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Untitled Essay, Research Paper
By: Renee Frailey Charles Dickens promotes heroism and evil acts in A Tale
of Two Cities like the revolutionists promoted vengeance in France. Dickens
wrote of many actions to choose, but the main performences displayed are
easily recognized in the novel. In this story, good and evil come face to
face many times, and they counter-attack each other in very simple ways.
The first act of heroism to be discussed is the fact that Charles Darnay,
an exile from France, chose to return to Paris to relieve a friend from jail.
Darnay thought this action over, and reluctantly decided to face his fears
of the people in France. He did not have to answer his friend’s plea, but
he did because Dickens chose this character to be one of the perfect characters
that is obsolete in society today. Darnay is unusual because he knew he would
become in danger by going to Paris, but as Dickens said in the second book,
“He sat up late, and wrote two fervent letters; one was to Lucie, explaining
the strong obligation he was under to go to Paris, and showing her, at length,
the reasons that he had, for feeling confident that he could become involved
in no personal danger there,” (p. 241) he went anyway– clearly not for himself.
Another act that Dickens showed in this novel was the occurence of Miss Pross
and Madame Defarge coming face to face. This is the most evident scene of
good and evil colliding. “‘I know that your intentions are evil,’ said Miss
Pross, ‘and you may depend upon it, I’ll hold my own against them.’” (p.
358) This statement clearly showed that Miss Pross’s intentions were good,
and they were only to save Lucie’s life. Although Madame Defarge died by
the struggle, this incident was purely out of love and devotion to someone
dear to Miss Pross. The most heroic act in the novel made its show near the
last of the book. The event of Sydney Carton replacing Charles Darnay with
himself to be beheaded was by far the stupidest thing a person could have
done, but it was also the most intrepid acts of any character in A Tale of
Two Cities. “‘Of all the people upon earth, you least expected to see me?’”
was Carton’s declaration to Darnay when he first showed his face to him in
the prison cell. Of course because Darnay did not think he was likable by
Carton, he was evidently surprised to see that Carton would come to his rescue.
Sydney did not have to do what he did to save Darnay’s life, but he did simply
because he loved a woman Darnay had in his grasp. He knew she would never
be with him, so he gave her the life of Darnay to make her happy. Anyone
that would sacrifice his own life for the love of someone unattainable is
a hero in any book. The first evil action to be discussed is the incident
when the Marquis St. Evrémonde’s carriage rolled over and killed a
small child. The Marquis seemed to have no compassion at all. “Monsieur the
Marquis ran his eyes over them all, as if they had been mere rats come out
of their holes.” (p.116) To many this action would have been considered evil
because a normal person would have at least cried some tears of condolence
toward the death of the child. The next evilness to bring up is Darnay’s
capture in France. The citizens that arrested Charles Darnay did not know
him at all. They knew of his ancestors’ pasts only. They chose to take revenge
upon him because of the actions of his ancestors. Darnay was simply arrested
because he was an aristocrat and an emigrant. “…banishing all emigrants,
and condemning all to death who return…” (p. 248) Most likely the most
evil of the evil conveyed in A Tale of Two Cities was the patient revenge
brewing inside of Madame Defarge. One is reminded of an evil witch by the
actions and words that Madame Defarge displayed. “‘Vengeance and retribution
require a long time; it is a rule.’” (p. 179) This statement made by Madame
Defarge clearly shows that her intentions all along were evil, and her character
was made to be one like a snake: patient, waiting to strike. She caused pain
throughout so many of her victums’ lives by selfishly seeking revenge upon
the aristocrats that caused the death of her family. Heroism and evilness
collide forces to insure that the reader will always be ready for a change
in this novel’s plot. One never knows what will happen because of its twisted
atmosphere and unrealistic pain a character can inflict. If A Tale of Two
Cities had been more realistic, the reader could have known what the end
would have been.
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