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A Tale of Two Cities (1859) Charles Dickens (1812-1870) Dickens' purposes in using 'recalled to life.'

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GENRE: VICTORIAN NOVEL SOCIAL AND HISTORICAL CONTEXT A Tale of Two Cities (1859) CHARLES DICKENS (1812-1870) Dickens' purposes in using 'recalled to life.' It has been described as boring, dull and a sleep-aid. Is this what you think of one of the most culturally sophisticated novels of modern coursework material, and which has entertained people for over one hundred and fifty years? There are those who think of all of these words when someone mentions Dickens' novels, and personally, I agree with them! But, I have actually read 'A Tale of Two Cities' (ATo2Cs), unlike other, less-educated individuals. Although I did not find the novel very entertaining or exciting, it did give me a deeper insight into the horrors Victorian people experienced due to the bloody French Revolution; the fear, the agony and the ever-lasting despair must have been disgusting, and Dickens portrays every detail! It has been described as a 'loose, baggy monster,' in the sense that it has a massive bulk to take in. It is not in one part, but rather lots of small parts (plots) sewn together. Dickens' purpose in writing the novel was due to the fact that, he knew a lot of what occurred in the French revolution, (having been impressed by Carlisle's "History of the French Revolution" including its causes (oppression of the poor by the rich). He saw the same sparks beginning to occur here in England, such as the deprivation of a vote for the working class, the violent treatment of the poor and the general smug attitude of the 'better half'. The Great Exhibition (1851), a famous celebration which took place to honour Britain's pride as an empire and a successful manufacturing nation, was a tremendous example of the ignorance that rich Englishmen lived in as to their possible fate. His plan to shock the English aristocracy and make it wake up to the near fall of its empire worked, obviously, because otherwise we might be hunting the streets for descendants of Queen Victoria today! ...read more.


The fact that we are encouraged to believe this concept shows how blunt the novelist was, he was not subtle in this scene. Here is a quotation which communicates Dickens concept of love conquering hate: Miss Pross, on the instinct of the moment, seized her around the waist in both arms, and held her tight. It was in vain for Madame Defarge to struggle and to strike; Miss Pross, with the vigorous tenacity of love, always so much stronger than hate, clasped her tight, and even lifted her from the floor in the struggle they had. The two hands of Madame Defarge buffeted and tore her face; but, Miss Pross, with her head down, held her round the waist, and clung to her with more than the hold of a drowning woman. When Dickens claims that it was in vain for Defarge to struggle, he seems to be insisting that it is so. He has an over-confident tone in writing that part of the quotation. When Dickens stated that Miss Pross had a strength greater than that of a drowning woman, it shows the enormous amount of adrenaline being used in the 'built' frame of Miss Pross, this strength of adrenaline indicates fear; fear for the safety of Lucie, Charles and their child. The second of the characters playing a role in this morbid theme is Charles Darnay, formerly known as Charles Evremonde, who was born an aristocrat. His mother influenced him to acknowledge the corruption in the French political system prior to the revolution, so Evremonde revoked his aristocratic title and made a new life in England, where he re-encountered Lucie, whom he had already met before as she gave evidence in his previous trial. One day, he received an urgent message from one of the family servants (Gabelle), who was to be put to death for serving the Evremondes. The message was a plea for help from any surviving Evremondes, who were to come and defend him. ...read more.


Dickens' purposes when he wrote the novel, 'A Tale of Two Cities' was to highlight to the British nation the ever-looming danger of rebellion, should the rich become oppressors. He also warned the poor that if they did rebel, they should not allow their anger to turn them into what they hated. His other purposes, apart from promoting his magazine to earn some money, were also autobiographical, as told in the story of Sydney Carton, which tells of Dickens' depressing past. He also had philosophical purposes in mind, i.e. he was showing the people that love conquers hate, and that Heaven conquers Hell. As for the analysis of Dickens' writing techniques, I feel that he was fairly unsubtle in stating his theme (as shown in the message in the introduction; RECAALLED TO LIFE), but that forcefulness is still typical of a Victorian novel. It supports Victorian working-class values, that work was something that anyone could (and should) fall back on, even in their lowest hour. It is also a lot of interwoven sub-plots, some of which are relevant (such as the stories of the three characters mentioned above), and some of which are not, such as the story of the grave-robbing Jerry Cruncher. He fears the idea that any of the corpses might be 'recalled to life' and come back to haunt him for digging them up, because the 'deceased' (Mr Bansad) only pretended to be dead! Although, Cruncher's story may have played some part at the end, when they locate a coffin full of stones; perhaps the man inside recalled to life! Dickens was a fine writer, and his books were probably very enjoyable at the time, but the language is now out of date, and the theme is centuries old, yet still relevant. I may have found it tedious, but the book is a very large window into London's and Paris' bloody pasts. Jamie Mactulloch-Gair, 4lb ...read more.

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