Use of setting in ‘The Tale of Two Cities’

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I chose ‘The Period’ because it sets the scene for the novel, it also compares and contrasts the monarchs of France and England and how they had different legal systems which were equally as arbitrary and ‘lawless’ for instance the young man who had his hands cut off and put to death in France, where as England was being plagued by highway men. The reason why I chose the ‘The Wine shop’ because it shows the desperation of the working classes and Lucy Manette visits her father.Then lastly I chose ‘The monseigneur in town’ because it shows the indifference of the upper classes (Aristocrats) to the plight of the working classes and the Peasants.In the chapter ‘The Period’ it starts off with the very famous quote’It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ which meant good times for the rich people until the revolution and the bad times for the poor people.

Dickens highlights the quality of life which the rich people were having then he compares this with the bad conditions of the working classes and peasants, also the common people were very unfortunate. The skill of the writer is shown by contrasting the words ‘best’ ‘worst’ ‘light’ ‘darkness’ and ‘despair’ to reflect images of good and evil that will happen to the characters and situations throughout the novel.Dickens light heartedly compares the physical appearance of the monarchs of England and France as setting the historical scene and he mentions how the monarchs of both countries neglected their people and did not care about their people’s rights. His skill is further demonstrated by the way Dickens invites and catches the reader’s attention by describing this epoch of time was one many contrasts.

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The author helps the reader to understand what is happening in the novel by the technique Dickens uses to outline the two different and similar problems which both countries were confronting.The writer’s purpose is to write a historical novel with strong moral values concerning the terms of guilt, shame and retribution, Dickens presents the situations of events which will form the lives of the novel’s characters. The writer also puts the events in the novel in the context of the American Revolution and the unfolding events in pre-revolutionary France.Life in the 18th century in France and England was equally prone toarbitrary, summary and rough justice but this was despite the differing legal systems towards crime in each country.

The two countries were also show to be equally lawless, consider the ‘scarcely amount of protection to justify national boasting. Daring burglaries by armed men and highway robberies’ in England. Also the ‘sentence of the youth to have is hands cut off, tongue torn out and body burned alive because he had not kneeled down in the rain to do honour to a dirty procession of monks’. This would suggest that France was more barbaric and harsher than England.

The events in the American Revolution had as Dickens explained ‘strange to relate, have proved more important to human race than any communication yet received’. That there should be no taxation without representation in parliament. Furthermore that the overthrow of the regime was possible. The Americans were ruled once by England, they did not agree with the unfair legal system imposed by the British and the Americans felt that they should govern themselves.

In both countries they were complacent that they would be in charge in fact ‘that things in general were settled for ever’.In the chapter ‘The Wine Shop’ begins with a barrel of wine falls and is broken in the street. The resulting mayhem in the street helps the reader understand how desperate and deprived the working classes were at that time. The author introduces Madame Defarge this assists the reader to understand the physical and mental attributes of this character.

For instance Madame Defarge was a stout woman with a steady face with strong features, and had a watchful eye.Dickens demonstrates his skill as a writer when he sets the novel on a back drop of a ‘hunger (that) rattled its dry bones. It was prevalent every where’. The author uses this to show that famine was one of the driving factors of the forthcoming revolution.

Together with total indifference of the upper classes to the plight of the peasants and more so the working classes. This also shows the reader how life was for the majority of pre-revolutionary French people.Furthermore Dickens shows the shortage of food as immoral and drove the working people to eat all the offal amongst the rubbish thrown in the street. At the end of this chapter Lucy Manette visits her father Dr Manette with the company of Mr Lorry and monsieur Defarge.

Dr Manette had been locked up for eighteen years and called himself 105 north tower, Dickens describes him as white-haired man who was very busy making shoes.In the chapter ‘Monseigneur in Town’, Dickens shows how decadent the marquis and aristocrats were by using the example of the fact that it took four servants to give the marquis his hot chocolate. He was more interestedIn opera and comedy ‘than the needs of all France’. His hedonistic ways had left ‘him growing poor’ because generations had spent a lot of money on ‘great luxury and expense’.

Prior to the accident with the little boy Dickens points out the careless morals of the monseigneur and his class by saying ‘he appeared under the circumstances rather agreeable to him to see the common people dispersed before his horses’. This was again shown when the marquis knocked down the young boy and killed him. Dickens had thus illustrated the marquis’s total indifference. Indeed he did not value the life working classes, the marquis called the working classes dogs and he said ‘ I would ride over any one o f you willingly, and exterminate you from the earth’.

More over Dickens has clearly established the marquis as one of the villains of the plot.The author shows the cruelty of life in 18th century by again pointing out that the populace were hungry. The hunger is a constant theme and helps explain the consequent revolution. Even so they still had pride for instance De Farge throws one the coins back at the Marquis’s in his attempt to appease the masses.The writer’s purpose was to show the reasons for the revolutions for example the constant hunger of the working classes, and Dickens tells the reader how the monseigneur lived and that he did not care for the people who were in the working classes for example the young boy who got killed.

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Use of setting in ‘The Tale of Two Cities’. (2017, Dec 19). Retrieved from

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