harmful. Carton had too much love for Lucie and therefore got killed trying to make her happy. Another character, Madame Defarge represents this idea of excess versus moderation. Madame Defarge’s family was brutally murdered by the Evremonde brothers. While this would be a logical reason to seek revenge, she took revenge many steps too far and set out to kill all the descendants of Evremonde and their families. Mrs. Defarge’s hatred blinded her into seeing innocent people as guilty. Dickens strives to show how feelings of wanting revenge are natural in a situation like this, but excessive feelings of hatred can lead to an extremely dangerous outcome.
On the other hand, some may say that an excessive amount of a positive thing is beneficial. An article in The Huffington Post titled “6 Thoughts that Prove you can Never have too Much Kindness” discusses how a person can never perform too many acts of kindness. The author’s perspective is that the world will never have an excessive amount of such a beneficial thing like kindness. Similarly, an article from the Entrepreneur’s Yoda titled “To Achieve Entrepreneurial Success, You can Never know too Much” discusses the idea of a person never being able to obtain too much knowledge. This article supports the popular idea that “knowledge is power” and therefore it is impossible for an individual to know too much. While these articles make a point, even positive acts such as acts of kindness should be done in moderation. While kindness is clearly a positive thing, a person should think about themselves as well as others.
According to an article in Psychology Today, too many acts of kindness and generosity could be a “sign of an overly submissive nature, or even as a symptom of mental illness.” (Simons) Acts of kindness should clearly be performed, but not to such an extent that a person ends up hurting themselves. Similarly, studies have shown that having too much knowledge about a certain topic can be a major disadvantage. An article in Elite Daily says that rather than benefiting a person, “having too much information on a subject can curse a person into thinking they need to figure it all out before they get started.” (Choi) A person with too much knowledge tends to overthink data which can lead to anxiety. For example, when my principal told people that our school had received a threat, I began to worry about the school’s safety and other facts that I would not have been worrying about had he not told us.
Overall, it is clear that a person should not perform any actions to an extent where they become excessive. Every person living in today’s society needs to learn to balance everything and never have an excess amount of one thing. Even having too much of a positive emotion such as love or kindness can lead to a dangerous situation. In life, a person should live by the words inscribed at the Temple of Apollo in order to live a happy, balanced life.
Religion Question in a Tale of Two Cities
A Tale of Two Cities: A Christian Novel?
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens delves into the spiritual concept of finding meaning in life through death. Sydney Carton’s act of true, boundless love should resonate within the hearts of Christians, as it is established in John 15:13 that “Greater love has no one than this: Than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” However, should this connection compel us to go so far as to label A Tale of Two Cities as a Christian novel?
Before the aforementioned question can be answered, there must first be a solid definition of what it means for a novel to be classified as Christian. If a Christian novel is one that is explicitly stated to be by Christians and for Christians, it can be said that the Christian label to be inapplicable to novels, and more so applicable to self-help books and the like. Most would agree that it is not particularly common to see an outright proclamation of Christianity from every protagonist involved in an ultimately fictitious story that is typically only a vehicle for a concept. While concepts are the brainchildren of living, opinionated beings, concepts themselves are not alive. They are brought to life within us, and applied to our own personal truths.
Under this definition, A Tale of Two Cities does not qualify as a Christian novel. However, A Tale of Two Cities is an important read for Christians because it is an accurate representation of the kind of love that Christianity sets out to extend toward all of humanity. It is a reflection of the best of what humanity is capable of. It is laced with the impurity of pride, but ultimately overtaken by the transcendent power of the gift of love that has been given unto man.
Some have presented the idea that Sydney Carton is a Christ-like figure, but Carton is very human. The reader’s first impression of him is rather bleak– he is a cynic and a slave to alcohol, aimlessly wandering through his life, in belief that he has lost sight of his only dream. He is in love with Lucie Manette, but the good in him is present enough to resist pursuit as long as he is caught in his cycle of hopelessness. This immediately gives us a clue toward the ever- present intensity of his affection toward Lucie– but his imperfection is ever-present as well.
Carton is not a reflection of Christ, but a reflection of the work of Christ within humanity. Even as he finds the meaning of his life through his sacrifice, there is a reasonable fraction of pride involved. In the midst of the beautiful, selfless thoughts running through his mind, he envisions Lucie and notes, “I see a child upon her bosom, who bears my name.” (292) He has the desperate longing to be remembered and revered that all human beings would have in the event of sacrifice.
However, this longing to be revered intertwines with Christ’s influence upon him as he recalls the passage recited at his father’s funeral, “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.” In this moment, the reader beholds the unlikely hero in his entirety. The reader sees his good intentions, pride, love, fear, and ultimate serenity as he whispers this verse to himself before the guillotine. The reader sees every last corner of his humanity as he surrenders it to the love that demands his whole being.
The spirituality of the concept addressed in the astonishing ending of the book may cause one to wonder, how could anybody ignore the link to Christianity? However, this is not a matter of ignorance, it is a matter of refusing to limit the powerful message behind A Tale of Two Cities to a Christian audience. The profound concept of the book should be recognized as important to all people of all religions, regardless of the fact that Carton’s actions are influenced by a power that transcends humanity.
Humanity is created in an even greater love than that which Carton displays in A Tale of Two Cities, and there is hope for all human beings to be capable of aspiring toward that love. If A Tale of Two Cities is labeled as a Christian novel, could it not be said that its reach is being devalued? Carton’s display of the love Christ has instilled within His creation is capable of moving not only Christians, but all people of all religions. Perhaps those who have read A Tale of Two Cities have started to crave that kind of affection toward another human being, and have began pursuit of whatever it takes to acquire such a fulfilling, compelling love for another.
An overview of the theme of light versus darkness in 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)
A Look at the Theme of 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.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: the Impact of Close Relationships on People
Many people have experienced a close relationship before, whether in the form of family, friendship, or falling in love with someone. From modern popular culture, people have been taught that love conquers. What it is that love is conquering is a variable that differs in each work of literature, and maybe even for each character. Though Charles Dickens wrote his book, A Tale of Two Cities in 1859, it shares a similar modern message. Dickens believes that love is always the answer, and can solve any problem. This essay will prove that close relationships impact people, and Dickens’ novel will support it.
Love can be found in the form of family. Strong families have unconditional love. They help each other out, no questions asked. In A Tale of Two Cities, two of the main characters are a father and daughter. The father, Dr. Manette, has been imprisoned for 18 years, so his daughter, Lucy, has never gotten to know him. However, as soon as she sees him, instead of disregarding him, she goes to him and attempts to reassure him. “If, when I hint to you of a Home that is before us, where I will be true to you with all my duty and with all my faithful service, I bring back the remembrance of a Home long desolate, while your poor heart pined away, weep for it, weep for it!”
Giving extremely significant characters such a close relationship allows Dickens to convey his views on love. Writing about love in the form of family allows readers to see that love can be strong and unconditional. It allows readers to see how important familial love truly is. Love can be found in the form of romance. Falling in love is something that most people experience at least once in their life. Romantic love isn’t just about people’s feelings, though. It takes hard work and respect for another person. It means looking out for someone else, even if it’s hard work. Love is a promise between two people to care about each other more than anyone else. “From that time, in all weathers, she waited there two hours. As the clock struck two, she was there, and at four she turned resignedly away… she never missed a single day.”
The fact that Lucie waited, continuously, for Charles, knowing that she wouldn’t see him but he would see her, shows that love is full of compassion. She knew that, although it hurt her to wait for him every day-knowing that he was trapped in the prison, and knowing what was happening to nobles-, it gave Charles hope and comfort in his time of need. Love makes people stronger. When people love someone, they try as hard as they can to make them better. What’s more, the person they love tries to become better to make their loved one happy. People try to do the best they can to support each other, and to do this, they must be strong, even on days when their loved one is weak. “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. ”
Before Lucie, Dr. Manette was still trapped in the bleakness of his cell in the Bastille, even though it was only in his head. He would retreat into himself, and it would be a long time before he came back. However, with Lucie there to help him and coax him back to reality, he became stronger, and stayed in the present more and more. Love impacts people. People do everything they can for their loved ones. This includes changing behaviors they know affect the people they care about, and it also can change their viewpoints on life itself. Love can impact one person, and in turn, it affects the lives of the people around them. In A Tale of Two Cities, Sidney Carton is an alcoholic who, when not heavily drinking, is extremely sensible. However, he realizes one night that he is in love with Lucie. When he confesses his love to her, Lucie reveals that she does not feel the same. This proves not to have diminished Carton’s love when he saves Lucie’s husband for her sake. “‘Are you dying for him?’ she whispered. ‘And his wife and child. Hush! Yes. ’”
Carton used to show no emotion, and he was extremely logical. However, when it comes to Lucie, he makes hasty and irrational decisions. When Carton learns that Lucie’s husband-Charles Darnay- is trapped in the Bastille and will soon be executed, he is the one who trades places with Darnay, even though it means certain death for himself. He does this not only out of love for Lucie, but also because of his friendship with Charles Darnay. Carton’s irrational behavior only started when he fell in love with Lucie. The fact that he could risk it all for Lucie’s happiness, while simultaneously saving Darnay’s life, shows that his love for Lucie has impacted his decision making and his emotions, and has triggered change in the lives of others.
Overall, many people have felt some form of love in their lives, whether through family, friendship, or romance. Many authors include themes about love in their books. One of these authors is Dickens, who believes that love can truly solve every problem. This is shown in his book through strong families, romantic love, strength gained through love, and changes caused by love.
Charles Dickens’ Use of Fate As Portrayed In His Book, A Tale Of Two Cities
Coincidence in A Tale of Two Cities
Coincidence has often been used by writers to move and enhance the plot, despite being condemned by contemporary literary reviewers for being responsible for making a narrative unlikely. Charles Dickens utilizes the feature of coincidence as a symbolic device that brings events and characters in the story together. The events appear unrealistic, but the reader eventually gets distracted when the plot turns out to be believable. Charles Dickens utilizes twist of fate in the themes of personality and love as an influential instrument to drive the plot; hence, the reader concentrates on the story that the unbelievable transforms into reality.
When reading the novel, the booklover is too occupied in the plot to perceive that the circumstance is quite improbable. For instance, the likeness between Darnay and Carton is noted early in the story. The idea seems odd and suitable at the trial- a meager reason for Darnay to escape court hearing. The reader disregards the likeness of Darnay and Sidney, but the resemblance is realized through a passage in the novel that describes the on-lookers’ behavior due to the resemblance (Dickens 73).
The appearance of the two characters is significant in the development of the plot of the story. In the real sense, Carton is envious of Darnay because he is lost in his self-failure. Dickens utilizes the coincidence of resemblance to illustrate that Carton seeks to change his character to that of a greater man such as Darnay. The recognition of the similarity between the two characters is plotted early in the story to distract the reader by other events that take place in the novel. The reader, therefore, forgets the how odd the resemblance appears. The reader already barely questions the fate of Darnay when Sydney decides to shift places with Darnay. The enthusiasm to consider the circumstance is compounded by the reality that he is so contented at the endurance of Darnay that he does not imagine the possibility of the situation in the real life.
Dickens’s novel also portrays coincidence in the bond between Lucie’s companion and Madam DeFarge. It is indeed factual that Darnay is the descendant of the men who are accountable for the death of Madam Defarge. Her past gives a reason for the hate she had for Lucie, whom she formerly had concern. The reader realizes more concerning Madam Defarge, thus explaining the anger and hatred she had for Lucie. In connection to the occurrence of Roger Cly’s death, it is astonishing to find out that Jerry is the individual responsible for digging up Roger Cly’s carcass. The reader gets too absorbed in wondering about Jerry’s job and at the same time gets disturbed about Jerry’s terrified situation to realize how bizarre the happening is. The reader is too absorbed that he does not believe the possibility of Jerry digging up Roger Cly.
The incidence when Sydney dies successfully for Darnay, the uncaring nature of the French people explains every detail. According to the revolutionaries, what is important is that people die. Coincidentally, the reader does not only want to abhorre the French for wishing that people could pass away but also wishes to perceive Darnay exist. The reader can achieve the alternatives by accept as true the idea that Sydney and Darnay changed places effectively.
However, Jerry’s placement in France does not seem much of a coincidence but a normal cast of the plot. Before leaving for France, Jerry did a number of things for Jarvis Lorry and later agreed to accompany him to Paris for protection. The reader also apparently gets concerned about Lorry’s security in Paris to even assume of the realism of Jerry going with him to Paris. As a result, the reader is not stunned by Jerry’s situation in France (Dickens 282).
It is a coincidental that Darnay and Lucie, whose parents have a blood relation, get together and gets in love with each other for the first time. The person who reads the novel may thinks of an obvious feeling that Darnay has for Lucie from the start. The reader perhaps only thinks of the two meeting and getting married as their love is worth the reader’s attention. The reader, therefore, does not question the believability of the situation. Getting to know how the past of the two lovers intertwine, it helps in elaborating part of Dr. Manette’s strange actions. The decision by the author to make his characters real guarantees that the reader cannot stay emotionally detached from them. The emotions, therefore, blinds the reader to any unrealistic situations.
The coincidence in Charles Dickens’s story is significant because they assist in the expansion of some of the vital subjects of the narrative. The topic of love is fruitfully framed in the story due to the number of coincidences. For example, it seems unlikely that the individual responsible for noticing Sydney and Darnay, Madam Defarge, has gone missing under unclear circumstances. Her death in a conflict with Mrs. Pross elaborates her disappearance. The motherly figure is loved and respected by the reader because of her unconditional compassion towards Lucie. The lady even dares to take a bullet for Lucie, and eventually beats her foe. Her loyalty towards Lucie adjoins to the topic of love in the narrative.
The idea of love in the story is also embodied by the example of Carton’s compliance to die for Darnay. Dickens’s plot of the story portrays Sydney as a man who is upright in his thinking. In the story, Sydney remarks that he shall never be any better and instead get worse (Dickens 153). The reader gets to consider that Sydney does not respect his life as much as he minds Darnay’s life and the pleasure his endurance will convey to Lucie. The love and bravery that even the reader wishes to experience is personalized in Sydney.
The coincidence in the story explains the resurrecting the power of love as indicated when Lorry manages to locate Lucie after ditching her several years prior to the meeting. The unexpected coincidental events perfectly develop the plot of the story. Without the utilization of coincidence by Dickens, the topic of love would not have been influential in the novel. The reader wishes for his favorite character to survive but does not realize the implausible circumstances as he is too caught up in the story.
In a nutshell, Dickens’s fondness for coincidence in the novel is a perfect reflection of his view of the world. Dickens dwells on resemblances and surprises of life to bring out the theme of love but not as a result of faulty plotting or lack of imagination. Coincidence is also used by the author to bring out ironical situations and reveal hidden meaning to the reader. Throughout the story, the aspect of believing is maintained since the reader is much occupied in the plot that he cannot notice any unrealistic state of affairs.
The theme of pollution of power in a tale of two cities
From even the beginning of civilization, social hierarchy molded the formation and development of society. Whether it be the power of a single monarch or that of a democratic board of officials, authority always induces change in both the lives of those under rule and even the life of the one in power. Charles Dickens’ timeless novel A Tale of Two Cities follows the conspiracies buried in the heart of the French Revolution, between Paris and London. Centered on the cast of the Manettes, Evremondes, and those touched by either the kind hand of the former or the wicked hand of the latter, the classic tale is one of undeniable love and sacrifice amid a raging revolution. Although Dickens sets the scene with government corruption and power-hungry nobles as the cause of immense social upheaval, the Marquis, Madame Defarge, and Charles Darnay also fell into the wrath of power and its consequences. As portrayed in A Tale of Two Cities, the idea that even the most upright individuals are tainted and warped by authority prevails as a horrifying, yet realistic truth.
Firstly, the characterization and actions of the Marquis serve as a classic example of how power corrupts one’s moral identity. In “Monseigneur in Town,” Marquis Evremonde stormed off from Monseigneur’s reception, only for his speeding carriage to strike a child on the road. In response to his crime, the Marquis coldly blamed the father, exclaiming, “It is extraordinary to me that you people cannot take care of yourselves and your children… How do I know what injury you have done to my horses?… I would ride over any of you very willingly and exterminate you from the earth” (Dickens 111-12). This quote demonstrates the haughty, insensitive manner of the Marquis, prioritizing the safety of his horses over the life of an innocent child. Birthed into the Evremonde family of nobles, he lacked compassion for the peasants while assuming they could simply abandon a life of poverty for a better one. For a man with considerable influence, the Marquis certainly did not value the lives of the lower class. Therefore, Marquis Evremonde represents the French aristocracy and their unanimous disregard for the citizens. Moreover, as revealed in Dr. Manette’s secret letter, the Marquis and his brother took advantage of their aristocratic power to conceal Dr. Manette after he learned of the heinous crimes they committed against a peasant girl and her brother. After intercepting Manette’s letter to the Minister, “the two brothers… identified [him] with a single gesture… and [he] was brought to [his] living grave,” the Bastille where he would be wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years (Dickens 329). Therefore, the Evremondes used their status and inheritance to commit atrocities such as these, which would later dictate the infamous Evremonde family. The French peasants feared the nobility for their recklessness with the authority they were so privileged to hold. Overall, the Marquis embodies the elite French class in A Tale of Two Cities in his corruption of power and subsequent injustices they perform on the lower classes.
While Dickens credits the upper class as the main abusers of power, Madame Defarge’s actions also distinguish her as someone overtaken by the temptations of authoritative control. Strong-willed and bloodthirsty for the downfall of the Evremondes, revenge fueled Madame Defarge’s mission to end the nobility with a chop of the guillotine. As the younger sister of the peasant girl and boy slain by the Marquis, Defarge vowed to avenge them by ending the Evremonde line. However, her rage consumed her as Madame Defarge targeted those with any connection to the Evremondes, including Lucie Manette and her daughter, as “it was nothing to her, that [Darnay’s] wife be made a widow and his daughter an orphan; that was insufficient punishment, because they were her natural enemies and her prey, and as such had no right to live” (Dickens 359). Thus, as a leader of the French Revolution from St. Antoine, this influence in deciding who lives and who dies (or rather, whose name is knitted and whose is not) engrossed her to replace any morality of her conscience. She would only hold satisfaction in murdering all of the Marquis’ descendants, regardless of their connection to the crime against her sister. Carrying the blood of the Evremonde family and marrying an Evremonde was enough for Madame Defarge to mark them down. When Lucie pleaded for Madame Defarge to side with Darnay, she bluntly rejected her plea, arguing, “The wives and mothers we have been used to see… have not been greatly considered?… All our lives, we have seen our sister-women suffer, in themselves and in their children, poverty, nakedness, hunger, thirst, sickness, misery, oppression, and neglect of all kinds?” (Dickens 267). Ironically, Madame Defarge failed to reflect on her actions which can be compared to the horrific injustices of the Marquis himself. In both cases, one who yielded authority used it to commit crimes, thus tearing apart families and destroying the lives of many. Ultimately, despite Madame Defarge’s firm stance against the nobility, her control on the Revolution corrupted her just as it did to the Marquis.
Departing from the incidents with the Marquis and Madame Defarge, the concept of the insidious nature of authority also applies to those who do not abuse their sovereignty themselves, as in the case of Charles Darnay. Born as an Evremonde, yet renouncing his title and association with the infamous Evremonde household, the family’s reputation preceded Charles Darnay, and consequently led to much suffering during his lifetime. As Dickens emphasized how his ancestors polluted the simple life he tried to live, “Drawn to the Loadstone Rock” describes Darnay’s reflection on the potential results of returning to Paris: “He knew very well, that in his horror of the deed which had culminated the bad deeds and bad reputation of the old family house… He knew that very well, that in his love for Lucie, his renunciation of his social place, though by no means new to his own mind, had been hurried and incomplete” (Dickens 238). This quote shows that Darnay could not escape from his family’s history, even when it threatened the lives of his wife and daughter. Additionally, this connects to Shelley’s assertion; despite his divergence from the Evremonde lineage, the atrocities linked to the household he was born into still haunted him, and this was a direct result of the powerful position in society Darnay inherited. Another example is when Monsieur Defarge denied Darnay his rights, ignoring their mutual relationship with Dr. Manette and Lucie. The two argued about Darnay’s motives for coming to Paris: “‘I have come here voluntarily, in response to that written appeal… Is that not my right?’… ‘Other people have been similarly buried in worse prisons, before now.’ ‘But never by me, Citizen Defarge.’ ‘I will do nothing for you. My duty is to my country and the People. I am the sworn servant of both’” (Dickens 251). As shown in this quote, Defarge judged Darnay on the Evremonde title rather than on his morals and relationship with the Manettes. Therefore, even when Charles Darnay abandoned his name to live separate from his relatives, power still polluted his life and ruined his chances of living a peaceful life with his family. Darnay himself was not corrupted by power, but nonetheless, it devoured him and those around him thanks to the notorious Evremonde title.
The venomous nature of power is demonstrated by significant characters in A Tale of Two Cities: the Marquis, Madame Defarge, and Charles Darnay. Sovereignty can overtake one’s morals and taint one’s reputation, regardless of whether they were corrupted themselves or by those connected to them. The three characters all encountered the unethical results of abusing power, directly and indirectly, through their roles in Dickens’ novel. However, Dickens and Shelley both instill a sense of self-reflection in their readers; some use privileges to uphold their morals while others patronize those around them with this power. Ultimately, those who perform the latter suffer as a result, just as the Marquis, Madame Defarge, and Darnay all paid for their actions and their family’s actions with their own lives or the life of another.
Similarities in A Tale Of Two Cities
Two people who seem like opposites can be more alike than people think. In A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay display many differences even though they have similar intentions. An apathetic alcoholic who works with Mr Stryver as a lawyer, Sydney Carton describes his life as a complete waste and claims that he doesn’t care for anything.
But behind the facade that Carton uses, he actually does all the work for every case in court and he eventually transforms into a man of merit. On the other hand, born into a wealthy and notorious French family, Charles chose to live in England because he could not tolerate the injustices in France. Others consider Charles as a man of great virtue and as a gentleman. Although Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay present themselves in different ways, both men commit sacrifices in order to help others, and both are resurrected in a way that benefitted themselves.
Sydney Carton presents himself as insolent and indifferent to others while Charles Darnay presents himself as a very polite and mannered individual. During the trial for Darnay’s life, Sydney Carton slumps on his chair as if he does not care: this one man sat leaning back, with his torn gown half off him, his untidy wig put on just as it had happened to light on his head after removal, his hands in his pockets, and his eyes on the ceiling as they had been all day(Dickens 77). Even in times of great importance and formality like Darnay’s trial, Sydney still behaves indifferent. By the way Carton presents himself during the hearing he does not show any intention to save Charles. Sydney Carton acts as if he would not want to work and would rather be somewhere else. After Charles Darnay’s acquittal he shows thankfulness to Lucie and Stryver for helping him since he was acquitted: Mr. Darnay had kissed her hand fervently and gratefully, and had turned to Stryver, whom he warmly thanked(83). Oppositely of Sydney, Charles shows his mannerism to others in any situation. Darnay behaves as a gentleman-like figure because he goes out of his way to thank and even tell them that he owes his life to them. Charles shows that he has proper behavior which leaves a good impression of him. Darnay and Carton show their many differences in their actions with how they interact with others
Despite the different ways Carton and Charles display themselves, they both show selflessness to where they would abandon their own livelihoods because they know that they should do the right thing. When Charles argues with the Marquis on whether his family has been doing wrong, Charles renounces his title giving up incredible wealth and explains why: To the eye it is fair enough, here; but seen in its integrity, under the sky, and by daylight, it is a crumbling tower of waste, mismanagement, extortion, debt, mortgage, oppression, hunger, nakedness, and suffering(126). Giving up unimaginable wealth and status to do good for others is an important sacrifice that Charles made. Charles cares more about his honor and being righteous rather than living a luxurious life. He is very empathetic because he does what is right to help others. After Charles was sentenced to be executed Little Lucie begs Carton to help Charles, Carton then whisperers something into Lucie’s ear knowing that he is going to die for the Manettes: A life you love(334). Sydney Carton is going to sacrifice his life for Lucie because he loves her. Giving up one’s life for another person is the greatest act of love that anyone can do for someone. Sydney so selfless that he would lose his life for someone he loves. Darnay and Carton both show altruism in their actions because they both offered up something for the better.
Charle Darnay was recalled to life in a way that he was given a second chance to live, and Sydney was recalled to life in a way that he was able to gain salvation. After Charle’s trial for his life he is congratulated by Jarvis Lorry, Stryver, Alexander Manette, and Lucie for being acquitted: Doctor Manette, Lucie Manette his daughter, Mr Lorry, the solicitor for the defense, and its counsel Mr. Stryver, stood gathered round Mr. Charles Darnay-just released-congratulating him on his escape from death(81). Since Charles Darnay was acquitted he is given a second chance to life. With this second chance Darnay gains confidence and is able come to terms with his family and the Marquis. Charles takes advantage of being recalled to life and gains benefits from it. When Sydney awaits his execution he thinks: ?It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest than I have ever known'(372). By taking the place in Darnay’s execution he is finally satisfied with himself. Sydney now gains purpose and salvation. Carton is recalled to life because he realizes he knows that he is going to do something good for the Manettes. Before Carton is executed he has a prophetic view of the future: “I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous, and happy”(372). Sydney’s resurrection turns him into a hero. He is going to die knowing that everyone he cared for will be happy. Sydney redeems himself and his life is restored. Being resurrected like Charles and Sydney can bring rewards and change you for the better.
Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay seem like polar opposites, but in actuality are alike. They were both made better people through sacrifice and resurrection. Sydney was able to change the way he looks at the world and Charles was able to redeem his family name by doing what is right for the people they care for. But both men had to make hard choices to become better people. Sometimes making the choice to sacrifice something that is really important can be a really difficult decision to make. But making sacrifices can help people that they love and resurrect people in a way that changes them for the better.
A Tale of Two cities by Charles Dickens
A Tale Of Two Cities was written by Charles Dickens, Published in London, by Chapman Hall in 1859. One of the main characters, Charles Darnay, leaves his hometown England because of the cruel acts of his family the Evremonde. He then travels to Paris where he is sentenced to go to prison because of his family the Evremonde.
It is 1775, Mr.Jarvis Lorry is road tripping to Paris to explain to Lucie Manette, The long lost daughter of Dr.Manette, that she is not an orphan after all. Lorry then explains to Lucie that she must travel with him to meet her father Dr.Manette, The father of Lucie Manette who spent eighteen years in prison prior to the French Revolution, who had recently been released from prison from the Bastille. Dr.Manette had really lost all hope until he met his daughter for the first time. He knew Lucie was his daughter as soon as he compared a string of his wives hair to hers.He then regained all the hope and traveled back to London with Lucie and Mr.Lorry. Aproximatley five years after Manette and Lucie reunited the man named Charles Darnay was sent to court in London on account of treason for providing their English secrets to the French and Sydney Carton, a young drunk, depressed English man, who looks remarkably like Charles Darnay, precludes any positive identification and allows Darnay’s acquittal. After court Darnay, Carton, and Stryver eventually fall in love with Lucie. All of the men sway over Lucie, but she favors Darnay and marries him. A while later, Carton alone comes to Lucie’s home and tells her that while expecting no love in return, he would do anything for her at any time.
Meanwhile Darnay has been hinting to Dr.Manette that he is a French nobleman who has renounced his title. Weeks later after their wedding, Darnay hears that his Uncle Monseigneur, has been murdered in his bed for his crimes against the French people, which means that Darnay is next in line to gain that title. He tells no more of this than to Dr.Manette. Darnay then travels back to Paris where he is imprisoned as a nobleman and an emigrant. Back home Dr.Manette, Miss Pross,Lucie’s governess, and friend, Lucie, and her child all follow Darnay to Paris. Once they arrive Darnay is once again denounced by the Defarges, leaders of the French Revolution, a charge which is made even stronger by Monsieur Defarge’s revelation of a paper document that he found in Dr.Manette’s old prison cell. The document recounts that Manette was imprisoned by the Evremondes by having witnessed the rape of a peasant girl and the murder of her brother. Darnay is then brought back to prison and sentenced to death.
Unknowingly, Carton had also traveled to Paris because of Lucie. When Carton arrives he selflessly sacrifices himself to save Darnay’s life. Carton then forces the help of John Barsad to help him with plan. Shortly after, Carton overhears Madame Defarge, French Revolution leader who is obsessed with getting revenge on the Evremonde family, planning to kill Lucie and her child. Carton also figures out that Madame Defarge is the surviving sister of the peasant girl who was raped and of the boy who was stabbed by the Evremonde family. He then immediately plans for the Manettes to evacuate. After this Carton uses his influence with Barsad, a worker as a turnkey, to get into Darnay’s cell. Carton drugs Darnay, switches clothes with him, and then has Barsad carry him out to safety. Meanwhile, Madame Defarge knocks on the Manettes door expecting to see Lucie but gets Miss Pross. Madame Defarge snoops around looking for Lucie but Miss Pross will not let her go into any rooms. Not shortly after Miss Pross and Madame Defarge get into a fight. Defarge pulls out her gun meaning to shoot Miss Pross, but Miss Pross accidently aims it towards Defarges head and kills her. Back in London, Darnay returns back to the Manettes happily while Carton is walking up to the guillotine about to die in Darnay’s place happy, with the knowledge he is doing a good deed.
Sacrifice is a major theme in A Tale Of Two Cities. I Mean think about it. Sacrifice is a major theme personally throughout this entire book. Dr.Manette sacrificed his own freedom in order to preserve his integrity. Charles Darnay sacrificed his family, wealth, and heritage in order to live a life free of guilt. And most of all Sydney Carton sacrificed his own life for the ones he loved. “ It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done it is a far, far better rest that I go than I have ever known”. Throughout all of these situations of sacrifice, Dickens suggests that, while painful in short term, sacrifice will lead you to a future, and happiness.
A Tale Of Two Cities was not my cup of tea at first. Adding on to this, it was hard to interpret, and it did not interest me. However, when I started to uncover how emotional it was, how meaningful it was in so many ways, and the amount of sacrifice compounded into one book made me enjoy A Tale Of Two Cities. Saying this, I would recommend A Tale Of Two Cities to anyone who is interested in British Literature.
Tale of Two Cities about sacrifice
The word sacrifice can be viewed differently based on perspective. The meaning of sacrifice can be either for the good or bad. Sacrificing something by your own will shall make you a better person in your own perspective.
When something is so close to the heart that you can’t just devote your power over someone else’s happiness. In the novel, A Tale of Two Cities, the character named Sydney Carton plays a very heroic role at the end of the novel. His love towards Lucie Manette devotes him to sacrifice his own life for her happiness while changed him as a person and made him do something beyond his values. The particular sacrifice illuminates the character’s values and provides a deeper understanding of the meaning of the work as a whole because the idea evolves around resurrection. The whole meaning of the novel is based on characters being recalled to life. Carton’s values in life were always the same but because of the lack of pursing his life, he never really needed to prioritize anything. Thus, Carton’s values such as his integrity, reliability, and care for Lucie is shown through his sacrifice of his life which resurrected him into a better person.
Sydney Carton’s values of integrity have made him a better person. As described by Dickens, Carton is an alcoholic, has lack of respect towards other and just didn’t care about life in general. At a young age, his parents died and that made him this way. He always had the motto of?…- I don’t care about anyone, so no one cares about me. (Dickens, 87) But, this was Carton before he fell in love with Lucie. Lucie resurrected him in being an honest person from what he was before. The man who said he doesn’t care about the anyone later confessed his love for a girl. As stated, 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! (Dickens, 157). This shows that how Carton knows that he won’t be able to have Lucie in his life but wishes for their happiness and well being. Lucie certainly changed Carton in being a better person which changed him from his old self. Also it states that, I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. This shows that he was not on the same page with Lucie about his love confession but believes that their family will recall him back to life. All in all, this shows that they Carton become a better person by showing his integrity towards Lucie who devoted him in being this way.
Reliability was one of the other values of Sydney Carton. It could mean that he kept his promise and is loyal to it. He did make a promise to Lucie that he went to pursue at the end of the book. This has resurrected him as a better person because he did what he promised. As he stated, Be comforted! he said, I am not worth such feeling, Miss Manette. An hour or two hence, and the low companions and low habits that I scorn but yield to, will render me less worth such tears as those, than any wretch who creeps along the streets. Be comforted! But, within myself, I shall always be, towards you, what I am now, though outwardly I shall be what you have heretofore seen me. The last supplication but one I make to you, is, that you will believe this of me. (Dickens, 152) This means that he has a last request that he wants to make and wants Lucie to believe in him. His promise that he made to Lucie will uplift her life. Based on the text it states that, 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! (Dickens, 153) This proves that he is ready to even give his life away for the ones Lucie cares and loves. His promise indicates the reader that he will sacrifice his life for Lucie’s happiness. While he wants to be remembered that he will also a part of Lucie’s well being in the future. Thus, Carton becomes a better person which shows his reliability because he kept up with the promise that he made to Lucie.
Lastly, Sydney Carton showed his care for Lucie by sacrificing his own life for her happiness. As the previous paragraph states about the promise he made which was that he is ready to give up his life for Lucie or any other member that Lucie cares for. Lucie’s husband, Charles Darnay was accused of being a spy and was sentenced to death. But, as Dickens informed the reader that Darnay and Carton looks alike. So, Carton pretends to be Darnay and sacrifices his life for Lucie. As stated, Quickly, but with hands as true to the purpose as his heart was, Carton dressed in the clothes the prisoner has laid aside, combed back his hair, and tied it with the ribbon the prisoner had worn.(Dickens, 350) This shows that he got himself in the form of Darnay which prepared him to sacrifice himself for the love of his life. In addition, his statement that he stated before dying was that It is far, far better thing I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. (Dickens, 372) This shows that he sacrificed his life for the person whom he loved. Lucie’s love towards Darnay made Carton sacrifice his life for her because he said that he would give away his life for the ones that Lucie cared about. Overall, Carton’s care towards Lucie’s happiness led him to give away his life and which made him a better person because he was resurrected into Lucie’s life again, as a better person.
Conversely, Carton showed his honesty, he kept up with his promise and his care and love towards Lucie devoted him to sacrifice his life for her. He kept up with his values in life and Lucie helped him to be a better person. He showed a great progression from a person he used to be to who he is now remembered as. It is truly what matters that someone believes as their values in life and it’s also the good deed that carries your further. Not only has he been recalled to life after his sacrifice but also recalled to life as being an honest person, showed great reliability and most important love and care which emphasized his values in life.