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%  &    Tale of Two Cities

   What, then, could A Tale of Two
        Cities signify for Dickens's
readers, if the writer's fears of a
massive uprising similar to the
    French Revolution appeared

      groundless? The answer may be
found by a closer look at the
Ê       , 
(  contrasts, and not the similarities,
between France and England as
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they are depicted in the novel.

  Rather than drawing readers'
attention to the current problems of
% &  the country through a comparison

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  with the condition of pre-
revolutionary and revolutionary
      France, these contrasts serve to
reaffirm the stability of England.
To illustrate, when Lucie Paris and France in the novel. "I
Manette finds her father Dr. see a beautiful city and a brilliant
Manette in Paris after his eighteen- people rising from this abyss,"
year imprisonment in the Bastille, (357; bk. 3, ch. 15) thinks Carton
she tells him that they will "go to to himself. And yet, his prophecy
England to be at peace and at rest" seems to be inappropriate, as the
(44; bk. 1, ch. 6). Charles Darnay, novel has never given a sense that
while explaining his decision to Paris is likely to become a
renounce his title and privileges as 'beautiful' city that ennobles or is
a member of the aristocratic ennobled by its people. Carton's
Evrémonde family, refers to "solemn interest« in the streets
England as his "Refuge" (119; bk. along which the sixties rolled to a
2, ch. 9). Jarvis Lorry complains death which had become so
about the difficulties of common and material, that no
communication brought about by sorrowful story of a haunting Spirit
the Revolution between the ever arose among the people out of
London and Paris branches of all the working of the
Tellson's Bank: "At another time, Guillotine«" (298; bk. 3, ch. 9) is
our parcels would come and go, as one of the best examples of the
easily as in business-like Old feeling of revulsion that is
England; but now, everything is associated with Paris and its
stopped" (226; bk. 2, ch. 24). In people throughout the novel. Nor
contrast, France becomes more and has the novel shown any characters
more dangerous as the novel who may become the 'brilliant
unfolds. The acts of violence people' of France who will make
committed by the revolutionary their country rise from "this abyss"
mob are among the most in the future. Dr. Manette comes
memorable scenes in the novel. To closest; he has suffered the evils of
give but one example, when the both the ancien régime (a term
Bastille is stormed, the mob kill referring to the rule and the way of
the governor "with a rain of stabs life in France before the
and blows," and Madame Defarge Revolution) and revolutionary
decapitates him "with her cruel France, but his future is clearly
knife" (209; bk. 2, ch. 21). with his daughter and son-in-law
in England. None of them is likely
It may be argued that to return after their escape, not
Sydney Carton's silent prophecy only because it will be politically
about the future on his way to the unwise, but also because a happy
guillotine compensates for the and safe future awaits them in
negative image of revolutionary England, as Carton prophecies: "I
see the lives for which I lay down sympathetically will end up in
my life, peaceful, useful, England, whereas the villains, both
prosperous and happy, in that French and English, will finally
England which I shall see no pay for their crimes on the
more" (357; bk. 3, ch. 15). guillotine in France.

The future awaiting the The only character to contradict

"villains of the piece," on the other this pattern is Sydney Carton, who
hand, is death in France. In the is executed on the guillotine in
penultimate chapter of the novel, Paris. However, his death is not
Madame Defarge, who has been rendered as part of the workings of
driven by a desire to see each and poetic justice, as in the case of the
every descendant of the villains, but rather as a divine
Evrémonde family executed, dies reward. From the moment that he
by accidentally shooting herself in decides to sacrifice himself by
a struggle with Miss Pross, Lucie's dying on the guillotine instead of
faithful maid. Although the deaths Darnay, he repeats the lines from
of the other "villains" are not the Scriptures, beginning with "I
narrated directly in the novel, am the Resurrection and the life."
Carton foresees their fate on the This theme of resurrection
guillotine: "I see Barsad, and Cly, reappears with Carton's prophecy,
Defarge, the Vengeance, the where he envisions a son to be
Juryman, the Judge, long ranks of born to Lucie and Darnay, a son
the new oppressors who have risen who will bear Carton's name (357-
on the destruction of the old, 8; bk. 3, ch. 15). Thus he will
perishing by this retributive symbolically be reborn through
instrument [the guillotine], before Lucie and Darnay's child. This
it shall cease out of its present use" vision serves another essential
( 357; bk. 3, ch. 15). It is purpose, however. In the early
interesting to note that Carton's list parts of the novel, Lucie and
contains not only those French Darnay have a son, who dies when
characters associated with the yet a child (201; bk. 2, ch. 21).
Revolution, but also two English Why the vision of another child,
characters, Barsad and Cly. Their and a son, apart from the
careers as spies have finally continuation of the theme of
brought them to Paris, where they resurrection? If the Darnay\Carton
work for the revolutionary French family is to survive into the future,
government. The pattern is one of they need a son to bear their name.
poetic justice: the characters who But much more importantly, this
have been depicted second son will be born free of the
aristocratic stigma that has almost
destroyed his father Darnay's life.
In this way, the descendants of
Lucie and Darnay will live as
English citizens free of any
association with France and its
violent past. When viewed from
this perspective, A Tale of Two
Cities becomes a novel not about
the French Revolution, but about
the reaffirmation of England as a
safe haven and English citizenship
as something to be proud of. As
Miss Pross says, "the short and the
long of it is, that I am a subject of
His Most Gracious Majesty King
George the Third« and as such,
my maxim is, Confound their
politics, Frustrate their knavish
tricks, On him our hopes we fix,
God save the King!" (276; bk. 3,
ch. 7)