A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities Analysis
“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—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only...”
Charles Dickens’ book, A Tale of Two Cities, started with these words. When you first start reading this book, you will be impressed by these words. It influences you. Just like you feel connected to a song you do not even know the language to. But when you finish the book and close the cardboard cover, you see a sadness in your eyes, looking towards nothing... These words are a summary to the book. These words are a summary to a pain in an era: Before the French Revolution and during the French Revolution.
Dickens wrote ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ to publish in a literature magazine called “All Year Around” in 1859. It was published in thirty one weeks in total. This precious work, that was made into a book later on, sold over two million copies.
A Tale of Two Cities Short Summary
Charles Dickens discussed society problems, as he did with all of his works. Before French Revolution, big issues was told through the eyes of small people: The people are in starvation and poverty. The line between the aristocrats and the people is deepened more and more by the aristocrats; with the taxes applied to the public by the aristocrats, the demonstrations of overwhelming power, the tortures, the execution verdicts which were lacking justice, and the judicial reasons. Even now the people have given up the reasons for the proceedings and have come to the point of enjoying the smell of blood coming from the court like a blood thirst crow. And ultimately, the society is tired of poverty and hardship…
The novel discusses the seven-eight people’s lives, before French Revolution and during French Revolution, also sheds light to the details which was not told in the history books. And when we look back, we can see that those seven-eight people were an example of the classes which created society in that era.
Mr. Marki is a blood-drinking aristocrat who compares society to little rats that need to be crushed, he is ruthless, sees human emotions as simplicity, even considers a kid who got stuck in his carriage as a harm to his carriage, and also does not feel ashamed to say it. He was killed as a sign of revolution.
Charles Darney is Mr. Marki’s niece and is not like him at all. He has ethical values and cares for humans. As an aristocrat, he preferred to live in London, helping people and with his dignity instead of stepping on people’s toes. Though he was executed by the people who were blinded with anger and revenge with revolution, because he was a member of Marki family.
Dr. Alexandre Manette and his daughter Lucia Manette: Before, Dr. Manette was a very respected and successful doctor, he was imprisoned for eighteen years without a hearing, because of an aristocrat. His time in prison damaged him psychologically. Ms. Manette was seen as a beautiful, kind-hearted, tolerant woman and her love for her dad was mentioned in the novel. She lived a wealthy life. She met Mr. Darney, when she was returning from France to get her father from her friends (the Defarge’s), and married him before revolution.
Jarvis Lorry: He is a businessman, working for a British bank. Mr. Lorry is a friend of Manette’s and he has ethical values, gentle attitude, and is an example to cautious conversations and also is a loyal friend.
Mr. and Ms. Defarge; Ms. Defarge is a sole survivor of her family because cruelty of aristocrats, and has repressed all of her pain with revenge and anger. She knitted with the ambition of the day she would avenge all the aristocrats of her period. Defarge’s are pioneers of revolution. Their experiences made them extremely cold hearted people. Revolution came with “Peace, freedom and equality” screams and Defarge’s are the representation of it. The sentence “Oppressor will be oppressed.”, is a summary of Defarge’s.
Ms. Pross; She is a maid of Lucia. In the novel, through Ms. Pross, loyalty and devotion of maids and the people they serve to of this era was narrated well.
Sydney Carton; For me he is the most important character of “A Tale of Two Cities” novel. Tired of his family's ruthlessness, Mr. Darnay, on his way to England, provided by an agent appointed by her uncle Marki, he had been tried as a traitor by the British courts. By his lawyer Sydney Carton, came up with a brilliant defense, the agents evidence was debunked. After this incident, a friendship was born between Manette’s and Mr. Darney. Mr. Carton fell in love with Lucia. After finding out that Lucia will marry Mr. Darney, he backs off nobly. He remained as a friend of Lucia. He is now a lawyer who does not harm anyone, who is bored of life, purposeless, who drinks constantly to make his life more bearable, who thinks himself as worthless, does not make much effort to seek value, experiences self-suffering every day, thinking about his past and looking at his present situation, to cruelly criticize himself. Through the end of the book, to save Mr. Darney from execution, with his deep infatuation to Lucia, he made a brilliant plan. Thereby, thinking that he would see much greater value than was given to him, he sacrificed his life to save Mr. Darney.
As Charles Dickens says in A Tale of Two Cities, “...so hatred and bloodlust were the inevitable echoes of the footsteps.”
For those who are tired of reading history from history books, to understand an era’s pain and to start reading what hurt an era, and also to understand an era by living throughly, A Tale of Two Cities is a very valuable masterpiece.