A Tale of Two Cities

The main purpose of this book is to show the contrasts between the peaceful city of London and the city of Paris, tearing itself apart in revolution. This is apparent in the very first line of the book, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….” This is a contrast of the two cities, London, the tranquil home of Mr. Lorry and the Darnays’; and Paris, the center of a bloody revolution.
The author shows gentleness in these violent times in the persons of Dr. and Lucie Mannette, both gentle and peaceful. He also characterizes the evil side of the revolution in the apathetic and depraved Misuser and Mademoiselle Defarge, who go about their business while death carts roll– as do heads– through the streets of Paris. He does though, depict a ray of light amongst all this evil; the heroic Carton, who gave his life for his friend and a woman he knew he would never have.

The biggest contrast of all, is in the person of Misuser Darnay, the gentle English family man, who is also related to the evil Marquis Evremonde. I
personally like stories that use historical events as backdrops because it brings these seemingly distant events closer to us. This book definitely offers insight into life in the two cities at the time of the French Revolution. I think it does an excellent job of depicting just how totally involved some people became in the revolution.
It shows how people were blinded by the desire for freedom from their
former oppressors, so much so, that they attacked anyone and anything that was
even remotely related to their past rulers. I think this was effectively done by
excellent characterization, using each character to depict a different aspect of
society, then contrasting them by making them rivals. I really took away a
different view of that time period.
Some of the language Dickens used was definitely outdated. The language
was exactly what you would expect for a novel of that time period. I was able to
follow the story pretty well, although there were a few times, in switching back
and forth between cities, that I got a little lost.
Still on the whole I liked the way the story flowed. Unlike some stories of that time, there wasn’t really any profanity or , which is always good to see. There are other Dickens books that I have liked more, but I still thought this was a very good example of his work. I thought the style was pretty consistent with other books by Dickens I’ve read.
It seems he uses characters to symbolize traits of people quite often, like Tiny Tim symbolizing innocence in the Christmas Carol to contrast Scrooge’s
unkindness. I thought the setting, combined with the title and characterization,
provided an in-depth look at the time period of the French Revolution and the
events around it. It starts with the title, which is appropriate for obvious reasons, those being that the story shifts between London and Paris quite often. The description of the settings really added to the experience of the time period. The way he described the prison cells, the area around the guillotine, and beautiful house of the Darnays’ helped promote the contrasts between the cities, as well as put you right into the story.
As far as suspense goes, there really wasn’t much, so if you’re looking to be kept on the edge of your seat, then I wouldn’t really recommend this. However, this book has an fantastically intricate plot, and a pretty good ending. Overall I liked this book a lot and would recommend it to anyone who likes Dickens and is also interested by the time period surrounding the French Revolution.

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A Tale of Two Cities Essay

Two Cities
Jarvis Lorry, an employee of Tellson’s Bank, was sent to find Dr. Manette, an unjustly
imprisoned physician, in Paris and bring him back to England. Lucie, Manette’s daughter
who thought that he was dead, accompanied Mr. Lorry. Upon arriving at Defarge’s wine
shop in Paris, they found Mr. Manette in a dreadful state and took him back to London
with them. Mr. Manette could not rember why he had been imprisoned, or when he was imprisoned. He was in a state of Post Tramatic Stress Dis-order. All the years of imporisonment led to his insanity, his life was in danger almost every second of his imprisoned life. In 1780, five years later, Lucie, Mr. Lorry and Dr. Manette were called to
testify against Charles Darnay, a tutor who made constant trips between France and
England and was thus accused of treason. During these times both governments were very paranoid about anybody who had the aperence of commiting treason. Darney, since he travled back and forth between countries was a perfect suspect for treason. The French Government had just been overthrown by the beggars, and middle class and now run by them, the British on the other hand was still a monarchy and had awful factories and many slums, like France did.Darnay was acquitted when a lawyer, Carton,
looked much like him and an eye witness faltered to positively distinguish between them.

Carton loved Lucie but he was a drunk. Knowing that their relationship was hopeless,
he stated that he would sacrifice himself for her or anyone she loved in an emotional
conversation. Darnay ended up marrying Lucie. Darnay’s uncle, the Marquiuis St.

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Evremonde, was assassinated by the father of a child he ran over and Darnay inherited
his Chateau. Darnay would not take it because he did not want to exploit the French
people as his uncle did. In 1792, while the French Revolution was in full swing, Darnay
decided to go to France to save a family servant, Gabelle. Upon his arrival, he was
immediately jailed. Lucie and Dr. Manette soon showed up in Paris at the doorstep of
Tellson’s French office, where Lorry already was present. Dr. Manette managed to get
Darnay released after a year, yet he was re-jailed the same day by Madame Defarge because
his family, the Evremondes, had previously killed off her family. Darnay was tried the
next day and sentenced to death. Manette went back into his demented state with hopelessness.

Carton arrived in Paris and heard a plot by Defarge to also kill Lucie and Dr. Manette.

Quickly, he made his way into the prison with the help of spies and, with his close
resemblance, switched places with Darnay. Carton had arranged for the escape of Lucie,
Darnay, and Dr. Manette. Madame Defarge had been killed by Miss Pross, a sort of stereotype
nanny to Lucie, and escaped with Lucie. Carton sacrificed his life for Lucie, her father,
and Darnay at the guillotine and thus died in triumph.

Dickens attempted to show his readers the power and dangers of a revolution. He
had a clear underlying theme that oppression and exploitation by an aristocracy will cause
a revolt by those being exploited, a fact that made the French Revolution inevitable.

Throughout this book, it was visible that Dickens drew a connection between oppression and
anarchy. Yet the power of love and sacrifice were, in the end, linked with a resurrection
of society.

Dickens purpose in writing this work was clearly and thoroughly carried out. The
harsh treatment of the aristocracy towards the poor was constantly shown. In one case, the
Marquis St. Evremonde ran over a peasant child and merely through a few coins at the father
to compensate for this loss. The anarchy of the revolution was shown by the numerous mobs
that roamed the streets of Paris. Many nobles had left France and there was no powerful
government. Thus a direct connection was drawn between the oppression by the aristocracy
and the outbreak of revolution turning quickly into anarchy.

Dickens was biased with a sympathy for the victimized, especially for children.

The idea that the victimized, when extorted for long enough, would revolt was a central
idea behind this novel. The unjust imprisonment of Dr. Manette tore him apart. He could
never truly escape from his prison experience and in moments of great stress reverted to the
insanity which Mr. Lorry and Lucie had found upon him at Defarge’s. Darnay had been tried
often and came close to conviction a number of times all due to the past actions of his
family. He was a mere victim of the past. Dickens clearly showed strong support for Darnay
and Dr. Manette not only in the outcome, where they successfully escaped France, but also
throughout the story. When the peasant child was run over by Marquis St. Evremonde, Dickens
showed a great deal of contempt for Evremonde, when he merely offered a few coins as his
remorse, and created a sense that this was a terrible act. I have learned a great deal about
life during the early French Revolution and viewed the anarchy with much internal depth while
reading this novel. Members of the upper aristocracy were, in general, more conceited that I
had previously thought them to be. Men like Monseigneur, a member of the ruling oligarchy,
simply sat around most of the day finding ways to entertain themselves and caring little, if
at all, for the welfare of France, nonetheless for anyone other than themselves. The numerous
mobs were more volatile then I had expected. They roamed, destroying at random, and went on
to a new task with little persuasion. Many mobs cheered in joy for Darnay when he was
acquitted at his first trial in France but were just as excited when he was condemned to
death the second time. Society in general during the French Revolution has become much clearer
to me.

I found this novel to be extremely well written. It was originally a little difficult
to understand until I became involved with the characters. At that point I had no problem
following the plot, which actually became quite swift. The French Revolution was brilliantly
displayed in all of its violence and anarchy. The underlying ideas of oppression and anarchy
made it enjoyable to see how the characters interacted. I found Carton especially intriguing.

He knew that Lucie would never court him, before and after her marriage to Darnay, yet he
devoted his life to her and gave it up in the end for her. Despite all of the depressing aspects
of the novel, Dickens’ theme of resurrection became much more visible towards the end and
actually was quite inspiring. As Carton gave his life for Darnay and Lucie, his final vision
of a better society left me with a hopeful attitude and seemed to be an extraordinary way to
close.

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