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

March 15, 2019 by Essay Writer

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”.

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