A Tale of Two Cities is a notable literary work by Charles Dickens. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of A Tale of Two Cities.
Discuss Dickens’ attitude towards the French Revolution in “A Tale of Two Cities.”
The French Revolution (1789) is a remarkable and notable phenomenon in the history of France. “A Tale of Two Cities (1859)”, written by the Victorian novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870). It is an essential document by which the author has depicted his attitude towards the French Revolution. He upheld his ideas about the French Revolution in the following way.
Background of the Novel: Dickens uses the French Revolution as the background of his novel. In his literary work “A Tale of Two Cities,” he visualizes three sections, such as in 1775 before the Revolution, the exact time of the French Revolution in 1789, and the post-revolutionary period. Dickens has portrayed a selfless love story by which he has upheld a historical background to provide a lesson that Revolution means destruction, destruction of any country’s social and political circumference. Because by the French Revolution, not only the upper-class people but also the lower-class people were destructed. This novel has been designed with a complex plot so that 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;”
Dickens uses the French Revolution as the background of his novel to throw a hidden message not to be revolutionary.
Causes of the French Revolution: Revolution is brought about in any country for specific reasons. In the novel “A Tale of Two Cities”, the reasons for the Revolution brought about in France have been indicated.
Excessive Taxation: In 1775, France practised Monarchy by King Luis XVI. So, it is apparent that people were to pay a high tax rate for buying any product. It is pathetic that the people who cannot manage their meals must pay such a high rate of taxes. It can be one of the reasons for the French Revolution.
Abject Poverty: A significant part of the French people suffered from abject poverty. The Marquis were the French Royal class people who maintained the ruling class people. The Marquis imposed a heavy tax on the poor villagers. They cannot buy their necessary food because all the money is 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 more prosperous, and the poor became poorer. They do not get their meal. Many people spent their days without food. The ordinary people are the sufferers of such a situation. The death scene of the boy by the Marquis bears the significance of this situation.
Rampant Crime: Rampant crime stands for the practice of willing crime. In the novel, we notice that the Monseigneur practised such a crime. The peasant family is an excellent example of their rampant crime. The ordinary people are the puppets of the Monseigneur. If anyone raised his voice against them, he was punished bitterly.
Cruel Punishment: Punishment became Marquis’ habit. In the novel, the reader witnesses Marquis’s cruel punishment and cruelty to the familiar people. Ordinary people have tried to tolerate the unlimited crimes of the upper class, but when their tolerance runs out, they are forced to become revolutionaries.
Aristocratic Greed: Monseigneur was a member of Aristocracy. Monseigneur is the representation of the Aristocracy. They want more and more power and wealth. The poor people spent their lives 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 the Revolution, Dickens wants to say that before the Revolution, we should solve the problem by which the Revolution will not happen. We know that “Prevention is better than cure.”
Negative Attitude to Revolution: The author shows his negative attitude in the novel because he believes that Revolution means destruction. Destruction is not expected in any civil country.
The Futility of Revolution: The mottos of the French Revolution were liberty, equality, and fraternity. However, after the Revolution, we see that the revolutionaries still need to preserve the mottos. So, it is clear that the Revolution was futile.
In short, Dickens’s attitude towards the French Revolution is genuine and ambivalent. He feels sorry for the poor people in France and England who suffer a lot during the reign of the cruel rulers. He does not like the violence of the French Revolution, where many people were killed. According to Dickens, revolutionaries can change many things and do good things. However, excessive anger and violence don’t bring good results. So, he is not entirely against the Revolution because he thinks Organizational revolutions help to achieve much better things faster.