“A Tale of Two Cities” By Charles Dickens

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The mainpurpose of this book is to show the contrasts between the peaceful city ofLondon and the city of Paris, tearing itself apart in revolution. This isapparent in the very first line of the book, “It was the best of times, itwas the worst of times….” This is a contrast of the two cities, London,the tranquil home of Mr. Lorry and the Darnays’; and Paris, the center of abloody revolution.

The author shows gentleness in these violent times in thepersons of Dr. and Lucie Mannette, both gentle and peaceful. He alsocharacterizes the evil side of the revolution in the apathetic and depravedMisuser and Mademoiselle Defarge, who go about their business while death cartsroll– as do heads– through the streets of Paris. He does though, depict a rayof light amongst all this evil; the heroic Carton, who gave his life for hisfriend and a woman he knew he would never have.

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The biggest contrast of all, isin the person of Misuser Darnay, the gentle English family man, who is alsorelated to the evil Marquis Evremonde. I personally like stories that usehistorical events as backdrops because it brings these seemingly distant eventscloser to us. This book definitely offers insight into life in the two cities atthe time of the French Revolution.

I think it does an excellent job of depictingjust how completely engulfed some people became in the revolution. It shows howpeople were blinded by the desire for freedom from their former oppressors, somuch so, that they attacked anyone and anything that was even remotely relatedto their past rulers. I think this was effectively done by excellentcharacterization, using each character to depict a different aspect of society,then contrasting them by making them rivals.

I really took away a different viewof that time period. Some of the language he used was definitely outdated, yetprecisely what you would expect for a novel of that time period. I was able tofollow the story fairly well, although there were a few times, in switching backand forth between cities, that I got a little lost Still on the whole I likedthe way the story flowed. Unlike some stories of that time, there wasn’t reallyany profanity or taking of God’s name in vain, which is always good to see.

There are other Dickens books that I have liked more, but I still thought thiswas a very good example of his work. I thought the style was pretty consistentwith other books by Dickens I’ve read. It seems he uses characters to symbolizetraits of people quite often, like Tiny Tim symbolizing innocence in theChristmas Carol to contrast Scrooge’s unkindness. I thought the setting,combined with the title and characterization, provided an in-depth look at thetime period of the French Revolution and the events around it. It starts withthe title, which is appropriate for obvious reasons, those being that the storyshifts between London and Paris quite often.

The description of the settingsreally added to the experience of the time period. The way he described theprison cells, the area around the guillotine, and beautiful house of the Darnays’helped promote the contrasts between the cities, as well as put you right intothe story. As far as suspense goes, there really wasn’t much, so if you’relooking to be kept on the edge of your seat, then I wouldn’t really recommendthis.

However, this book has an fantastically intricate plot, and a pretty goodending. Overall I liked this book a lot and would recommend it to anyone wholikes Dickens and is also interested by the time period surrounding the FrenchRevolution. However, if you’re looking for a cliffhanger full of action, thisisn’t really the book for you.

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“A Tale of Two Cities” By Charles Dickens. (2019, Jan 31). Retrieved from


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