In the fictitious novel Tale of Two Cities, the author, CharlesDickens, lays out a brilliant plot. Charles Dickens was born inEngland on February 7, 1812 near the south coast.
His family moved toLondon when he was ten years old and quickly went into debt. To helpsupport himself, Charles went to work at a blacking warehouse when hewas twelve. His father was soon imprisoned for debt and shortlythereafter the rest of the family split apart. Charles continued towork at the blacking warehouse even after his father inherited somemoney and got out of prison. When he was thirteen, Dickens went backto school for two years. He later learned shorthand and became afreelance court reporter. He started out as a journalist at theage of twenty and later wrote his first novel, The Pickwick Papers.
Hewent on to write many other novels, including Tale of Two Cities in1859. Tale of Two Cities takes place in France and England during thetroubled times of the French Revolution. There are travels by thecharacters between the countries, but most of the action takes placein Paris, France. The wineshop in Paris is the hot spot for the Frenchrevolutionists, mostly because the wineshop owner, Ernest Defarge, andhis wife, Madame Defarge, are key leaders and officials of therevolution. Action in the book is scattered out in many places; suchas the Bastille, Tellson’s Bank, the home of the Manettes, andlargely, the streets of Paris. These places help to introduce manycharacters into the plot. One of the main characters, Madame Therese Defarge, is a majorantagonist who seeks revenge, being a key revolutionist.
She is verystubborn and unforgiving in her cunning scheme of revenge on theEvermonde family. Throughout the story, she knits shrouds for theintended victims of the revolution. Charles Darnay, one of whom Mrs.Defarge is seeking revenge, is constantly being put on the stand andwants no part of his own lineage. He is a languid protagonist and hasa tendency to get arrested and must be bailed out several times duringthe story.
Dr. Alexander Manette, a veteran prisoner of the Bastilleand moderate protagonist, cannot escape the memory of being held andsometimes relapses to cobbling shoes. Dr. Manette is somewhatredundant as a character in the novel, but plays a very significantpart in the plot.
Dr. Manette’s daughter, Lucie Manette, a positiveprotagonist, is loved by many and marries Charles Darnay . She is aquiet, emotional person and a subtle protagonist in the novel. One whonever forgot his love for Lucie, the protagonist Sydney Carton changedpredominately during the course of the novel.
Sydney , a look-alike ofCharles Darnay, was introduced as a frustrated, immature alcoholic,but in the end, made the ultimate sacrifice for a good friend. Theseand other characters help to weave an interesting and dramatic plot. Dr. Manette has just been released from the Bastille, and Lucie,eager to meet her father whom she thought was dead, goes with Mr.Jarvis Lorry to bring him back to England.
Dr. Manette is in an insanestate from his long prison stay and does nothing but cobble shoes,although he is finally persuaded to go to England. Several yearslater, Lucie, Dr. Manette, and Mr.
Lorry are witnesses at the trial ofCharles Darnay. Darnay, earning his living as a tutor, frequentlytravels between England and France and is accused of treason in hishome country of France. He is saved from being prosecuted by SydneyCarton, who a witness confuses for Darnay, thus not making the casepositive. Darnay ended up being acquitted for his presumed crime.Darnay and Carton both fall in love with Lucie and want to marry her.
Carton, an alcoholic at the time, realizes that a relationship withLucie is impossible, but he still tells her that he loves her andwould do anything for her. Darnay and Lucie marry each other on thepremises of the two promises between Dr. Manette and Darnay.
Rightafter the marriage, while the newlyweds are on their honeymoon, Dr.Manette has a relapse and cobbles shoes for nine days straight. France’s citizens arm themselves for a revolution and, led by theDefarges, start the revolution by raiding the Bastille. Shortlybefore the start of the revolution, the Marquis runs over a child inthe streets of Paris.
He is assassinated soon after by Gaspard, thechild’s father, who is also a part of the revolution. Three yearslater, right in the middle of the revolution, Darnay is called toFrance to help Gabelle, an old friend. As soon as he goes down whatseems to be a one-way street to France, he is arrested (in France) forbeing an enemy of the state. Dr. Manette, Lucie, and the Darnay’sdaughter go shortly after to Paris to see if they can be of any helpto Charles. When the delayed trial finally takes place, Dr.
Manette,who is in the people’s favor, uses his influence to free Charles. Thesame day, Charles is re-arrested on charges set forth by the Defargesand one other mystery person. The next day, at a trial that hadabsolutely no delay, Charles is convicted and sentenced to death.Because of the despondent situation, Dr. Manette has a relapse andcobbles shoes. Sydney Carton overhears plot to kill Lucie, herdaughter, and Dr.
Manette and has them immediately get ready to leavethe country. Carton, having spy contacts, gets into the prison inwhich Darnay is being held, drugs him and switches places with him.Lucie, Charles, and their daughter successfully leave the country.Sydney Carton, making the ultimate sacrifice, partly for Lucie, goesto the guillotine in place of Charles. Just before he dies, Carton hasa vision in which society is greatly improved and the Darnays have ason named after him. This dramatic plot revolves around severalcentral themes. One theme involves revenge. One’s bad side is brought out by theevil effects of revenge.
Madame Defarge is the main subject of thisimplicit theme. She turns into a killing machine because she must getrevenge. An example of this is when she finds out Charles Darnay is anEvermonde and is going to marry Lucie Manette. She knits Darnay’s nameinto the death register. Another key theme in the novel has to do withcourage and sacrifice. There were many sacrifices in this novel bymany different characters. The ultimate sacrifice was made by SydneyCarton.
Because of his love for Lucie and his friendship with Darnay,Carton is the example of one of the most important themes implied inthis book. Carton helps others, and does not think so much of himself.Right before going to the guillotine, Carton sees a better world, aworld where he gave to others, not thinking of himself. These themes help outline an interesting story.