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By
Charles Dickens

It is the year 1775, and
England and France are undergoing a period of social violent disturbance and
turmoil. Lucie Manette is a young woman who has been raised as an orphan
and a ward (Il.l._.,.) of Tellson's bank. She learns that her father is alive
and has recently been released from prison after eighteen years of unjust
imprisonment. She travels to the French suburb of Saint Antoine with Mr.
Jarvis Lorry. Mr. Lorry is a longtime Tellson's employee and had managed her
father's affairs before his imprisonment. They find her father at the home of
Ernest Defarge, who has housed the doctor since his release. Though her
father is on the brink of insanity, she solemnly vows that she will recover him.
The family returns to London. After time, the doctor begins to recover and
resumes his practice. Though, he occasionally returns back to his trance-like
state, he slowly returns to himself. Throughout the process, he and Lucie
become extremely close.
After a period of five years, Lucie and her father are called to testify in
the trial of Charles Darnay. Charles Darnay is a French citizen and London
resident and has been accused of treason against England. Lucie reluctantly
gives circumstantial evidence against Darnay. However, Darnay is ultimately
saved when a witness cannot positively indentify Darnay because of his striking
resemblance with Sydney Carton, a lawyer in the court. Darnay is ultimately
freed, and this circumstance draws everyone involved closer together. Darnay,
along with Mr. Lorry, becomes a friend of the family, and Sydney Carton
becomes a regular visitor. Sydney is not welcome one--he is frequently drunk,
often ill humour and vulgar in his manner. Though the others complain of
Carton's manner, one evening he told Lucie that she has awakened feelings in
him. She asks if she can help him, and he says no, but that he wants her to
know that he cares for her deeply. Lucie eventually marries Darnay.
A year passes. Darnay returns to France to attend to the business. He
pays a visit to his uncle. His uncle is a corrupt aristocrat and is so cruel that
when his carriage driver recklessly ran over and killed a peasant's child, he
blamed the peasants for being in the way. Dannays uncle is murdered at his
chateau when he was there.
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Darnay returns to England, and several more years pass. He and Lucie
have a daughter. One day, Mr. Lorry tells to Darnay that he has received a
letter addressed to a Marquis St. Everyone in care of Tellson's. Darnay says
that he knows the man and will deliver the letter. In truth, Darnay is the
Marquis St. Evrmonde, a descendant of the corrupt rulers of France. The letter
is from an old friend who has been put in prison unjustly and who fears that he
will soon be executed. Darnay realizes that he must go.
He leaves for France without telling his wife. He quickly realizes that the
situation is worse than he could have imagined. A Revolution has taken place;
the peasants have overthrown the government and are murdering anyone who
they feel represents the old guard. Darnay is immediately taken into custody,
though he tries desperately to explain that unlike his uncle and father, he is on
the peasants' side and wants to help them. They disregard his testimony, and
none other than Ernest Defarge, who has since become a Revolutionary, sends
Darnay to prison. By this time, Lucie and her father have learned that Darnay
has returned to France, aware that Darnay is probably in grave danger; they
reached France to help him. Mr. Lorry is also present takings care of Tellsons
French office. The Revolutionaries treat Dr. Manette as a hero.
When Darnay is tried for his life in front of a corrupt tribunal Dr.
Manette's testimony saves him. He is freed, but before even one day passes,
he is re-arrested because of Madam Defarge (Ernest's cruel and vengeful wife),
a leading Revolutionist, who wants to finish whole Evremonde family. On the
following day Darnay is tried, convicted and sentenced to death by the tribunal.
Dr. Manette, knows that the situation is hopeless and shattered by the trial,
reverts to his old abnormal state.
By this time, Sydney Carton has arrived in Paris. He learns about Darnays new
trial and impeding execution. He also overhears (l..I _. . ls.) a plot
against the lives of Lucie, her father and her daughter. Acting quickly, he tells
Mr. Lorry to have a carriage prepared an hour before the execution. He reaches
to the prison on the day of Charles' execution with the help of a spy (.l>)
and an informer. But once he gets inside, he uses his physical resemblance to
Darnay. He enters Dannays cell and drugs him. He then exchanges clothing
with him, and the spy smuggles Darnay out of the prison and into a waiting
carriage that also includes Dr. Manette, Lucie, and Mr. Lorry. He tells no one of
his plan, and not even the Manettes know it. They are waiting in their carriage
for Carton, fully expecting that he will join them and that they will leave France
in a hurry. The rest of the family is in danger because of Madame Defarge, who
wants to denounce all of them. The peasant that the Evrmonde brothers
murdered was her brother, and she wants revenge against Darnay and his
entire family. The spy smuggles Charles to the waiting carriage, and the family
escapes France. Carton, however, goes to the guillotine and dies for Lucie,
fulfilling his promise to her that he would die "to keep a life you love beside
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you." Just before he dies, he thinks to himself that his final act is far better
than anything else he has ever done.
Just before he is beheaded, Sydney Carton prophesied for a better society
emerging from the holocaust (.l.,. ,.oIlc) and of his own survival in the
memories of the Darnay family, and he faces death in serenity (l..oL.)
and triumph.
Q 1:
What is the significance of the title of the novel A
Tale of Two Cities?
Answer:
The title, A Tale of Two Cities, is symbolic and significant as the
novel describes the incidents revolving around the two cities-London and Paris-
against the background of the French Revolution. The events in the two cities
are artistically balanced by the writer. The alternate movement between the
two cities highlights the contrast between them.
Before the present title is decided upon, Charles Dickens thought about
various other titles. In the preface to A Tale of Two Cities, he says that the
idea of this novel came while he was acting in Frozen Deep. Various other titles
came to his mind. He thought about, Buried Alive, One of Those Days, The
Thread of Gold, The Doctor of Beauvais, Recalled to Life. But finally he
settled for A Tale of Two Cities. Buried Alive would only have been Dr.
Manetts story. Recalled to Life would also have been appropriate as most of
the characters, Lucie, Charles, Sydney, Jarvis Lorry, Jerry Cruncher and Dr.
Manette, are recalled to life or resurrected (l., i. ,.) in some way or the
other. However, the title A Tale of Two Cities is even more appropriate and
symbolic as it assumes universal significance.
In fact the two cities, London and Paris, are introduced at the beginning
as if they were two characters. London as well as Paris is being administrated
badly. In London, robberies are common, religious intolerance; superstitions,
greed and death are dominant. The priest, military officers, nobility, aristocrats
are all corrupt. Spiritually, socially and politically, there are no moral
standards. People are victims of the divine rights of the nobility and of fate.
The poor and the rich are robbing and being robbed. The hangman ( _..l.V>
V.) too is busy in hanging people for miscellaneous deeds, ranging from
murders to small thefts. Law and order is in a sad state.
Paris is not in a better state. Death lurks (l.lI l) in every nook and
corner as the ruthless aristocrats exploit the masses. The monarchy ( l. _
.o>) is equally corrupt. Economic instability is accompanied by prejudice,
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indiscriminate (a. . .) killing and lack of trials. Corruption and
injustice reigns in churches and courts. The aristocrats are supposed to look
after the tenants ( . lI I ) but they are blind to their needs. Hunger is
written on every face and the flowing wine is symbolic of the bloodshed of the
Revolution. St. Antoine Street is a miniature (,. _>) Paris where hunger
and bloodshed are common features.
The lives of the characters are interwoven by means of the two cities. Dr.
Manette is imprisoned in France for eighteen years, for championing the poor
and truth. Refuge and restoration is only possible in England. Charles
Evrmonde too leaves France, the country of his birth, for England, where he
gets peace of mind.
However, England is no refuge. Though Lucie, her father and Charles live
peacefully in Soho Square, they are compelled by fate to move to Paris, where
violence engulfs them. Neither of the two cities is peaceful heaven. The events
in France engulf the lives of the characters in England. Violence, hatred and the
Revolution spare none, not even England and overrun the life of the people in
England.
The moral corruption is a little better in England. In London, the mock
funeral of Cly can be contrasted with the genuine but violent funeral of Foulon
in Paris. Paris is hub of mob violence, murders and butchery. The old Bailey
Court in London is a place of sensational executions, whereas the courts in
Paris do not give the prisoners any opportunity to be tried. The prisoners are at
the mercy of the aristocrats. While conservative England is not heading
towards any Revolution, France is heading towards the French Revolution.
The cities can be contrasted in the other way too. While the French
characters appear to stand for hatred, the English characters appear to stand
for love. Marquis Evermonde, Madam Defarge, Defarge stand for hatred, Dr.
Manette, Lucie, Jarvis Lorry, Miss Prose and Sydney Carton stand for love.
However, love and hatred are not restrained to any particular city. Defarge, a
Frenchman, is loyal to Dr. Manette; Sydney, an Englishman, moves pessimism
to love, from England to Paris.
Sydney Carton, an Englishman, is redeemed (l.V l>.) in Paris, where he
performs the ultimate sacrifice. Injustice and betrayal (_ ), love and
hatred, honesty and unity constitute a part of both the countries. Ultimately,
love triumph through the process of redemption, irrespective of location.
London and Paris are placed side by side. While book one moves from
Paris to England, book two, continuously moves between the two. While all the
characters and both the cities merge in book three. Dirty streets, hunger and
blood differentiate Paris from the peace and tranquility ( _.ol> l.l ) of
Soho Street in book two.
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To conclude, it can be said that parallelism and contrast between the two
cities link and merge them. The title is highly remindful and symbolic as the
two cities stand for the universe and humanity in general.
Q 2:
Discuss the plot construction in The Tale of Two
Cities by Charles Dickens.
Answer:
The plot of a novel is an integral (.,_oo) part of the story. It should
be logical, credible (l..c _.l), meaningful and full of suspense. Whereas the
story has a beginning, middle and end with a focus on central idea or ideas,
the plot is a logical, causative (>...) and artistic relation between the
beginning, middle and end.
Charles Dickens as a novelist has all types of plots. His later novels have
organic (., _i.) and complex plots which are made interesting due to
humour, suspense and sensational events. In The Tale of Two Cities, he
has artistically interwoven two tales, two cities, history and story, public and
private life and a variety of themes through few selected characters, suspense,
symbolism, parallelism and contrast.
Dual Location:
In A Tale of Two Cities, the story moves simultaneously between
London and Paris. The political and social atmosphere in the two cities is
miserable as hunger and death walk in search of the preys in the two cities.
The scenes in London are more peaceful as compared to Paris, though poverty,
hunger and violence and brutality are present in both cities.
Public and Private lives:
Dickens seems to have interwoven the historical theme with the private
events. This has led to a unity of impression and a fairy tale quality. It is tale of
old wrongs, Dr. Manettes imprisonment, two lovers (Lucie and Charles) who
are caught in the political events of the times. They are victim of unjust chaos
that prevails in France. Ironically, Dr. Manettes letter becomes the cause of his
son-in-laws sufferings. The wrongs done by his ancestors visited Charles in
spite of the fact that he tried to make amends for their sins. However, he is
saved by the sacrifice and death of Sydney Carton who resembles him
physically. Sydney, the wastrel (lo.l), loves Lucie and finds salvation in
sacrificing his life for her.
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Parallelism and Contrast:
The two themes, two places, history and story, the private and public life
of the characters are woven artistically. In spite of the cruelty of and hatred,
love and resurrection (l.>,.>) get triumph. All this is portrayed by means of
parallelism and contrast.
Love and Hatred:
At every stage of the novel, love and hatred are highlighted. Love and
hatred coexist in both of the cities. The brutality of the Revolutionaries is
contrasted with the love and honesty of Dr. Manette and Lucie. The corruption
in London is contrasted with the integrity (.l...) of Mr. Lorry and Miss Prose.
In the novel, we see Ernest Defarge is on the horns of dilemma. At one
level, he is a zealous (i...i...a.o) rebel against aristocracy and at another
he betrays his slightest loyalty that he still sustain (l., ..,.) for Dr. Manette.
Thus hatred and love motivate the characters, irrespective ( L.
,L.) of the city to which they belong. Ultimately, Sydneys love for humanity
triumph over the hatred of the Revolutionaries.
Coincidences:
In the course of the story, many things happen unexpectedly. In spite of
the coincidences there is a witty suspension of disbelief as the readers realize
that it is not a typical love story. Though at times the turn of events seem like
of a fantastic fairy tale, the story is interesting and there is dramatic element
of suspense as to what will happen next.
In fact, at time the coincidences seem superficial. But later events add up
to the climax. It is a coincidence that Sydney and Charles look alike, that
Sydney overhears Madam Defarge making plans to kill Lucie that Sydney is
present in France at the end. Though a lot of events seem unbelievable, they
add a dramatic touch, heighten the suspense and seem acceptable as a part of
life.
Pathos (..I.) and Humour:
Besides coincidences, Dickens makes use of comedy, pathos and humour
to hold our interest. The humour of character is interwoven with the pathos
created by situations. Dr. Manettes release, Lucies resurrection with her
father, the arrest of Charles and his parting (l. i>.Ic) and reunion with Lucie,
Dr. Manettes reaction to the arrest of Charles, Sydneys sacrifice are all full of
pathos and creates the right effect. But, a serious and tragic note is made
lively by comic relief at times.
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Suspense:
The element of suspense is present from the beginning till the end.
Throughout our curiosity is aroused as to who is Dr. Manette? Why has he been
imprisoned? What will happen to him? What did Defarge find in cell 105? There
is suspense at each and every stage as the plot moves forward. However, all
loose threads are tied logically at the end as our curiosity dies out.
Tight Structure:
In fact, no event is really superfluous. Even seemingly superfluous events
like Charles trial at Old Bailey court, Barsads accusation of Charles for treason
(la..ic), Sydneys judging his resemblance to Charles, Sydneys promise
to Lucie that he would do something great for her, Madam Defarges intense
hatred, all add to the plot of the novel. In the end the climax seems believable.
Eventually, all events lead to Sydneys sacrifice and act of love.
The Theme as a Part of The Plot:
The structure of the novel brings out Dickens philosophy of life. The
theme of resurrection and renunciation (l., C,..,...) and the French
Revolution are an integral part of the plot. Sydneys peaceful death stands for
the triumph of love over hatred. Madam Defarges violent death symbolizes the
defeat of hatred and evil. The two themes of resurrection and renunciation are
linked with the Revolution.
Weaknesses:
In spite of tight structure, A Tale of Two Cities has raised a lot of
controversies. While some regard it Dickens best novel, other feel it is not
convincing. Madam Defarges death is considered inconsistent even though
Dickens called it an act of divine justice. Even Sydneys death is regarded as
highly romantic filled with so much sentimentality. However, that is not the
case.
Conclusion:
To conclude, it can be said that characters and situations, two venues,
facts and fictions, symbolism, parallelism, suspense, humour and pathos etc.
have led to the excellent and balanced plot of A Tale of Two Cities.
Q 3:
Discuss Dickens views about Revolution with
reference to the novel A Tale of Two Cities.
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Answer:
The background and the main subject of A Tale of Two Cities is the
French Revolution. Actually, Dickens was inspired by Carlyles book the The
French Revolution, which he read again and again. As a result, Dickens has
mixed private lives with this dramatic and historical event. It is a novel about
historical events and personal tragedy. As it is an expression of Dickens view
about the French Revolution, the private lives of the characters mirror the
Revolution and their lives are mirrored by it.
Conditions in France:
At that time, the social and political conditions in France and England
were horrible. In France, it were even worst, where monarchs (l.l.) believed
in divine rights of kings. The French King, Louis XV, known as the butterfly
king, was uncaring and had a spendthrift (,> ) wife. During this period,
the noblemen enjoyed special rights and were exempted from taxes. As a
result of this, the common people had to pay double taxes. This exploitation of
the masses was seen in all fields of life. The rich even went so far as to
dishonor poor peasant women. The economic differences between the haves
and have-nots obviously dissatisfied the poor and oppressed. The economic
differences and exploitation obviously lead to political revolts and uprising. The
Revolution is an inevitable consequence of this tyranny and exploitation. Many
crimes are committed by the Revolutionaries in the name of liberty and
vengeance.
Though Dickens highlights the social and political events, he is of the
opinion that mass murders and bloodshed are not the answer. The salvation
lies in moral regeneration and not social and political uprising. Though he
stands for the poor and oppressed but does not consider the Revolution as an
ideal solution. In A Tale of Two Cities Dickens describes the exploitation of
the poor by the aristocracy and the subsequent furry of Revolutionaries who
executed similar evil deeds to take revenge.
The cause of the Revolution is stressed all along. The whole novel
highlights the poverty and hunger, the callousness and cruelties of the
noblemen. The aristocracy created such an atmosphere that ultimately bursts
into an explosive Revolution.
Scenes of Violence:
The novel is full of horrible scenes related to the Revolution. Dickens
focus on the mass-butcheries, the injustice, the bloodthirsty mob, the
sharpening of weapons at grindstone, the guillotine ( _I ., I ,.l _ol
_..o), heads bouncing, all are clearly portrayed as monstrous and inhuman.
The violent aspects of the Revolution are further highlighted in the fall of
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Bastille; Defarges cutting of Governors head, the hanging of Foulon and the
burning of the chateau (, .> l l .o .,). In short, the novel is full
of scenes of violence and bloodshed.
A Meaningless Horror:
By focusing on the causes and ugly aspects of the Revolution Dickens
tries to highlight the meaningless horror of the Revolution. It is shown to be
monstrous, inhuman and unjust. The cruel cycle of violence and hatred is
never ending. There is no ending to tyranny and cruelty. Dickens points out
that suffering, oppression and injustice lead to diseased society, uprising,
bloodshed and murders.



Moral Regeneration:
According to Dickens, the Revolution is not the solution of oppression and
suffering. What is required is love and moral regeneration. This is highlighted
through Sydneys sacrifice and prophecy at the end. He says:
I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from the abyss
(_l .,lc) and in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs
and defeats, through long years to come.
Thus, his vision of a brilliant city can come true only through love and
sacrifice from each and every man, rich or poor.
A Lens for Others:
Through this picture of the French Revolution, Dickens seems to be
warning England that poverty and suffering in England can also lead to a
Revolution like the one in France. Dickens, basically a humanitarian, stands for
the poor. He is against Revolution and Revolutionaries as bloodshed and
vengeance are their main motives. Dickens insists on the meaningless horror of
the monstrous Revolution with its crazy Revolutionaries who are no better than
savages and animals. The Revolution is a moral disorder born out of suffering,
oppression and indifference. The Revolutionaries return evil for evil. However,
when aristocrats become victims his sympathies shift towards the victims.
Though, the aristocrats deserve what they get, the fury of the oppressed
replaces one set of oppressors by another. Dickens hatred and fear of violence
makes him a champion of love and hatred.
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Conclusion:
Thus we see that Dickens in not a Revolutionary. Though, he feels that
the Revolution is a natural consequence of social oppression, he is not a
champion of the Revolution. He does not approve the violence, as he feels it is
self-destructive. That is why, Madam Defarge who personifies that hatred and
vengeance of the revolutionaries, loses her life in the final struggle between
the forces of hatred and love. In the ultimate analysis love is the answer to
hatred and violence, oppression and cruelty.
Q 4:
What are the major themes in A Tale of Two
Cities?
Or
Resurrection and renunciation are the major
themes of the novel A Tale of Two Cities.
Answer:
The main themes of A Tale of Two Cities are resurrection and
renunciation. Originally resurrection is taken in religious terms as the
resurrection of Jesus Christ. But here, it is taken in various forms and this main
theme is illustrated again and again as it overshadows the social, political and
love themes in the novel.
Resurrection in Various Forms:
Resurrection is found in various forms through various characters. All
three men in Lucies life are resurrected in some form or other. While her
father is resurrected physically and mentally, Charles is resurrected physically
and Sydney is resurrected spiritually. Besides physical and spiritual
resurrection, various characters in the novel are resurrected in a comic way.
Various characters are recalled to life in some way or other. While Charles and
Dr. Manettes life is restored, Sydney loses his life and is spiritually
resurrected.
Mental Resurrection:
Initially, Dickens had planned to call his novel Buried Alive, as this was
the main idea behind the novel. The novel starts with the release or recall to
life of Dr. Manette who was buried alive for eighteen years in the Bastille. His
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daughter Lucie, who had always thought that he was dead, is shocked to find
that he her father is not dead but had been imprisoned for such a long time.
She promises to bring him back to life. With love and care she resurrects him
to life mentally and intellectually. Every time he faces a problem, he goes back
into his past but is resurrected and emerges mentally stronger.
Physical Resurrection:
Charles Darnay, Marquis Evermondes nephew atones (l., ls) for the
sins of his ancestors and disowns his legacy and country. He comes to England
to lead a decent and simple life. Thus he is resurrected as he atones for the
bloodshed caused by his ancestors. Later on, in England he is accused of being
a spy but at the last minute he escapes the gallows due to his resemblance
with Sydney. This too is a form of resurrection. History is repeated once again
when Charles goes to Franc to help his former servant, Gabelle. There he is
arrested by the revolutionaries and is condemned (l.,.) to death. Though,
he is released by Dr. Manetts efforts but he is rearrested arrested because of a
letter written by the doctor when he had been in prison. This letter is used
against Charles and he is condemned to death. At the last moment, he is saved
by Sydney Carton who dies for him.


Spiritual Resurrection:
Though Charles is resurrected from death, again and again, it is Sydney
who is actually resurrected spiritually. Though an intelligent man, he is a
wastrel (llo.), who is totally demoralized with life. His love for Lucie
inspires him with courage, faith and humanity and he promises to repay the
compassion (_.,.i>>) she has shown to him.
Thus, when Charles is condemned to death, he planes to die for him. He
remembers his fathers funeral, where the priest had said,
I am the Resurrection and the life.
He planes to bring life to Charles and makes a plane for his ultimate
sacrifice. He drugs Charles, exchanges clothes with him and sent him in a
carriage to Lucie, Jarvis Lorry and Dr. Manette. Sydney, thus, becomes Christ
life figure full of love and compassion. Before dying he has a vision of the
entire city and its people rising from chaos and gaining freedom. In fact, he
visualizes the resurrection of the city and the masses. His sacrifice makes him
to achieve ultimate resurrection.
Grotesque (_ . _l>,.a.) Resurrection:
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Roger Cly and Foulon are resurrected in a grotesque way. While Cly fakes
death to escape the anger of his animies, Foulon fakes death to escape the
fury of the revolutionaries as he once told the people to eat grass, when they
were dying with hunger. Thus their resurrection is comical. Miss Pross
brothers resurrection is also comical.
Political Resurrection:
Besides the resurrection of characters, there is social and political
resurrection. The oppressed French masses revolt against their exploiters so
that they can face a better life. Though, they aim for social and political
regeneration, they are so overcome by emotions that they go for violence.
Stability might take time but the resurrection is seen through Sydneys
ultimate vision.
A Warning to England:
Another theme closely related to the resurrection theme is that revolution
can happen anywhere. The cruel and heartless ruling class in France compelled
the people to revolt. Dickens seems to be saying that this can happen in
England too.


A Meaningless Horror:
Another underlying theme is Dickens view that Revolution is monstrous
by its activities. He intends to point out the meaningless horrors of the
Revolution, the bloodshed and butcheries.
Renunciation:
Another theme is renunciation. While Charles renounces his legacy,
Sydney renounces his life. Charles act of renunciation raises him in high
esteem as it is an illustration of his generosity and humanity. Sydneys
renunciation of his life makes him achiever of tragic dignity. He dies for
humanity thus his renunciation is Christ like.
The Theme of Love:
Related to these is the theme of love, which is major theme in the novel.
Lucies love comforts Dr. Manette, Charles, Miss Prose, Jarvis Lorry and
Sydney. Lucies love transforms Sydney into a Christ like figure. While love
regenerates all these characters, hatred degenerate evil characters like Madam
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Defarge. Ultimately, Sydneys act of sacrifice symbolizes the triumph of love
over hatred.
Conclusion:
To sum up, we may say that A Tale of Two Cities have multiple
themes which are interwoven artistically. The various themes are expressed
through a group of private individuals who are swept into the whirlpool of
public event like the Revolution.
Q 5:
A Tale of Two Cities is a historical novel. Discuss.
Or
A Tale of Two Cities is related to a most influential
incident of history, but it is not complete historical book.
Comment.
Answer:
A tale of two cities is a historical novel related to the period before
and all through the French Revolution. Previously, Dickens had written one
historical novel, Barnaby Rudge, which dealt with a period of English history.
When he wrote A Tale of Two Cities he was feeling great interest in
history. However, A Tale of Two Cities is not a complete story of French
Revolution.
As a historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities has obvious limitations. It
does not give a complete picture of either the English or the French political
world of those critical years (1775-1793). In this novel, Dickens describe the
beginning of discontent in France, the rising dissatisfaction of people with the
aristocrats and the turmoil caused by the public fury and the cruelties
committed by the revolutionaries during the years of French Revolution.
Dickens does not describe the progress and culmination of French Revolution.
He gives us brief and scattered account of the main event. But, by this he tries
to convey to us all the horror of the French Revolution. He gives us no
systematic analysis of the causes of the French Revolution. At the same time,
Dickens takes no notice of the leading historical personalities of the French
Revolution, such as Mirabeau, Lafayette, Robespierre and Napoleon. He does
not show the struggle of the government for money in the time of depression,
the difficulties of parliament and philosophical thinking behind the Revolution.
Dickens main concern was to show that extreme injustice leads to violence. In
the first part of the novel, Dickens sympathizes with the poor and
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downtrodden, but in the end these very people become villains and he rejects
them.
Dickens first reference to the cause of the French Revolution comes in the
Chapter called The Wine Shop. Here he uses the symbol of the mill to convey
the grinding poverty through which the people of Saint Antoine are passing.
Then there are three chapters in which the callousness and the arrogance of a
particular noble are described.
Dickens main achievement lies in mixing the personal lives of a group of
private characters with the events of French Revolution. These private
individuals are Dr. Manette, Lucie Manette, Darnay and Carton. Although, the
major characters have no ideological interest in the Revolution yet they are
driven into the main whirlpool of the Revolution and have to suffer. The death
sentence of Charles is the most unjust when we see that he is on the side of
the people. In his humanity, he even gives up the property of his family.
Furthermore, he was in France to save the life of a poor man who was in
danger. The others are drawn into the whirlpool for the sake of Darnay.
Sydneys sacrifice is due to Lucies involvement.
Although. Dickens does not give systematic theory about the Revolution
yet there is his definite view about it. In this respect, he also seems to have
been influenced by Carlyle. Dickens shows that past is the storehouse of moral
lessons and a terrible moral drama. He has a definite aim in writing this novel,
as he wants to show the effect of social order on the lives of the individuals.
The lives of both Dr. Manette and Sydney Carton are example of it. Dr.
Manettes coming back to the steam of life illustrates the course of new order.
Sydneys noble death proves the possibility of rebirth through love. According
to one critic, there is no other piece of fiction in which domestic life of a few
simple private people is in such a manner interwoven with a terrible public
event, so that one seems to be the part of the other.
The fact is that Dickens considers revolution as monster. The scenes of
violence that are described in A Tale of Two Cities are really horrible. The
lesson that Dickens wants to teach us through this novel is that violence leads
to violence and hatred is the result of hatred. He wanted that government
should not allow the people to become frustrated and angry that they are
compelled to revolt and become not only violent, but also ruthlessly violent. If
all the noblemen had behaved like Charles and all the intellectuals had exposed
the social evils like Dr. Manette, then there would not have been any such
violent revolution. Dickens never forgets that the French Revolution was the
result of unspeakable suffering, intolerable oppression and heartless
indifference. Society was diseased before the fever broke out. And this
conclusion about the French Revolution is stated in the final chapter of his
novel as:
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Crush the 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 (,.I, lc) license and oppression again over
again, and it will surely yield the same fruit according to its kind.
Q 6:
Discuss Dickens art of characterization.
Or
Dickens is known as a creator of living characters. Do
you agree?
Answer:
Dickens is one the greatest creators of characters in English fiction. There
is large diversity (,C.l..l..) of characters in his novels. A mere glance on
any of his novels is enough to prove his ability of creating amazing characters.
Dickens tries to create variety of individuals in his novels, but he never tries to
probe (l.lIi.l..l>) deep into them.
A Tale of Two Cities is an evidence of Dickens ability of character
portrayal. Here too the range is fairly wide, though we do not find the study of
inner working of human mind. Some of the characters like Defarge and Madam
Defarge are truly memorable. It is important to note that Dickens purpose was
to allow the character to reveal themselves through incidents and through their
deeds and actions rather than their dialogues. However, Dickens did not fully
succeed in achieving his purpose. Dialogues in this novel also play as much
part in revealing the characters as they did in his earlier novels. In fact, it
would not be wrong to say that dialogues play an even more important part in
characters than incidents.
The characters in A Tale of Two Cities have sharply been
individualized. Each character has his or her own recognition. Each stands out
in our imagination and memory as a separate person clearly differentiated from
others. Dr. Manette is an outstanding personality, despite of his repeated
intervals of insanity. Mr. Lorry, the old bachelor, who has grown gray haired in
the service of Tellsons Bank, is another impressive figure, distinct from
everybody else. Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay though have similar
physical appearance has been sharply differentiated. Lucie represents entirely
different womanhood as compared to Madam Defarge. Never was there greater
and sharper contrast than we find between these two women. Miss prose
belongs to different category altogether. Likewise, Mr. Stryer and Jerry
Cruncher, though both of them are comic characters, have been clearly
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distinguished from each other. Even a minor character like the mender of road
has been made to live before us.
In spite of Dickens aim, the fact remains that the above mentioned
characters revealed much themselves through dialogues and much less than
incidents and action. For example, different traits of Dr. Manettes character
reveal through his conversation with different characters, not through his
actions. In fact, there is hardly any action that he performs. Sometimes, we do
find him busy in shoe making but that is only when he gets a shock and
becomes temporarily insane. When Charles Darnay shows his intentions to
marry his daughter, it is through his dialogue with Charles that we come to
know that he is a loving father and a kindhearted friend. Similarly, it is through
one of his long conversation with Mr. Lorry we come to know why he
sometimes goes back to the state of insanity.
Charles Darnay also reveals the essential traits of his character through
dialogue. Of course, one of his basic traits appears through action also. That
happens when after reading Gabelles letter, he at once goes to Paris to save
him. That shows his deep sympathetic nature and his disregard for personal
danger. But his love for Lucie appears mainly through his dialogues. Darnays
humanitarianism is revealed to us through his dialogues with his uncle. He says
that Evrmonde family has done many wrongs to the poor and that he would
like to atone some of those wrongs and he had decided to give up his entire
claim to the family property and the family title.
In Sydney Cartons case, his action to give life for the sake of the
husband of that woman to whom he loves is of the highest importance. It is
this action, which raises him to the status of the hero. When he is on the point
of death, he looks sublime and prophetic. But all the other traits of Cartons
character appear through dialogues. He has a dialogue with Darnay
immediately after Darnays acquittal by the court at the Old Bailey. In the
course of dialogue, Carton says that he is a disappointed drudge ( l _Ioao
V .,) and he cares for no man on earth and no man on earth cares for him.
When Darnay is gone, Carton looks at the mirror and says that he hates
Darnay even though there is physical resemblance between them. Then there
is a dialogue between Carton and Stryver. From this dialogue we come to know
that Carton is a seesaw kind of man, up one minute and down the next.
To conclude, it can be said that though Dickens aimed to described his
character through their actions and events, but he could not do this properly.
The most of characters in the novel revealed themselves much through the
medium of their dialogues rather than their actions and events.

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Q 7:
Symbolism in A Tale of Two Cities is in abundance.
Is it a justified analysis?
Or
A Tale of Two Cities has symbolic importance.
Elaborate.
Answer:
A tale of Two Cities is full of symbols and symbolic imagery. An
author uses symbolism in order to give wider meanings to his writings. The
symbolic meanings are generally veiled or it may lie at a deeper level than the
surface level. Thus, the use of symbolism gives additional meanings to those
which are apparent on the surface. A Tale of Two Cities is full of symbols.
Symbolism is an essential element in the structure of the novel.
The very opening chapter employs two symbols. These are Woodman
symbolizes fate and the Farmer symbolizes death. Here the Woodman is not
just a worker in the woods, and the Farmer is just not the tiller (l..l) of the
soil. The Woodsman represents or symbolizes Fate, while the Farmer
represents Death. The idea is that these two forces are at work in France to
bring about destruction and bloodshed and to ruin human happiness.
The manner in which the author describes the journey of the mail-coach
in the second chapter has also a symbolic significance. It is an uphill journey
and; the hill, the harness (lol.l .l), the mud and the mail are all so
heavy that the horses have a difficult time of it. There is atmosphere of
suspicion all around. The guards suspect the passengers; the passengers
suspect one another and the guard, they all suspect everybody else and the
coachman is sure of nothing except the horses. This whole scene gives the
picture of violent scenes of the French Revolution.
The Broken Wine Cask outside Defarges shop and passing peasants fight
to lick the spilling wine is symbol of peoples hunger. The hunger is both, for
food and for political freedom. The wine is directly associated with blood, as a
drunken figure writes the word BLOOD on the wall with a wine-dipped finger.
Indeed, the blood of aristocrats, later spills at the hands of a mob in the same
streets.
Madam Defrages knitting is a whole network of symbols. Into her needle
work she stitches the list of names of all those who condemned to die in the
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name of new republic. On the metaphorical level, it is the symbol of cold-
blooded vengeance of revolutionaries.
The Marquis Evrmonde stands as a symbol of the ruthless aristocratic
cruelty on which the French Revolution wants to overcome.
The symbol of mill is also used by Dickens artistically. A mill grinds wheat
into flour which is used by human beings for food. But, here the mill performs
different function. Here, we are told that the people of Saint Antoine had
undergone a terrible grinding and re-grinding in the mill. It is a kind of mill that
grinds the young people old. Later, the furious members of the revolutionary
crowd are described as sharpening their bloody hatchets (.lI), knives,
bayonets (_...) and swords on grindstone. Both the mill and the grindstone
are thus used as the symbol of the destruction, which people in France face.
The Bastille is another important symbol. Hundreds of prisoners have
been languishing ( ,o l. .l.l. ) in the prison for years and years,
neglected, uncared for, almost neglected. The inhabitants of Saint Antoine,
under the leadership of Defarge and Madam Defarge capture Bastille after a
brief assault upon it. They were greatly jubilant this place of authority and
tyranny. The governor is arrested and Madam Defarge cut his head with her
own hands with a knife.
Later in the story, La Guillotine becomes the symbol of cruelties
committed by the revolutionaries. If the Bastille was the symbol of the tyranny
of the government of King Luis and of the aristocratic class of France, La
Guillotine has reversed the process. Now it is the turn of aristocracy and the
nobility to be prosecuted and tyrannized over. La Guillotine is mercilessly
beheading all the eloquent, the powerful, the beautiful and the good. La
Guillotine is thus a symbol of the brutalities and the barbarities committed by
the poor and downtrodden when they come into power. La Guillotine is an ugly
and horrible symbol as Bastille previously was.
Some of the characters are also symbolic. Madam Defarge symbolizes
hatred and evil. She certainly has a motive and a reason for her revengeful and
bloodthirsty attitude, but all her wickedness and bloodthirstiness cannot be
justified. Miss Pros on the other hand is personification of love. Sydney Carton
too serves as a symbolic purpose. His sacrifice symbolizes the way by which
the highest human aspiration and moral regeneration can be achieved.
In short, it can be said that A Tale of Two Cities in one of the best
novels of Dickens where symbols play a significant and thematic role. It is
mastery of great novelist that he has used nominal things for great purpose.