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Tale Of Two Cities Essay, Research Paper

“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 are 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.” This written by Charles Dickens is one of the most famous lines in literature. That timeless line was written to describe the time that the book was written in, but it even ended up to be a line we can use now to describe our own world today.

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 wine shop in Paris is the headquarters for the French revolutionists, mostly because the wine shop owner, Ernest Defarge, and his wife, Madame Defarge, are key leaders and officials of the revolution. There is much Action in the book but it 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.

One of the main characters, Madame Therese Defarge, is a major adversary (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 constantly being put on the stand and wants no part of his own lineage. He is the inactive protagonist and he 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 is a 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 very much 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 shoe for nine days straight.

France’s citizens arm themselves for a revolution and, led by the Defarges, start the revolution by storming 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, by a stab to the back while he was sleeping. 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 shoe. 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 Darnay’s have a son named after him. This dramatic plot revolves around several central themes.

One theme involves revenge. The evil effects of revenge bring out one’s bad side. 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. Sydney Carton made the ultimate sacrifice. 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.


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