A Tale of Two Cities
During the 17th century France had the monarchy system, this was not a reputable system as many people who were rich or were upper class could take advantage of the poor, lower classes. During the time France was in debt due to the costly war which they had lost and the high spending of the royal family. The higher classes enjoyed special privileges, without having to work hard and also to their delight they did not have to pay taxes, but on the other hand the common people did not have power and freedom in politics. They worked hard and had to pay heavy taxes. They were basically owned by the more upper class people.
The inequality upset many people but they had no power, so they had to do what they were told. Also the lower class people were abused in many ways, they would be killed if they didn’t follow the marquis commands and they were thought of as scum. When Louis XVI finally called the ministers to solve financial difficulties, it was too late. Many people couldn’t afford to buy food and almost half the country’s population was in hunger. The hungry people of Paris, who suffered from bad harvest, burst out their anger by attacking the Bastille prison. They captured the prison after a surprising day; this is supposedly to have sparked the start of the French Revolution. The anger spread to other parts of France and many people began to protest.
Charles Dickens uses a variety of techniques to imply the contrast between the cities, London and Paris. Some of the techniques he uses are oxymoron and irony. Throughout the whole of chapter one he uses oxymoron. “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times”. This technique is used to show the difference at the time for different classes, the upper class and the lower class, and to show how different their lifestyle was.
Also in the first paragraph Dickens uses irony to conceal the true meaning of the paragraph which is describing how things were in London and Paris, “it was the age of wisdom; it was the age of foolishness”. He does this to get the reader interested in the story and build his own image of the two cities. One other technique he uses is hyperbole. “It was the season of light; it was the season of darkness”. He does this to show us how different the lower class and higher class is by using exaggeration.
The Marquis St. Evremend is a rich, selfish and aristocratic man who owns a chateau and acres of land. He is ruthless and doesn’t care about anyone else but himself, he treats people as though he owns them; and treats them as scum. One day the Marquis assaulted one young lady who got badly hurt, to the young lady’s defence her brothers came to protect her, but subsequently the Marquis sent them to their deaths. One doctor called Dr. Manette heard about the young ladies injuries and went to tend to her, unluckily the Marquis heard about this and banished the doctor to the Bastille in solitary confinement.
The doctor who had a wife and a young child, who was not yet born, they escaped the Marquis and went to London. After a few years the wife died and Lucie Manette, the young child became an orphan. After twenty years or so, she learns that her father is alive and had recently escaped from prison. She travelled to France to find her father at the home of Ernest Defarge, a former friend of Dr. Manette. Though her father is on the brink of insanity, she promises to take care for her. The family relocates to London. The doctor begins to recover and he and Lucie become extremely close. Lucie then falls in love with a man called Charles Darnay who is later accused of treason is found not guilty due to the cleverness of the main character Sidney Carton.
One of my first impressions of Sydney Carton is that he is an alcoholic and thinks a matter of life and death is “not enough to justify your interfering with my drinking”. This shows he doesn’t care much for others and takes away his pain and loneliness by drinking, even though he is a very intelligent man he still turns to drinking. I also think he is nihilistic because he says “I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me”. This shows he thinks that the world has no meaning, everything is horrible and also life has no meaning, you are born, you live and you die; that’s it. He also is a lonely man; this is shown when he says “I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me”. This shows no one loves him and he loves no one, it also shows he thinks there is no meaning to love which connects to my other point which is that he is nihilistic.
Carton at first has no sense of love in him, “I hate everyone and everyone hates me” that’s what his attitude towards love is. But as we see in the novel Carton sees Lucie and straight away you can see there is a connection. It’s as if there is a beam of light at the end of his dark and miserable life. He now believes he can love; this shows how the power of love can change someone. Carton then finds himself in a horrible situation; he realizes that Charles Darnay the man he helped to stay out of jail now loves the woman he loves. To add to his woes he finds that Lucie loves Charles. This not only breaks her heart, it makes him feel he “shall never be better” and that “he will sink lower and be worse”.
Later on in the novel Carton realizes there is a meaning to life, and that other people matter. Even though he realizes he will never marry Lucie, he vows to look after her and protect her. Their relationship becomes platonic. The evidence for this is when he quotes “since I knew you I have had ideas of striving afresh” this shows his love for Lucie and how he is willing to change attitude towards others.
On Christmas Eve Carton and Lucie went to the church for the service. Even though Carton is an Atheist he still agrees to go to church. During the service Lucie “light’s a candle for ” Carton. This not only shows Lucie cares for Carton, but shows Carton what he has missed out on, and that people do care for him. During the middle stages of the novel Carton reduces his poor behavior and gains confidence to change for the sake of Lucie. This is when he is “striving to start afresh” and when Lucie thinks “he is capable of good things”. This particular scene shows he wants to change for Lucie and also to receive respect from her family. It also shows us how the true nature of love can change a man.