A Tale of Two Cities

In the fictitious novel Tale of Two Cities, the author, Charles
Dickens, lays out a brilliant plot. Charles Dickens was born in
England on February 7, 1812 near the south coast. His family moved to
London when he was ten years old and quickly went into debt. To help
support himself, Charles went to work at a blacking warehouse when he
was twelve. His father was soon imprisoned for debt and shortly
thereafter the rest of the family split apart. Charles continued to
work at the blacking warehouse even after his father inherited some
money and got out of prison. When he was thirteen, Dickens went back
to school for two years. He later learned shorthand and became a
freelance court reporter. He started out as a journalist at the
age of twenty and later wrote his first novel, The Pickwick Papers. He
went on to write many other novels, including Tale of Two Cities in
1859.


Tale of Two Cities takes place in France and England during the
troubled times of the French Revolution. There are travels by the
characters between the countries, but most of the action takes place
in Paris, France. The wineshop in Paris is the hot spot for the French
revolutionists, mostly because the wineshop owner, Ernest Defarge, and
his wife, Madame Defarge, are key leaders and officials of the
revolution. Action in the book is scattered out in many places; such
as the Bastille, Tellson’s Bank, the home of the Manettes, and
largely, the streets of Paris. These places help to introduce many
characters into the plot.

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One of the main characters, Madame Therese Defarge, is a major
antagonist who seeks revenge, being a key revolutionist. She is very
stubborn and unforgiving in her cunning scheme of revenge on the
Evermonde family. Throughout the story, she knits shrouds for the
intended victims of the revolution. Charles Darnay, one of whom Mrs.
Defarge is seeking revenge, is coneztly being put on the ezd and
wants no part of his own lineage. He is a languid protagonist and has
a tendency to get arrested and must be bailed out several times during
the story. Dr. Alexander Manette, a veteran prisoner of the Bastille
and moderate protagonist, cannot escape the memory of being held and
sometimes relapses to cobbling shoes. Dr. Manette is somewhat
redundant as a character in the novel, but plays a very significant
part in the plot. Dr. Manette’s daughter, Lucie Manette, a positive
protagonist, is loved by many and marries Charles Darnay . She is a
quiet, emotional person and a subtle protagonist in the novel. One who
never forgot his love for Lucie, the protagonist Sydney Carton changed
predominately during the course of the novel. Sydney , a look-alike of
Charles Darnay, was introduced as a frustrated, immature alcoholic,
but in the end, made the ultimate sacrifice for a good friend. These
and other characters help to weave an interesting and dramatic plot.


Dr. Manette has just been released from the Bastille, and Lucie,
eager to meet her father whom she thought was dead, goes with Mr.
Jarvis Lorry to bring him back to England. Dr. Manette is in an insane
state from his long prison stay and does nothing but cobble shoes,
although he is finally persuaded to go to England. Several years
later, Lucie, Dr. Manette, and Mr. Lorry are witnesses at the trial of
Charles Darnay. Darnay, earning his living as a tutor, frequently
travels between England and France and is accused of treason in his
home country of France. He is saved from being prosecuted by Sydney
Carton, who a witness confuses for Darnay, thus not making the case
positive. Darnay ended up being acquitted for his presumed crime.
Darnay and Carton both fall in love with Lucie and want to marry her.
Carton, an alcoholic at the time, realizes that a relationship with
Lucie is impossible, but he still tells her that he loves her and
would do anything for her. Darnay and Lucie marry each other on the
premises of the two promises between Dr. Manette and Darnay. Right
after the marriage, while the newlyweds are on their honeymoon, Dr.
Manette has a relapse and cobbles shoes for nine days straight.


France’s citizens arm themselves for a revolution and, led by the
Defarges, start the revolution by raiding the Bastille. Shortly
before the start of the revolution, the Marquis runs over a child in
the streets of Paris. He is assassinated soon after by Gaspard, the
child’s father, who is also a part of the revolution. Three years
later, right in the middle of the revolution, Darnay is called to
France to help Gabelle, an old friend. As soon as he goes down what
seems to be a one-way street to France, he is arrested (in France) for
being an enemy of the state. Dr. Manette, Lucie, and the Darnay’s
daughter go shortly after to Paris to see if they can be of any help
to Charles. When the delayed trial finally takes place, Dr. Manette,
who is in the people’s favor, uses his influence to free Charles. The
same day, Charles is re-arrested on charges set forth by the Defarges
and one other mystery person. The next day, at a trial that had
absolutely no delay, Charles is convicted and sentenced to death.
Because of the despondent situation, Dr. Manette has a relapse and
cobbles shoes. Sydney Carton overhears plot to kill Lucie, her
daughter, and Dr. Manette and has them immediately get ready to leave
the country. Carton, having spy contacts, gets into the prison in
which Darnay is being held, drugs him and switches places with him.
Lucie, Charles, and their daughter successfully leave the country.
Sydney Carton, making the ultimate sacrifice, partly for Lucie, goes
to the guillotine in place of Charles. Just before he dies, Carton has
a vision in which society is greatly improved and the Darnays have a
son named after him. This dramatic plot revolves around several
central themes.


One theme involves revenge. One’s bad side is brought out by the
evil effects of revenge. Madame Defarge is the main subject of this
implicit theme. She turns into a killing machine because she must get
revenge. An example of this is when she finds out Charles Darnay is an
Evermonde and is going to marry Lucie Manette. She knits Darnay’s name
into the death register. Another key theme in the novel has to do with
courage and sacrifice. There were many sacrifices in this novel by
many different characters. The ultimate sacrifice was made by Sydney
Carton. Because of his love for Lucie and his friendship with Darnay,
Carton is the example of one of the most important themes implied in
this book. Carton helps others, and does not think so much of himself.
Right before going to the guillotine, Carton sees a better world, a
world where he gave to others, not thinking
of himself. These themes help outline an interesting story.

A Tale of Two Cities

“Social Criticism in Literature, As Found in George Orwell’s Animal Farm and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.” Many authors receive their inspiration for writing their literature from outside sources. The idea for a story could come from family, personal experiences, history, or even their own creativity. For authors that choose to write a book based on historical events, the inspiration might come from their particular viewpoint on the event that they want to dramatize. George Orwell and Charles Dickens wrote Animal Farm and A Tale of Two Cities, respectively, to express their disillusionment with society and human nature. Animal Farm, written in 1944, is a book that tells the animal fable of a farm in which the farm animals revolt against their human masters. It is an example of social criticism in literature in which Orwell satirized the events in Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution. He anthropomorphises the animals, and alludes each one to a counterpart in Russian history. A Tale of Two Cities also typifies this kind of literature. Besides the central theme of love, is another prevalent theme, that of a revolution gone bad. He shows us that, unfortunately, human nature causes us to be vengeful and, for some of us, overly ambitious. Both these books are similar in that both describe how, even with the best of intentions, our ambitions get the best of us. Both authors also demonstrate that violence and the Machiavellian attitude of “the ends justifying the means” are deplorable. George Orwell wrote Animal Farm, “. . . to discredit the Soviet system by showing its inhumanity and its back-sliding from ideals he valued . . .”(Gardner, 106) Orwell noted that ” there exists in England almost no literature of disillusionment with the Soviet Union.’ Instead, that country is viewed either with ignorant disapproval’ or with uncritical admiration.'”(Gardner, 96) The basic synopsis is this: Old Major, an old boar in Manor Farm, tells the other animals of his dream of “animalism”: ” . . . Only get rid of Man, and the produce of our labour would be our own. Almost overnight we would become rich and free.'” (Orwell, 10) The other animals take this utopian idea to heart, and one day actually do revolt and drive the humans out. Two pigs emerge as leaders: Napoleon and Snowball. They constantly argued, but one day, due to a difference over plans to build a windmill, Napoleon exiled Snowball. Almost immediately, Napoleon established a totalitarian government. Soon, the pigs began to get special favours, until finally, they were indistinguishable from humans to the other animals. Immediately the reader can begin to draw parallels between the book’s characters and the government in 1917-44 Russia. For example, Old Major, who invented the idea of “animalism,” is seen as representing Karl Marx, the creator of communism. Snowball represents Trotsky, a Russian leader after the revolution. He was driven out by Napoleon, who represents Stalin, the most powerful figure in the country. Napoleon then proceeded to remove the freedoms of the animals, and established a dictatorship, under the public veil of “animalism.” Pigs represent the ruling class because of their stereotype: dirty animals with insatiable appetites. Boxer, the overworked, incredibly strong, dumb horse represents the common worker in Russia. The two surrounding farms represent two of the countries on the global stage with Russia at the time, Germany and England. Orwell begins his book by criticizing the capitalists and ruling elite, who are represented in Animal Farm by Mr. Jones, the farmer. He is shown as a negligent drunk, who constantly starved his animals. “His character is already established as self-indulgent and uncaring.” (King, 8) Orwell shows us how, “if only animals became aware of their strength, we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat.”(Gardner, 97) What was established in Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution was not true communism (“animalism”), which Orwell approved of, where the people owned all the factories and land. Rather, “state communism” was established, where a central government owned them. Orwell thought that such a political system, “state communism,” was open to exploitation by its leaders.

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