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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that is obsolete in society today.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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