Dickens A Tale of Two Cities
Dickens A Tale of Two Cities BY Lineset A Tale of Two Cities Quotation system: All the references in question 1: a refer to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens edited by Wordsforth Editions 1999, whereas all the references in Question 1: b refer to British Narrative Prose 1700-1900 by Ebbe Klitg??rd. In this essay I will discuss the two following analytical points from Charles Dickens’, A Tale of Two Cities; 1: Darkness and death versus lightness and life, including a consideration of Madame Defarge versus Lucy Manette. And 2: The novel as representation of a great historical movement, the French Revolution.
The reason for hoosing these two questions is mainly because I believe that Dickens’ use of contrasts, like lightness versus darkness and death versus life, is one of the key factors in representing the French Revolution, but more on these thoughts will follow later in this essay. Thus, the main goal of this essay will be to investigate how Dickens uses doubles and contrasts to present a historical movement. Lastly this essay will include a brief answer to two “points to consider” from Ebbe Klitg??rd, ed. British Narrative prose 1700-1900.
Question 1: a One of the most essential techniques of A Tale of Two Cities is how Dickens applies he use of contrasts. From the beginning of the novel we are confronted with this via the following introduction: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way… ” (Chapter 1, page 3). This quote establishes the importance of contrasts to the narrative. Where we have isdom, we also have foolishness and where we have belief, we also have incredulity. Reading these opening words suggest to the reader to make a very important observation; that there are always two sides to every story, which corresponds perfectly with the title A Tale of Two Cities, which ultimately could be interpreted to mean the same thing. Lightness and Life versus Darkness and Death These themes continue throughout the plot of the novel, very often represented by the characters that we are introduced to.
In the novel we are presented to several characters that embody the lightness qualities; love, compassion and hope. Miss Pross who is Lucy’s governess, an extremely loyal, caring and unselfish woman, is one of these characters. She is solely guided by a desire to do good for her little Lucy, “beneath the surface of her eccentricity, one of those unselfish creatures – found only among women – who will, for pure love and admiration, bind themselves willing slaves… ” (Book 2, Chapter 6, page 80). Everything she does is for the sake of Lucy and not of herself.
In this way she is guided by love, which ultimately is a much stronger force than revenge and hate. This become most clear at the end of the book where he manages to summon all of her strength to save Lucy and her family, by killing Madame Defarge and thus preventing her from exposing their escape from Paris “Miss Pross, with the vigorous tenacity of love, always so much stronger than hate, clasped her tight, and even lifted her from the floor in the struggle that they had” (Book 3, Chapter 14, page 314).
The speakers comment “always so much stronger than hate” also indicates that Dickens values love as a much stronger motivation than hate. Another character who is guided by love for Lucy and her family is Jarvis Lorry, an old and dear friend of Doctor Manette. He is a most faithful servant to the family, so beloved by the family, that in spite of the fact he is not truly a member of the family, he will be remembered by them and missed if he should leave. An observation worth noticing on Lorry’s character is his comment on the nature of Miss Pross.
He makes a remark on this in chapter 6, book 2 on page 81 where he concludes that the most valuable thing in life is the faithful heart; “He knew enough of the world to know that there is nothing better than the faithful service of the heart; so rendered and so free from any mercenary taint, he had such an exalted respect for it.. This tells us, that even though Mr Lorry is a business man in so many aspects of his being, he is at heart, guided by love and devotion. Lastly, the most substantial character who is guided by love is Sydney Carton.
His love for Lucy is so powerful and deep that he is willing to sacrifice his own life for Lucy and her family. Thus, giving the Manette’s a chance for true resurrection and a chance for a new beginning. At the end Carton is the one who recalls them to life. This can be supported by Cartons thought of Jesus’ sacrifice for humankind, which grants them absolution “l am the resurrection and the ife, 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” (Book 3, Chapter 9, page 269).
Eventually it is love that inspires his decision to save them all. The reason for pointing out these characters is to show how Lucy is a key factor in their motivations and actions. Lucy is the purest symbol of lightness and life in the book and is able to provide a touch of hope to a rather grim and gothic story. She inspires people to do better and to want to do better. Even Carton, who seems to be a ost cause, is in the long run recalled to life and finds his purpose.
If Lucy is the light, then Madame Defarge is certainly the incarnation of darkness do to a person, if these traits become the motivating force in all of your actions. When Lucy begs Madame Defarge for help, Lucy tries to evoke compassion when she begs for her husband’s life. Madame Defarge’s response shows very little, if nothing, compassion towards this plea “all our lives, we have seen our sister-women suffer, in themselves and in their children, poverty, nakedness, hunger, thirst, sickness, misery, oppression and neglect of all kinds? “Is it likely that the trouble of one wife and mother would be much to us now? (Book 3, Chapter, 3, page 230). This informs the reader, that this is a woman so consumed by bitterness and anger that she has come to a point where she cannot show compassion towards Lucy and her family. Madame Defarge is the symbol of darkness which represents uncertainty, horror and danger. Her world is portrayed by dark prisons, blood and shadows that follow where she goes. Both Jarvis Lorry and Lucy Manette seem to feel the aura of threat that surrounds Defarge “but that dreadful woman seems to throw a shadow on me nd on all my hopes. “Tut, tut! ” said Mr. Lorry; “what is this despondency in the brave little breast? A shadow indeed! No substance in it, Lucie. ” But the shadow of the manner of these Defarges was dark upon himself” (Book 3, Chapter 3, page 230). Even the title of this chapter is named after Madame Defarge – The Shadow. The novel as representation of a great historical movement As stated earlier in the essay, the opening lines in A Tale of Two Cities suggest to the reader that Dickens’ layout of the French Revolution should be considered from two points of views.
Dickens does not try to take a side in the conflict by siding with the Aristocratic or with the poor peasants. But one does get the impression that he tries to render the story from both perspectives as truthfully as possible. When you read through the novel it is easy to get confused in whom to sympathize with, and ultimately you end up with a very ambivalent attitude towards Dickens’ historical subject, the French Revolution. Everywhere you turn there is hate and corruption.
It is clear that Dickens portray the Aristocracy in a way that inspires a great deal of revolt in the reader. Through Doctor Manette’s experience with the Evremondes and their treatment of their peasants, Dickens provoke a feeling of injustice and thus, it becomes clear for the reader that Dickens deeply sympathizes with the French peasantry and stress their much needed liberation. In spite of this, Dickens steers away from supporting the Revolution.
He shows through his presentation of the French Revolution what happens when you fight cruelty with cruelty, which in the end ruins the whole idea of the revolution and what it should stand for. One ought to think that the peasants leading the revolution, who ave suffered greatly and knows how it feels to be suppressed, would value compassion more than revenge, but instead they continue the violence that they themselves have suffered. Dickens portrayal of Madame Defarge does not inspire pity in the reader, and thus we do not sympathize with her.
Even though she has been treated horribly throughout her life and we learn of her family and their suffering, we do not agree Dickens’ intention to make the person Madame Defarge into a villain, but merely to set an example of what happened to people during the French Revolution, when they were consumed by revenge and hate. I think this is a very beautiful way of representing the revolution, because he lets the reader know how hatred spawns In the end the novel makes an impressive representation of the French Revolution because it tells a story from both sides.
It is often that we hear of the French Revolution along with the cruelty of the Aristocracy and looks at the history from a very one sided perspective. I believe that Dickens offers a different take on it, saying that oppression spawns oppression if it is guided by hate and revenge. What are eventually needed are a resurrection and a new beginning to wipe the slate clean rom years and years of hate.
Question l,b: In this small section of approximately 500 words I will answer the two following questions; question 5 in points to consider from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and question 1 in points to consider, last chapter, from The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Wuthering Heights In chapter nine of Emily Bront?©s remarkable novel Wuthering Heights we are presented to the two characters Catherine and Heathcliff, who have known each other since childhood. In chapter nine and the end, Catherine confesses her true eelings about Heathcliff to Nelly, saying “Nelly, I am Heathcliff’.
These words points to the core of Heathcliff and Catherine’s love. Perhaps, because they have grown up together, they have eventually become so entwined that they are the same person. This means that their love goes beyond the physical love or fleeting infatuation. This kind of superficial love is what Catherine is talking about when she says: “My Love Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. ” (page 82). This stands in great contrast to what she feels for Heathcliff, which is much more profound.
She compares this love to the love she feels for Linton by saying, “My Love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary'(page 82). It is clear from her declaration of adoration that although her love for Heathcliff is not as extravagant as her feelings for Linton, they are by far more deep and thoughtful, even though it is of little visible delight. To make Catherine’s love for Heathcliff stand out to the reader, Bronte takes it even further by having Catherine state to Nelly that talking of separation is useless nd impracticable (page 82).
She could have used any other word than impracticable. But this exact word makes it seem like she could have referred to the impracticality of separating the head from the body. It is Just not possible. There is an air of greater to the reader. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Question 1, referring to the last chapter, touches upon Dr. Jekyll’s statement “man is not truly one, but truly two” (Pagel 19) which refers to the duality of man which is the motivating force behind Dr Jekyll’s experiments’.
Dr Jekyll finds himself in a world here man is in constant conflict because men and women of that time should not embody both good and evil, but solely the good and gracious qualities of man. Thus he is driven to conduct experiments to free him from the sickening of the duplicity in his life. In the last chapter Dr Jekyll says, “l learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both” (page 120). Dr Jekyll recognized that as a human he contains both aspects of man.
Later on he continues to state, “… That in the agonized womb of consciousness these polar twins should be continuously struggling. ” (page 120). Here he points to the idea that the good and evil in him is constantly struggling, which ultimately is the driving force in his choosing of trying to separate himself from Mr. Hyde. At the end the clash of dualism in this story gives a great insight into the conflicts of the human mind, where the need for outward respect collides with the inward lust, a lust that is in conflict with the Victorian and religious values at the time. Word count: 2. 423.