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.
Evidential Themes in a Tale of Two Cities
A Tale of Two Cities Theme Analysis
Charles Dickens’s work A Tale of Two Cities portrays ideas of redemption and sacrifice, in order to provide the reader with hope and an awareness of the possibility of renewal and restoration. The book focuses on the relationships between a father and a daughter, a group of men, and a man and his wife. Each of these help to exemplify the feeling of rebirth, as some of these relationships were restored. The mentioning of spilled wine near the beginning of the book further emphasizes the theme as it often represents the blood of Christ. Finally, near the end of the story, the author alludes to a scripture in the Bible, specifically one that describes the belief of Christ’s resurrection and His assurance of eternal life to His followers. In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens outlines an overwhelming sense of restoration, and even resurrection, through a number of literary aspects, such as vivid imagery, meaningful point of view, and significant allusions, in an effort to show the reader concepts of hope and revival.
In the fifth chapter of the first book, it is revealed that the Defarge’s wine shop had an accident where a cask of wine was dropped and broken. The spilled wine attracted people who began to sip it off the ground. This “spilling of wine” creates a mental image of the crucifixion of Christ, as his blood is represented in communion as wine. The idea of Christ’s sacrifice is developed as the people who came to drink it were stated as being, “…all living creatures…” (page 32). Just as all living creatures were affected by the sacrifice. Another allegorical image Dickens incorporates in the work is “the golden thread.” In the fourth chapter of the second book, Lucie is described as being a “golden thread” and having blonde hair. These elements work to exemplify an idea of almost fairytale-like or magical power, since Lucie was able to emotionally revive her father, as well as her relationship with him. This is proven in the beginning of the chapter, as it states, “Only his daughter had the power of charming this black brooding from his mind. She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and to a Present beyond his misery…” (page 84).
Point of view was a significant literary device Dickens utilized. The story is set in third-person omniscient point of view. This aspect of the work adds to the symbolic illustrations of Jesus Christ, as it allows the reader to view every character’s thoughts and actions, like an all-knowing and omnipresent being. An article by David Boyles supports this idea. “Because of its all-knowing nature and detachment from the action, the omniscient third-person narrator is sometimes called the ‘voice of God’ because the narrator appears to be looking down on the action from above with total knowledge.” (Point of View in A Tale of Two Cities).
At the end of the book, as Sydney Carton is being led to the guillotine in place of Charles Darnay, Dickens references John 11:25 from the Bible, which states, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die…’” (New International Version). This allusion helps to communicate the message of resurrection. The second most prominent allusion made in the work is the reference to the French Revolution. This mentioning of a revolution aids to the feeling of transformation. An article by Kiran-Raw supports this claim of reformation. “It may be argued that Sydney Carton’s silent prophecy about the future on his way to the guillotine compensates for the negative image of revolutionary Paris and France in the novel. ‘I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss,’ (357; bk. 3, ch. 15) thinks Carton to himself.” (The French Revolution in the Popular Imagination: A Tale of Two Cities).
Conclusively, it can be said that the book A Tale of Two Cities is truly a motivational and inspiring piece, as it communicates an underlying sense of redemption and hope. All throughout the work, the author implemented figurative images of Christ and togetherness, in an attempt to indicate a message of revival. The author also set the story in third-person omniscient―again giving the book a “God-like” atmosphere. Finally, Dickens alludes to “a golden thread”―which Lucie is described as―relating to a fairytale-like unity. Dicken’s work, A Tale of Two Cities, conveys an evidential theme of redemption, restoration, and hope, through deep allusions, emphatic imagery, and allegorical point of view, to evoke thoughts of hope and renewal, while also showing that unity and togetherness helps to attain said concepts. The author’s inspirational and insightful message is unmistakably why this book is such an appreciable read.
A Tale of Two Cities: a Book That is Worth to Read
A Tale of Two Cities
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is an immortal story about politics and status. Many have heard of this book, but many run and hide from the notion of actually reading it. From a distance, the task seems rather daunting, but after further inspection, we can see that A Tale of Two Cities is actually a very exciting, well written book. Dickens uses many tools to capture the readers attention. He often pokes fun at his characters, uses beautiful description, and even tells us of the time period.
Right from the beginning, Dickens sheds light on the humorous qualities of his otherwise serious characters. When we first hear of the business man, Mr. Lorry, the old man is expecting company. He flattens down his wig, but that “was most unnecessary, for nothing could be flatter than its shining surface was before,” (27). Dickens also seems to dislike another man’s hair, saying that it was “like the top of a strongly spiked wall than a head of hair, that the best of players at leap-frog might declined him, as the most dangerous man in the world to go over.”(17). Later on we read about Jerry and Jerry Cruncher. Like father, like son, they walk down the street “with two heads as near to one another as the two eyes of each were, bore a considerable resemblance to monkeys.”(60). Although most of the humor is directed toward physical appearances, Dickens also mocks some of the strange habits of people. One of them describing Monseigneur’s extravagant meals: “but, his morning’s chocolate could not so much as get into the throat of Monseigneur, without the aid of four strong men besides the Cook.” (105).
Along with his humorous writing, Dickens is also able to pain pictures in our heads. He talks about a time where wine spilled over “the rough, irregular stones of the street, pointing every way, and designed, one might have thought, expressly to lame all living creatures that approached them.” (31). Dickens also takes time to describe many characters. Often he talks about their expressive foreheads or a man’s “markings in his nose, curved with a sarcasm that looked handsomely diabolic.”(127). Not only does Dickens expertly describe settings and appearances, but also the state in which the people of a certain town live. He describes their situation then and to come as he tells us that “they were at sea, and the ship and crew were in peril of tempest.”(34).
Since A Tale of Two Cities takes place during the years leading up the French Revolution, we readers don’t often understand what that time period was like. Dickens does a wonderful job of illustrating this time for us. In this time, many of the people were in poverty. This meant that some turned to one many vice in particular to forget their troubles: “Those were drinking days, and most men drank hard.”(88). We see those in power start to abuse their power as well. In those times, the thought was “Death was Nature’s remedy for all things, and why not Legislation’s?” (56). The law just assumed that death was the answer to all. After this abuse, however, the people stand up for themselves. Dickens foreshadows to this when he says, “For, the time was to come, when the scarecrows of that region should have watched the lamplighter, in their idleness and hunger, so long, as to conceive the idea of improving on his method, and hauling up men by ropes and pulleys, to flare upon the darkness of their condition.”(34).
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is a classic for good reason. The humorously portrayed characters, descriptions, and the politics of the time are three of the many reasons why A Tale of Two Cities is worth the read.
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.
Assessment of Character Development as Portrayed in Charles Dickens’ Book, a Tale of Two Cities
Growing up a young and rich aristocrat, St. Ignatius of Loyola always coveted the vainglorious prestige of knighthood and courtship. Perverted by ideals of fame, glory, and superficiality, Ignatius spent most of his youth consumed by the sinful vices associated with his privileged upbringing. However, his perception of himself as a dashing, handsome soldier, and hence his wicked lifestyle up to that point, quickly disintegrated along with his leg as a result of a cannonball injury sustained in battle. This affliction, a blessing in disguise, allowed for Ignatius’ eventual spiritual conversion, as he read about the noble and compassionate deeds of Jesus and the Saints and strove to emulate them. With this new sense of direction, Ignatius was able to leave behind his materialistic propensities and progress along the path of asceticism and religious devotion. St. Ignatius’ transformation adheres to the format of the archetypal spiritual transformation, in which one starts off in a state of spiritual darkness, experiences a single event that results in a metanoia or complete shift in one’s thoughts and actions, and then ascends to a state of harmony and bliss. Doctor Manette undergoes a similarly structured metamorphosis in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, his imprisonment precipitating psychological as opposed to spiritual weakness that he then overcomes to experience empowerment and liberation after Darnay’s capture. Doctor Manette’s movement from powerlessness to vitality mirrors the archetypal psychological transformation of coping with a traumatic event.
Doctor Manette begins the novel engulfed by oppression and helplessness, his misery mirroring the dark, infernal initial stage of the archetypal psychological transformation in which one struggles to confront one’s agony. At the beginning of the novel, Dr. Manette’s unjust imprisonment renders him practically lifeless, his mind subjugated to the agonizing horror he experienced. As a result, he lacks the agency necessary to overcome this torment, this impotency evident in his “pitiable and dreadful” voice: “…it was the faintness of solitude and disuse. It was like the last feeble echo of a sound made long and long ago” (1.6.43). The repetition of weakness associated with diction like “faintness,” “feeble,” and “echo” characterizes Manette as an incapacitated individual, a vulnerable shadow of his former self, mirroring the deficiency seen in the apparently hopeless period of post-traumatic stress preceding transformation. His weakness escalating into desensitized remoteness, upon Lucie’s arrival, Doctor Manette exhibits a personality characterized by disorientation and detachment: “He never looked at the figure before him, without first looking down on this side of himself, and then that, as if he had lost the habit of associating place with sound; he never spoke, without first wandering in this manner (1.6.45).” Altogether, these images of confusion and vacant absentmindedness, conveyed by the diction of “wandering,” speak to the isolation and perplexity evident in this period of numbness accompanying feelings of impotency in this stage, as an oppressive force, the psychologically painful memory of his imprisonment, facilitates a disconnect between himself and the world around him. Finally, Doctor Manette, deeply rooted in one of his trauma-inducing episodes, later conveys the sheer antagonistic power of his lasting affliction to Mr. Lorry, explaining, “You have no idea how such an apprehension weighs on the sufferer’s mind, and how difficult- how almost impossible- it is, for him to force himself to utter a word upon the topic that oppresses him,” (2.19.208). Manette, referencing his own current state of uncontrollable pain, provides an image of immersion, his mind sinking under the pressure of this apprehension, the anguish orchestrated by the aristocracy. Furthermore, the detail of futility, of the ostensible impossibility of surmounting or coping with this quieting power, evokes a sense of stagnancy, Manette fixed within a shroud of tyranny that cannot be dispelled despite his most arduous efforts. This image of subjugation and vulnerability parallels the tendency of the human spirit to be manipulated or enslaved by dictatorial evils or vices that oppose psychological growth, a tendency that manifests itself during this initial post-traumatic stage of transformation.
Doctor Manette’s antithetical reversal into a resolute man of distinction after Darnay’s incarceration corresponds with the later stages of recovery and renewal in this transformation. Manette, a father who cares deeply for his daughter, rises from his torporific suffering after her happiness is jeopardized by Darnay’s potential execution: “For the first time, the Doctor felt, now, that his suffering was his strength and power” (3.4.280). Darnay’s arrest serves as the turning point in Doctor Manette’s psychological transformation, affording him the first real opportunity to re-embrace his fatherly role and support Lucie by utilizing his personal influence as a former prisoner. Therefore, his self-image shifts from one characterized by instability and deprivation to one of “strength” and “power” as he comes to grips with his trauma, this confidence representing the advent of this period of renewal. Manette’s transformation process is heightened with the detail that he becomes “so far exalted by the change, that he took the lead and direction” (3.4.281) among his company against the injustices of the Revolution. The diction “exalted” conveys the upward movement in the developing stage of his transformation, while the mention that he “took the lead and direction” furthers this development by portraying his newfound assertiveness and his liberation from oppression. Later, Manette’s psychological transformation is brought to fulfillment with his facilitation of Darnay’s extrication: “He had accomplished the task he had set himself, his promise was redeemed” (3.6.297). This redemption through physical action, the “[accomplishment]” of Darnay’s release, cements his ascension to the courageous, tenacious persona of the psychologically strengthened. This final assertion of power, “[redeeming]” himself of his previously-displayed weakness and ridding himself of the source of his trauma, provides a complete contrast with the inaction and exploitation of his previous self, bringing his period of transformation to a close and representing this final stage.
The drastic transformation of Doctor Manette from oppressed to empowered not only mirrors the process of the archetypal spiritual transformation but also the movement typical of comedy. The novel beginning in the infernal realm, Manette combats sinister vices like the corrupt, unfeeling French aristocracy, only to overcome these forces and exit the world marked by isolation and wickedness, gradually transitioning into the purgatorial and finally ascending into a paradisal atmosphere of love and grace. Dickens utilizes this theme of transformation, of “recalled to life,” to point to this comedic progression by allowing Manette’s own redemptive process to reflect the journey through these comedic realms. In doing so, I believe that he captures the essence of Revolutionary France and its similar comedic development as aspiring, growing, healing; reclaiming virtue; and emerging from stagnancy. This auspicious progression is ultimately why comedy is such a powerful form of literature; it reaffirms the possibility of encountering hope and virtue in a seemingly hopeless and virtue-less environment or situation in cases like Manette’s and Ignatius’, proving that after every storm the sun will shine again, that after times of turmoil come periods of much-awaited prosperity and peace.
Evaluation of the Topic of Sex Roles as Demonstrated in Charles Dickens’ Book, a Tale of Two Cities
In A Tale of Two Cities, written by Charles Dickens, gender roles are one of the main motifs due to their large presence in two of the main characters, Lucie Manette Madame Defarge. Gender roles back in the French Revolution were used to set examples for men and women, with the men being the protectors and the women being nurturers. However, Dickens challenges these traditional Victorian era rules by breaking them in his characters and their personalities, making gender roles vital to the story.
Lucie Manette is the daughter of Doctor Manette in A Tale of Two Cities. Lucie is a stellar example of a perfect, ideal woman in the Victorian era. Calm, collected, charming, sweet, beautiful, Lucie was “the golden thread” (Dickens 72) that saved her father from his rotting life in prison, and ties the lives of Doctor Manette, Mr. Lorry, Sydney Carton, and Charles Darnay together. In the Victorian era, “domesticity was trumpeted as a female domain” (Abrams), demonstrated by Lucie as she creates an environment in her home where all the men feel comfortable, and her compassion for other people inspire them to be better men. Lucie influences the men because she is Lucie, and not because of her actions. She is also treated as feeble, and like a child such as when Mrs. Pross “softly laid the patient [Lucie] on a sofa, and tended her with great skill and gentleness: calling her ‘my precious!’ and ‘my bird!’” (Dickens 25). Lucie is the representation of “unconditional love and compassion” (Nowbari), and because of this, she represents the ideal woman in the Victorian era.
Although Lucie might be an angel of a woman in the Victorian era, this was most definitely not the case for Madame Defarge. “The wife of Lucifer” (Dickens 350), she is the embodiment of hatred, she is the embodiment of violence, she is the embodiment of bloodthirstiness, she is the embodiment of revenge. Dickens uses Madame Defarge to show readers what would happen when a woman is removed “from a typical, domestic feminine realm [and placed] in[to] the midst of the turbulent Revolution”(Nowbari). She is the main female leader in the storming of the Bastille, and symbolizes the women’s want for freedom by screaming, “We can kill as well as the men when the place is taken!”(Dickens 205). Madame Defarge and Lucie are like polar opposites because while “Lucie creates and nurtures life, Madame Defarge destroys it” (Nowbari). Lucie doesn’t seek revenge, while Madame Defarge’s sole purpose in life is to get revenge on the upper class of France, due to her entire family passing away. Another difference between Lucie and Madame Defarge is that while Lucie is seen at her home many times, Madame Defarge is never home because she’s always knitting away her death list in the wine shop. Finally, while Lucie has a daughter named Little Lucie, Madame Defarge never has any children, meaning that she lacks any maternal affection, which ironically connects her to the aristocrats. Madame Defarge doesn’t have any concern for Lucie or any of the other mothers in France, glaring “coldly as ever” (Dickens 256) at Lucie as she begs for mercy. Madame Defarge, in the context of this time period, is unfeminine and is proof that gender roles aren’t present.
In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens tells the readers what he thinks of gender roles through Lucie and Madame Defarge. Charles Dickens breaks this traditional rule of the Victorian era of women being relegated to kitchen duty and housecleaning while the men do all the work, by making Madame Defarge the true, vicious leader of the violent French Revolution. Gender roles are important in this book due to the amount of focus on Lucie and Madame Defarge, and their impact on the other characters in A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens incorporated gender roles into this book because he wanted the readers to know that stereotypes are unrealistic, and gender roles don’t matter in the real world.
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.