A Tale Of Two Citiestopics Essay Example
A Tale Of Two Citiestopics Essay Example

A Tale Of Two Citiestopics Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 12 (3036 words)
  • Published: September 22, 2017
  • Type: Essay
View Entire Sample
Text preview

Although 'A Tale of Two Cities' has been called boring, dull, and a sleep-aid, it remains one of the most culturally sophisticated novels of modern coursework material that has entertained people for more than 150 years. Some people automatically associate these negative adjectives when they hear mention of Dickens' works, and I agree with them. However, I have personally read 'A Tale of Two Cities' (ATo2Cs) unlike others who may not be as educated. Despite not finding the novel entertaining or exciting, it did provide me with a deeper understanding of the horrors Victorian people faced during the bloody French Revolution. Dickens masterfully portrays the fear, agony, and ever-lasting despair that these people experienced with great detail. The novel has been described as a "loose, baggy monster" due to its massive bulk made up of lots of small parts (plots) sewn


together. Dickens wrote the novel's purpose because he knew a lot about the French Revolution, having been impressed by Carlisle's "History of the French Revolution," including its causes (oppression of the poor by the rich). He saw similar sparks beginning to occur in England, such as the deprivation of voting rights for the working class, violent treatment of the poor, and general smug attitude of the 'better half'.

The Great Exhibition of 1851, a renowned celebration that paid homage to Britain's success as an empire and a manufacturing nation, exemplified the ignorance of affluent Englishmen towards their potential downfall. Charles Dickens aimed to shake the English aristocracy and alert them to the impending collapse of their empire, which evidently succeeded because we would otherwise be searching for Queen Victoria's descendants on the streets today!

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

Although Dickens supported the ideals of the French Revolution such as attaining the right to vote and eliminating excessive taxes, he did not advocate for the violent means used by the French people to achieve these goals by slaughtering thousands of innocent individuals associated with the aristocracy. Charles Darnay, a man who disowned his relation to the cruel, aristocratic Evremond family, is depicted in the story recalling his past life due to Madame Defarge, an enraged citizen who even attempted to murder a nine-year-old girl because she was Darnay's daughter. The author's ambivalent sentiments toward Darnay are reflected in his portrayal, which contains an unusual combination of praise and criticism. All of these themes of recall and chaos are present in this literary work, influenced by Dickens' beliefs regarding the Revolution.

Although I didn't particularly enjoy the book, it sheds light on the violent consequences of seeking revenge and the healing qualities of empathy. One powerful quote from the book refers to Sydney Carton's honorable sacrifice, leading him to rest in a far better state than he had previously known. The theme of resurrection is a focal point in the narrative, especially in relation to Dr. Manette's unjust imprisonment in Bastille's North Tower after condemning the treatment of a child. After a message about his sentence was sent to Paris and then relayed to Tellsons' bank employee Mr. Lorry, it was clear that the novel's main theme was the same as the above quote. Another significant component of this theme is Dr. Manette's redemption.

Manette wrote the document called "Manette" while he was imprisoned in the Bastille for ten years. In it, he explains the

reason for his imprisonment: he discovered a dying child who told him how an aristocrat had mortally wounded him. The child had sought revenge for the mistreatment of himself, a peasant girl, her husband, and their father. The boy died after cursing the Evremond family. Manette boldly expressed his thoughts in a letter to the aristocracy, which they burnt in front of him before taking him to prison. The Evremonde Brothers were likely reminded of Manette's actions and made him pay a hefty price for being responsible and just. In his document, which is presented in court as evidence against Charles Darnay, Manette also cursed all the Evremondes and wished for their complete extermination, including their descendants and relatives.

Within his document, Alexandre Manette declares on the last night of 1767, while enduring unbearable agony during his imprisonment, that he denounces certain individuals and their descendants to be held accountable by the times, Heaven and earth. The utilization of the word 'unbearable' indicates his breakdown due to his inability to withstand solitary confinement, which foreshadows Charles Darnay's suffering. This statement unknowingly condemns his son-in-law, daughter, and granddaughter. Additionally, in the same document, an aristocrat describes a peasant boy as a common dog before killing him. The peasant boy's final words summon the aristocrat and future generations of their family to be held responsible for their actions in due time. The peasant boy marks the aristocrat with a cross as a symbol of this vengeance.

The dying youth remembers the Marquis and the entire French Aristocracy's crimes and atrocities that they must pay for. The descendant of Evremonde should be reminded of his uncle's sinful life, which he

continued to lead. The guillotine, a symbol of recalling a criminal's sins, reminds us of the mistreatment of French peasants. As each aristocrat is unceremoniously slaughtered, we recollect the list of hardships that the peasants endured, including being denied the vote, forced to reap aristocrats' land, flogged to death for stealing a crumb of food, and their women being chosen as pleasure objects. If the 'commoners' object to their poverty, they risk being murdered on the spot or imprisoned in the Bastille until the end of their days- a living graveyard.

Charles reveals to Dr. Manette that he belongs to the Evremonde family on the night before his wedding, which results in the relapse of his mental condition. In response, he reverts to his previous life as a shoemaker. Dickens describes his disheveled appearance, noting that his shirt was unbuttoned at the throat, reminiscent of when he would work on shoes. Furthermore, his worn and tired face has returned. Disturbed by this revelation, Dr. Manette works fervently and restlessly, as if he were constantly being interrupted.

Upon examining his work, Mr Lorry observed it to be an old-fashioned shoe of the previous size and shape. This excerpt embodies Victorian ideals of middle-class morality, hard work, and honesty - qualities that individuals during difficult times could revert to. Dickens employs vivid imagery and heightened emotions, a hallmark of his style. A second purpose in Dickens' inclusion of the Manette story is to illustrate how love can triumph over revenge's destructive force. This theme is exemplified by both a young child and Dr Manette recalling the atrocities committed by the nobles.

Love triumphing over the desire for revenge is

exemplified multiple times in A Tale of Two Cities. One instance occurs shortly after Dr Manette's release from the Bastille. Lucie comforts her estranged father, vowing to always love him and reminding him of their long-lost home. She aims to use her devotion to conquer the hatred, sadness, and desire for revenge that had plagued him for eighteen years. Another example is when Dr Manette relapses into shoemaking for nine days, but is eventually cured by Mr Lorry's steadfast love and companionship. The culmination of the theme occurs at the end of the novel when Madame Defarge attempts to stop Charles Darnay and Lucie from escaping and is foiled by Miss Pross. This symbolizes the ultimate triumph of love over the desire for revenge.

In the chaotic scene, Miss Pross triumphs over Defarge, and in a stroke of misfortune, Madame Defarge accidentally shoots herself. This event highlights the destructive effects of revenge and symbolizes the idea of self-destruction. The novel encourages us to believe that Miss Pross's love for Lucie prevails over Madame Defarge's hatred and desire for vengeance. Dickens makes this concept clear and straightforward through a quote where Miss Pross's vigorous hold on Madame Defarge exemplifies the power of love over hate. "The vigorous tenacity of love, always so much stronger than hate." Despite Madame Defarge's struggles and attacks, Miss Pross holds her tightly as if her life depended on it.

When Dickens asserts that Defarge's struggle was in vain, he projects an air of certainty. This statement exemplifies Dickens' tone during these passages. Additionally, when Dickens describes Miss Pross as having a strength greater than that of a drowning woman, it reveals

the immense amount of adrenaline coursing through her 'built' frame. This adrenalized strength stems from her fear for the safety of Lucie, Charles and their child. Charles Darnay, also known as Charles Evremonde in his aristocratic past, plays a key role in this somber theme. Evremonde's mother instilled in him an awareness of the corruption in the French political system prior to the revolution, leading him to renounce his aristocratic title and start anew in England. It was there that he reconnected with Lucie, whom he had previously encountered while she testified in his trial. When Gabelle, one of the Evremonde family's servants, sent him an urgent message informing him of his imminent execution for serving the Evremondes, things took a dramatic turn.

Within the message, there was a request for surviving Evremondes to come to the servant's defense. Charles, as a responsible individual, traveled to France to offer assistance. Regrettably, his true identity was uncovered, resulting in a trial and a recall of his aristocratic history. During court, Manette confirmed Darnay's reliability. Initially, he was released but shortly after, Madame Defarge presented a previously unknown document that contradicted Manette's testimony.

Darnay's decision to renounce his title and leave for France, despite having a wife and daughter to care for, could be seen as irresponsible. His story is one of reckless behavior, akin to many aristocrats. The death of his uncle, the Marquis, was the tipping point that led Darnay to declare "enough is enough." In their last conversation, Charles confided in the Marquis about feeling trapped in a system that terrified him. He felt responsible yet powerless, driven by his mother's dying wish to do good

but lacking support in his efforts.

Dickens portrays women as a positive influence, capable of inspiring virtue as seen with Lucie and her impact on Sydney Carton. Charles had established himself as a respected teacher in England and was planning to ask Dr. Manette for permission to marry his daughter. Although he intended to disclose his privileged past, Dr. Manette silenced him. Nonetheless, the revelation was still a shock to the doctor when he eventually learned the truth. Charles returned to Paris after a conversation with Mr. Stryver, a corpulent and indolent lawyer who exploited the talents of Sydney Carton.

Tellson's Bank received a plea from Gabelle, a servant, with the address seen by Stryver. Stryver has a dislike for the Marquis, who is the intended recipient of the letter, due to his support of democracy, which he deems as a pestilent and blasphemous code of deviltry. Stryver describes the Marquis as someone who abandoned his property to the lowest of society, who murdered on a large scale. Clearly, the conservative lawyer's words reveal his animosity towards anything that poses a threat to the firm class system.

This remark from Stryver provoked a response from Darnay and he made a promise to travel to Paris and rescue Gabelle. A more sensible person may have disregarded the insult, however, Darnay had already demonstrated his irresponsibility by leaving his family behind to pursue his only available course of action in life. After being arrested again, Darnay faced trial where Madame Defarge reminded him of his past as an aristocrat, identified in the book as Charles Evremonde, also known as Darnay. He was granted his release yesterday.

Yesterday, Charles Evremonde, also

known as Darnay, was accused and taken into custody. He was given the indictment last night and is considered an enemy of the Republic, an aristocrat from a family of tyrants who belong to a proscribed race. This is due to their use of abolished privileges to oppress the people in an infamous manner. As a result of this proscription, Charles Evremonde is completely exempt from the law.

In his document, Manette pronounced Darnay a denounced individual which came as a great shock to him. This caused him to reflect on his past life in France. Despite being stoic, Darnay accepted his role as a necessary victim to atone for the crimes of his family. However, he failed to realize that his wife, daughter, and husband would also be considered tainted members of the Evremond family and would face the threat of the guillotine. It is only Sydney Carton who understands the urgency of the situation. In the story, we see a third character portrayed as a jackal to Mr. Stryver, a lawyer.

Stryver, known as Sydney Carton, finds himself being reminded of his forgotten potential due to the striking resemblance between himself and Darnay. This prompts Carton to compare his dreary existence as a scavenger for the deceitful Stryver with Darnay's admirable life. Despite his intelligence, Carton has lost himself in alcohol and the demoralizing influence of Stryver. His story does not involve being literally "recalled to life," but instead needing to awaken the intellectual abilities he possesses but have been hidden away. However, an example of Carton's immoral behavior is shown when he contemptuously flings his glass over his shoulder while harassing a woman

who came to serve him during a quiet drink with Darnay.

Despite not thanking for the drink and not apologizing for breaking Mr. Darnay's property, Charles displayed his generosity by not responding to Carton's behavior. Eventually, Carton saved Charles in a court case on the same day. However, Carton's story is a sad one as he claims to be unloved and also loves no one but speaks so carelessly that it leads us to believe that he genuinely has no emotions. He proclaims himself as a disappointed drudge who cares for no man on Earth, and likewise, no one cares for him. This statement carries great weight as Carton sounds like a man suffering from depression.

Darnay acknowledges that Carton is not utilizing his talents and could be more successful if he had more confidence. Lucie echoes similar sentiments, but with a different tone than Carton.

Although Carton initially rejects her advice, the woman lovingly tries to steer him towards virtuous living. Despite this, he promises to support anyone dear to her. This illustrates that there is significant goodness underlying his seemingly dissolute exterior. The following day, Carton arrives late and Mr Stryver compels him to begin work immediately. The lion reclines on a sofa on one side of the drinking-table while the jackal sits at his own paper-strewn table, with bottles and glasses at the ready.

Mr Stryver, known as the 'lion', earns both reputation and money without putting in any effort, while Carton, referred to as the 'jackal', receives meager pay and is left to subsist on Stryver's scraps. The story of Carton exemplifies the likeness between him and Dickens - both possessing exceptional intellect despite

working for low compensation. (It should be noted that Dickens himself worked as a struggling journalist before transitioning into a successful editor and novelist.)

Despite his prior nihilism and lack of purpose, Carton's life was transformed upon meeting Lucie. He unexpectedly fell in love and experienced a sense of care that he had never known before. This revelation led him to make a selfless decision in sacrificing his life for his rival and Lucie's husband, Charles Darnay. Carton's ability to let go of grudges and act as a role model for Madame Defarge makes him my favorite character in the book. His iconic words, "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is to a far, far better rest that I go, than I have ever known," remain memorable to all who read them.

Showing his poetic prowess, Dickens delivers powerful words in a short speech when referencing Carton's sacrifice. As a tribute to this act, Lucie will name her second child, a son, after him, symbolically recalling Sydney Carton to life through the child's career. The essay explores this theme of "recalled to life" using the stories of Alexandre Manette, Charles Darnay, and Sydney Carton.

The text discusses the recall of three men: one from a living tomb, one from a past aristocratic life, and one due to wasted talents. It explores the idea that love can overcome revenge and destroy evil, focusing on Defarge and Miss Pross' struggle, as well as Lucie's efforts to heal her father's mental state and Sydney Carton's "wounds". The novel serves multiple purposes, including highlighting the danger of rebellion if the rich become

oppressors and warning the poor not to become what they hate. Additionally, it contains autobiographical elements through Sydney Carton's story, reflecting Dickens' own difficult past. Dickens may have also hoped to promote his magazine and earn money through this work.

Aside from his philosophical intentions, he sought to demonstrate that love triumphs over hatred and Heaven triumphs over Hell. Moreover, it promotes the Victorian working-class ideals of perseverance in labor, which promotes the notion that work is an option that should always be available to people in their most challenging moments.

The novel contains numerous interwoven sub-plots, some of which are pertinent (e.g. the tales of the three mentioned characters), while others, like Jerry Cruncher's grave-robbing story, are not. Cruncher fears that any of the corpses he dug up may be 'recalled to life' and come back to haunt him, as in the case of the supposed dead Mr. Barsad. Although Cruncher's story may have played a role in the end, when they discover a coffin filled with stones, possibly because the man inside was 'recalled to life.' Although dated, Dickens' writing is superb and his books were likely enjoyable in their time, and while the themes are centuries-old, they remain relevant. While some may find it tedious, the novel provides a large window into London's and Paris' violent pasts.

Get an explanation on any task
Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds