A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Question: Discuss “A Tale of Two Cities” as a historical novel.
Introduction: Historical novel refers to a kind of novel which is designed to take historic allusion. “A Tale of Two Cities” (1859) is an immense creation of the famous Victorian novelists Charles Dickens (1812-1870). A historical novel posed some traits by which we can trace this novel whether it is a historical novel or not.
Historical background: For the background of Dickens’s novel, he has chosen historic subject matter. In his novel “A Tale of Two Cities” he has been derived the theme from French Revolution. Charles Dickens has used a historical background in his own way. The setting of the novel is also revolved around historical importance. The novel has started the early revolutionary period in 1775 and shown the causes of the French revolution. So the first traits are traced in the novel “A Tale of Two Cities”.
The historical theme of the French Revolution: The main theme of the novel has been discussed in the novel French Revolution. If we evaluate the history of France, we can get a clear conception of the French Revolution. The history of the French Revolution has been extracted from the history of France. From this narrating point of view, it is proved that “A Tale of Two Cities” is a historical novel.
Fall of Bastille: In the novel, we got a number of shreds of evidence of the fall of Bastille. This is a historic phenomenon during French Revolution in 1789 that lasted till 1799. In the novel, we see that the poor are oppressed brutally by the aristocracy. If anyone is raised their voice against the Monarchy of France were imprisoned in the Bastille. So, the revolutionary is attacked Bastille and released them who imprisoned in Bastille on 14 July 1789. The storming is led by Mr. Defarge and his wife Madame Defarge. They have killed the governor of Bastille and beheaded seven guards.
“Remained immovable close to him through the streets, as Defarge and the rest bore him along; remained immovable close to him when she was got near his destination and began to be struck at from behind; remained immovable close to him when the long gathering rain of stabs and blows feel heavy”
The conception of the Guillotine: The guillotine is a historical instrument that is used for beheading the people who are condemned to death. The machine is named after the Joseph Guillotine was a physician who seemed that it would be the painless method of executing the condemned person. Dickens has used this allusion to illustrate the speed of the revolutionary. The revolutionaries sentenced to death the French aristocracy by this machine. Another important aspect of this novel is the dance of the revolutionary named after Carmagnole. When Charles Darnay is the victim of the brutality of the revolutionary. Darnay has arrested by the revolutionary in 1780. He was saved by Sydney the supreme sacrificing character in the history of English literature. So, it can be said that “A Tale of Two Cities” bears the testimony of a historical novel.
“No fight could have been half so terrible as this dance. It was so emphatically a fallen sport- a something, once innocent, delivered over to all devilry—a healthy pastime changes into a means of angering the blood”.
Use of myth from the historical perspective: “A Tale of Two Cities” here Dickens has used some mythical characters from the historical point of views such as the Gorgon’s Head and The Landstone. According to the classical myth, the gorgons are the three sisters who have snakes for hair and turn anyone who looked at them to stone. They are the symbol of cruelty, fate, and death. In the novel “A Tale of Two Cities” Dickens has used this myth to describe the chateau of the Evremondes. Another mythical term is the Landstone. It refers to the rock that magnetically pull the ships so that they would crash. The novelist used this term in the case of Darnay’s imprisonment.
Conclusion: To conclude it can be concluded that Dickens has been used the historical background to teach the reader that people should take a lesson from history. Dickens’s novel A Tale of Two Cities has filled up the historical elements so undoubtedly it is a historical novel.
Question: Discuss Dickens’ attitude towards the French Revolution in “A Tale of Two Cities”.
Introduction: French Revolution (1789) is a remarkable and notable phenomenon in the history of France. “A Tale of Two Cities (1859)” composed by the Victorian novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870) is an important document by which the author has been expressed his attitude towards the French Revolution. He has vehemently upheld his own ideas about the French Revolution in the following way.
Background of the novel: Dickens has been used the French Revolution as the background of his novel. In his literary work “ A Tale of Two Cities” he has visualized three sections of the novel such as in 1775 before the revolution and the exact time of the French Revolution in 1789 and the post-revolutionary period. Dickens has represented a self-less love story by which he has upheld a historical background to provide a lesson that Revolution means destruction, destruction of the social and political circumference of any country. Because by the French Revolution not only the upper-class people but also the lower-class people have been destructed. This novel has been designed with a complex plot so the reader has to discover the cause of the French Revolution.
“It was the best of times and it was the worst of times;
It was the age of wisdom and it was the age of foolishness;”
So, we can terminate at the end of the above discussion Dickens has used the French Revolution as the background of his novel to throw a hidden massage not be revolutionary.
Causes of the French Revolution: In any country, Revolution brought about some specific reasons. The novel “A Tale of Two Cities” conveyed the real factors of which have helped to bring the French Revolution.
- excessive taxation: In 1775, France used to practice Monarchy by the king Luis xvi. So, it is noticeable that people were paid a high rate of tax for buying any product. It is pathetic that the people who are not able to manage their meal but they would be paid the taxes. It can be one of the reasons of French Revolution.
- Abject Poverty: A great part of the French people are suffered from the abject poverty. The Marquis are the French Royal class people they are maintained the ruling class people. The Marquis imposed a heavy tax on the poor villagers. They are not capable of buying their necessary food because all money used to send the Marquis. Thus, the villagers gradually became poor from poorer.
- Appalling starvation: By this governmental policy of Monarchy the rich people became richer and the poor became poorer. They do not get their meal. There are many people who are spent their days without food. The common people are the sufferer of such situation. The death scene of the boy by the Marquis is beard the meaning of this situation.
- Rampant crime: Rampant crime stands for the practice of willing crime. In the novel we notice that the Monseigneur are practiced such crime. The peasant family is a great example of their rampant crime. The common people are the puppet of the Monseigneur. If anyone is raised his voiced against them, he was punished bitterly.
- Ruthless punishment: To give punishment is turned into a habit of the Marquis. In the novel the reader has witnessed ruthless punishment and cruelty of Marquis. The common people are tried to endure the unlimited crime so they are bound to be revolutionary.
- Aristocratic greed: Monseigneur was the member of Aristocracy. Monseigneur is the representation of the aristocracy. They want more and more power and wealth. The poor people are spent their life in starvation on the other hand the aristocracy built up a castle of wealth.
“It was impossible for Monseigneur to dispense with one of these attendants on the chocolate and hold his high place under the admiring heavens”
By portraying the causes of revolution Dickens wants to say that before the revolution we should solve the problem by which revolution will not happen. We know that “Prevention is better than cure”.
Negative attitude to Revolution: In the novel, the author shows his negative attitude because he believed that Revolution means destruction. Destruction is not expected in any civilized country.
The futility of Revolution: The motto of the French Revolution was liberty, equality, and fraternity. But after the revolution, we saw that the motto was not preserved by the revolutionary. So, it is clear that the revolution was futile.
Conclusion: In the light of the above discussion we may say that Dickens’s attitude is true. His novel “A Tale of Two Cities” is a suggestive one to Queen Victoria to solve the causes of revolution that existed in then England.
Question: Discuss the underlying themes of the novel “A Tale of the Two Cities”.
Introduction: Theme stands for the central idea of any literary work. The novel “A Tale of Two Cities” has been designed by a group of the central idea by which Dickens has mentioned the futility and meaninglessness of revolution. The themes of the novel have been discussed below in the following way.
Resurrection: In the novel, Dickens has been shown the resurrection as a major theme through some characters such as Dr. Manette, Sydney Carton, Charles Darnay, Jerry Cruncher are examples of the resurrection of character. Dr. Manette is resurrected physically and mentally. After the release from his imprisonment after eighteen years. Mr. Lorry’s message “Recalled to life “refers to the new start of life to swipe away from his past life. After a deep love and affection of Lucie, Dr. Manette has restored his life as a physician. The novel “A Tale of Two Cities” discussed a supreme resurrection by the character of Sydney Carton. His noble sacrifice of life for Lucie and humanity is really praiseworthy.
“I would embrace any sacrifice for you and those dear to you”
Sydney Carton is the embodiment of the resurrection of humanity. He is one of the sacrificing characters in the history of English literature. Sydney Carton has sacrificed his life to save Darnay’s life and gives a final warning to all the oppressors of humanity.
“Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms. Sow the same seed of rapacious license and oppression over again, and it will surely yield the same fruits according to its kind”.
Class struggle: Class struggle or class distinction is the predominant theme of the novel. Here, the author has been represented beautifully the struggle between the aristocracy and the common people. In “A Tale of Two Cities” two cities refer to the two cities Paris and London and describe the political and social upheaval of Paris and which is ongoing in the city of London. If we minutely evaluate the motto of the French Revolution to ensure Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity it is proved that the entire Paris has observed the fire of domination, inequality. In Monarchy there is no room for the common oppression and brutality had been turned into the daily phenomenon of the aristocracy to the common people during French Revolution. To ensure liberty, equality, and fraternity French revolution had occurred but Dickens has shown that the futility of revolution in his novel. So, it can be said that class distinction is the prominent theme of the novel “A Tale of Two Cities”.
“It was impossible for Monseigneur to dispense with one of these attendants on the chocolate and hold his high place under the admiring Heavens”.
Fate: Fate is another important theme of the novel “A Tale of Two Cities”. Fate is absolutely is a divine object but in the novel, Dickens has used the theme to understand the certainty of human beings. The theme of fate is reflected in the novel through the character of Charles Darnay and Dr. Manette. For the supremacy of their divine fate, they are recalled to life.
Family: Family is played a vital role in the life of every human being. In the novel, the author has mentioned the function of family and by getting family Dr. Manette has recovered his life. So the theme of the family had been pervaded in the novel.
Reversals and Inversion: There is a proverb that “Money makes money” By the theme of reversals and inversion the same thing has been reflected. The aristocracy has sown the seed of oppression and brutality in 1789 during the French revolution they took the test of the same fruits. In the section, we can say that evil returns evil.
Conclusion: The novel has great thematic validity. Excluding above mention theme in the novel, Dickens has represented some sub-theme such as the futility of revolution, duality, and so on to show the destructive point of revolution.
Question: Examine the theme of resurrection as depicted in “A Tale of Two Cities”.
Introduction: The term resurrection stands for the action or fact of resurrecting or being resurrected. The novel “A Tale of Two Cities” (1859) composed by the well-known novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870) in the Victorian era has exhibited the major theme of Resurrection through a self-less love story. He has been glorified the theme of resurrection from various points of view which are discussed below step by step.
The resurrection of character: Dickens is a great master of the art of characterization. In the novel, he has been shown the major theme of resurrection through some characters such as Dr. Manette, Sydney Carton, Charles Darnay, Jerry Cruncher are examples of the resurrection of character. Dr. Manette is resurrected physically and mentally. After the release from his imprisonment after eighteen years. Mr. Lorry’s message “Recalled to life “refers to the new start of life to swipe away from his past life. After a deep love and affection of Lucie, Dr. Manette has restored his life as a physician.
Another resurrection happens in that time when he knows that Charles Darnay is the French Royal blood people despite Darnay’s royalty Dr. Manette has agreed to marry Lucie and Charles Darnay. It was a great mental resurrection for Dr. Manette. In the novel “A Tale of Two Cities” discussed a supreme resurrection by the character of Sydney Carton. His noble sacrifice of life for Lucie and humanity is really praiseworthy.
“I would embrace any sacrifice for you and those dear to you”
Another minor but important resurrected character is Jerry Cruncher. In the initial part of the novel, we see that Jerry stole the dead bodies and sold them to the scientists but to see the brutality of the revolutionary he realized the cruelty of revolution and rectified himself Thus he is resurrected and be witnessed the violence and evil of Revolution.
The resurrection of humanity: Sydney Carton is the embodiment of the resurrection of humanity. He is one of the sacrificing characters in the history of English literature. Sydney Carton has sacrificed his life to save Darnay’s life and gives a final warning to all the oppressors of humanity. By the execution of Sydney, the novelist has shown the horror and meaningless of the revolution. The aristocracy has sown the seed of violence and oppression and the cruelty of revolutionary is the fruits of their seed. Everybody knows a proverb that, “Money makes money, following this proverb we can say that evil returns evil. According to Dickens, we may say that like Jesus Christ Carton has resurrected himself for his love and humanity.
“Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms. Sow the same seed of rapacious license and oppression over again, and it will surely yield the same fruits according to its kind”.
Spiritual resurrection: Being spiritually resurrected Carton has decided to sacrifice his life. After the execution of Sydney, he is alive for his sacrifice in the mind of Lucie and all humanity. He is a Christ-like figure, Christ was crucified to save humanity. Thus, the novel has witnessed another sacrifice for the sake of love and humanity.
“It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done;
It is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known”
Social and political resurrection: “A Tale of Two Cities” is asserted a dream of healthy social and political wind of French. Sydney seemed that after someday French will recover its horror and oppression this time is not far away. Thus, France will be resurrected through love and sacrifice, not through the Revolution. Sydney’s last vision was a sound social and political France.
The resurrection of France: A Tale of Two Cities refers to the two cities of England and France. At the end of the novel, Dickens has displayed the resurrection of France. It is possible by vanishing all the evil and horror that would build up a future France through love and sacrifice. The following lines are the fine examples of resurrected France.
“I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and in their struggles to be truly faced, in their triumphs and defeats through long years to come,”
Conclusion: From the light of the above discussion, it must be said that the novel A Tale of Two Cities is replete with the theme of resurrection. By the theme of resurrection, Dickens has asserted the futility of revolution.
Question: How does Dickens co-relate love and war in his A Tale of Two Cities?
Introduction: The Tale of Two Cities (1859) is a remarkable work by the Victorian novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870). It is a historical novel set against the background of the French Revolution. The novelist emphasizes multiple social issues. These are the class struggle, the resurgence, the family, the light, and the darkness, especially the emphasis on love and war. Through the horrors of the revolutionaries, he has highlighted a strong connection between love and war.
Critical views on co-related love and war: According to the critics, love means not the only attraction to something or someone but also sacrifice and responsibility, war means not only destruction or annihilation but also rebirth and regeneration. In this novel, Dickens presents the relationship between love and war in a fantastic way.
Love is a source of psychological war: Sydney Carton is the embodiment of psychological war. He is one of the sacrificing characters in the history of English literature. Being the failure to build up a love affair with Lucie, he feels discomfort in his mind that increases psychological conflict in his inner mind. He thinks that he can never improve his current condition. Observing Carton’s condition, Lucie assures him by saying that he has more possibility to improve his own dignity in his life. Lucie adds that she has enough sympathy for Carton but she cannot love him because she likes Charles Darnay as her life partner. Upon hearing this, a psychological battle ensues in his mind and a commitment is made, although he will not find Lucie as his life partner, he will always try to keep her happy and always be ready to make any kind of sacrifice for Lucie. Carton declares;
I would embrace any sacrifices for you and for those dear to you
Love, the source of revenge: Marquis Evremonde is a bloodthirsty, cruel, immoral person who has no sympathy for the poor. He kills Gaspard’s run-over child on his way back from the Monseigneur party and throws two gold coins as value of the child. By this cruel act Gaspard became more vindictive and that night he killed Marquis in retaliation for killing his child. And he does it only out of love for his child. So love and war are related to each other.
Result of love and war: Peace and happiness are the fruits of love and sacrifice that are the eternal aspirations of humanity. On the other hand, the people of a country always want good governance instead of the cruel rule. The French Revolution took place with the aim of establishing freedom, equality, and brotherhood among the countrymen. Its ultimate purpose was to establish happiness and peace among the people of the state that’s why Love and war are co-related.
Love and war are symbols of destroyer and preserver: In the novel, Dickens mentions that love is a symbol of resurrection and transformation and war is the symbol of destruction and Termination. He has proved love, as a symbol of resurrection and transformation through some characters like Dr. Manette, Sidney Carton, Charles Darney. Dr. Manette is physically and mentally resuscitated due to the genuine love of his daughter Lucy. Besides, Charles Darney’s life saves due to love and Sidney Carton’s life is destroyed. On the other hand, war destroys a country including countrymen, property, ruling system, etc. But After the war, the resurgence comes in a country. For example, the French Revolution led to the resurgence of France. Thus, love and war are at the same time preserver and destroyer.
Love and war bring self-satisfaction: After knowing Draney’s death order within the next twenty-four hours Carton saves his life doing more struggles with Barsad, at the cost of his life. Before his death, Carton imagined that after his death, Dr. Manatte and Jarvis Larry would live a happy and healthy life, Lucy and Draney would live happily in peace with their child, and they would always remember his name. One day France will be free from all kinds of evils and full of intelligent people. He says-
“I see a beautiful city and brilliant people rising from this abyss…..”
He imagines that his sacrifice and struggle for love will take a place in the hearts of the new generation. And this imagination brings emotional and spiritual satisfaction to the carton. Thus the novelist shows in this novel that love and war are interrelated.
Conclusion: In termination, it is effectively proved that in the novel “A Tale of Two Cities” love and war are co-related. We know that outcome of war not only destroying but also rebirth or reproduction of somebody or something while selfless love brings Self-purification and resurrection. So, both of war and love are interrelated.
Question: How does Dickens glorify selfless love in A Tale of Two Cities?
Introduction: A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is an extraordinary creation of Victorian novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870). It is a historical novel in which the novelist has emphasized multiple social issues which are war, love, revolution, ruling system, sacrifice, ruthlessness especially selfless love. Alexander Manette, Sidney Caron, Charles Darney are the excellent paradigms of selfless love in the novel “A Tale of Two Cities.” Let’s discuss
Selfless love: Selfless love is a love that comes from the depths of the heart without any form of worldly reward.
Glorification of selfless love
The master of fictional writer Charles Dickens has glorified selfless love in an outstanding way that is illustrated here with reference to the novel “A Tale of Two Cities”.
Resurrection by selfless love: In the novel, the resurrection has been shown as a major theme through some characters such as Dr. Manette, Sydney Carton, Charles Darnay, Jerry Cruncher by selfless love. Dr. Manette loses his physical and mental strength due to his long imprisonment. But He is resurrected physically and mentally by the deep love and affection of his daughter Lucie after the release from his imprisonment after eighteen years. At last, he has been able to restart his life as a physician. That is the result of selfless love.
Love for daughter’s happiness: Doctor Alexander Manette is an affectionate father. He can do everything for his daughter’s happiness. Because he was imprisoned in Bastille for eighteen years because of his honesty and for the inhuman attitude of Marquis Evremonde family. In spite of being a physician, Doctor Manette spent his all-time making shoes in Bastille, for which Evremonde family is responsible, even then Doctor Manette allows the marriage between Darney and his daughter. In spite of knowing the real identity of Darney when Dr. Manette comes to know that Lucie likes Charles Darnay as her life partner, he allows the marriage without any objections forgetting his own sorrow. He does it only for his daughter’s happiness. It refers to nothing but the glorification of selfless love.
Selfless sacrifice for love: Sydney Carton, indifferent, and an alcoholic lawyer, is a great paradigm of selfless love in the novel “A Tale of Two Cities”. He falls in love with Lucie but cannot expose it openly. A time comes when he feels boring in his present life and lament for his misused life. He thinks that he can never improve his current condition. Observing Carton’s condition Lucie assures him by saying that he has more possibility to improve his own dignity in the way of life. Lucie also informs, she is unable to love him because she likes Darney as her life partner. Hearing this, Carton promises to Lucie that he is always ready for any kind of sacrifice for Lucie. Carton says-
“I embrace any sacrifices for you and for those dear to you would”
When Lucie’s husband Darney is rearrested in France due to the charge of Ernest Defarge and his revengeful wife. In court, they have been able to prove Charles Darney as an ancestral of cruel Marquis Evremonde. After getting the real identity of Darney, the members of the jury board Condemn him and sentence him to death within the next twenty-four hours. Upon hearing of Darnye’s execution, Carton meets Darney in prison two hours before his execution and forces Darney to change his shoes, hair, and shirt. Afterward, Carton, with the help of Barsad, places a handkerchief soaked in chloroform near Darney’s nose and makes him unconscious. Carton tells Barsad to take unconscious Darney out of prison. Barsad follows his orders. Carton then takes refuge in Darnoy’s cell and he embraces death for the happiness of his beloved. Charles Darney, on the other hand, joins his family. We are really amazed by this selfless love at all.
Mental and spiritual satisfaction
Sacrifice for love brings mental and spiritual satisfaction. When Carton saves Darney’s life from Guillotine, at the cost of his life, before his death, Carton imagines that after his death, Dr. Manatte and Jarvis Laurie would lead a happy and healthy life, Lucie and Darney would live happily in peace with their child, and they would always remember his name. One day France will be free from all kinds of evils and full of intelligent people. He says-
“I see a beautiful city and brilliant people rising from this abyss…..”.
He imagines that his sacrifice for love will take place in the hearts of the new generation. All these fantasies bring his emotional and spiritual satisfaction. Thus the novelist has glorified selfless love in this novel.
Love for the Servant
Charles Darney’s sacrifice for the servant is another example of selfless love. When Gabel wrote a letter to Darney, Darney taking risk of his life went to France to free his servant from prison, and thus his own life falls at risk of death. This is another paradigm of selfless love.
Conclusion: After scanning the whole novel we may conclude that the novelist has vividly glorified selfless love in the novel “A Tale of Two Cities”. Sydney Carton’s Christ-like sacrifice for love and humanity is an utmost paradigm of selfless love.
Question: Sketch the Character of Lucie Manette.
Or, comment on Dickens’s art of characterization with reference to Lucie Manette.
Introduction: A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is a remarkable work by the Victorian novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870). We see two kinds of character, good and bad, in Dickens’ characterization. Lucy Manette plays a unique role in this novel. She is the heroine of the novel. She is a young woman with a light and beautiful figure, with a bunch of golden hair and a pair of blue eyes. He possesses all the good qualities.
Identity of Lucie Manette: Lucie Manette is the loving daughter of Dr. Alexander Manet. She was born in Paris but grew up in London. As the heroine, she married Charles Darnay, the protagonist of the novel. After scanning the whole novel, we see various features of his character. Let’s discuss this;
Loving and beautiful young girl: Lucy Manette is a loving and beautiful young woman. In this novel, when we first see her, she is a young woman under the age of seventeen. Dickens describes Lucy with a light slender physique, golden hair, and a pair of blue eyes. Mr. Stiver, Sidney Carton, and Charles Darney fell in love with Luce at the same time by observing the attractive physical structure. But she likes Darney and marries her as her life partner.
Motivator of selfless love: The motivator for Selfless Love: Dr. Manette has lost his physical and mental strength due to his long eighteen-year imprisonment. But by the deep love and affection of his daughter, he was resurrected and was able to regain strength both physically and mentally. His selfless love for the Father inspires us that love is a neutral medicine for good health.
Empathetic Women: Lucy Manette is a good character in the novel “Tale of Two Cities” who is sympathetic to everyone. She possesses a melted heart with compassion. When Carton laments for his past life and thinks he can never improve his present condition. She shows her sympathy for him and assures him that there is ample potential for him to improve his own dignity in the course of his life. Also, when Charles Darney is arrested for treason in the Old Bailey, her heart softened in compassion. So, she is a sympathetic woman.
Sensitive wife: Lucy is a sensitive wife. When her husband was captured in La Force, she became interested in seeing him. And after learning from her father that if she stood on the street in the afternoon, her husband would be able to see her through the prison window. Lucy goes there every day since then and is able to see him. Also, when Madame Defarge comes to Luce’s house, Lucy asks her to show her sympathy for her husband. All of these events indicate Luce’s sensitivity.
Patient and realistic woman: Lucy Manette is a realistic and patient woman. He never blamed his fate even though he had to spend his early life as an orphan despite not being an orphan. Even after her marriage to Charles Darney, she had to live a painful life because of Madame Defarge and the revolutionaries. But he is never disappointed. The last part of the play is when her husband is sentenced to death by a jury board. Then she tried to keep her husband courageous. He declares;
’’I can bear it, dear Charles, I am supported from above. Don’t suffer for me’’
From the above line, we understand that Lucy is a tolerant and realistic woman.
Conclusion: From the light of the above discussion, we understand that all the characters of Charles Dickens are meaningful, virtuous, loyal, tolerant, and realistic. All of these qualities we see vividly in the character of Lucy Manette. Her selfless love for the Father inspires us to do something for humanity and teaches that love is a natural antidote to good health.