English 2 H
14 May, 2018
Duality in A Tale of Two Cities
Contrast between two themes or characters creates deeper meaning and allows for the author to put his own opinions in their piece of literature. Charles Dickens uses similarities and differences between his characters and other objects and themes to make statements or to create deeper meaningful themes in A Tale of Two Cities. The novel mainly features two cities and their development through one main conflict, the revolution. The revolution splits up France into two sides, those who want to fight against the higher class, and those defending. This structure Dickens has created allows for many examples of duality to be sourced from. By pairing the cities Dickens illustrates how the two countries deal with conflict, through light and dark passages Dickens illustrates contrasts between different themes, and through the different identities people during the revolution had created to endure the revolution.
The novel, being entirely based around two cities, creates many opportunities for comparisons to be formed. St. Antoine and London, although in different countries are connected through the plot. Through the characters traveling between the countries, Dickens is able to display the culture and conflict that is shared between the nations, as well as how they differ and cope with such struggles. Paris is where disorder reigns, the poor are anguishing from the overpowering upper class. When the revolution is finally upon the French people, they become chaotic and violent, destroying everything to get what they want. Peace is absent during this time and numerous rich and poor French citizens die. However in England, they are able to endure struggles because they have an established government system already. “Darnay had yesterday pleaded Not Guilty to an indictment denouncing him for that he was a false traitor” (Dickens 87). While Darnay was able to be tried for his crime, and was ultimately found innocent, in France things were not as civil. The conflict between the different estates in France were not settled in a court, but instead taken care of through a civil war, using violence to find justice. Additionally, France’s ‘leaders’ at the time could do whatever they wanted to the citizens of France, and as Charles Dickens’ wrote this novel, they gave no remorse for doing such. The Marquis for example, had run over and murdered a child unintentionally, however brushed it off like nothing had happened and offered no apologies other than a payment towards the family. If this were to have happened in England, the Marquis would have been met with consequences for such a violent act, however this was not the case in France.
Charles Dickens’ begins the novel addressing multiple themes of duality that occur in the story he had created, with one of the most memorable opening lines, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness… ” (Dickens 1). In this opening line he specifically uses capitalization on the first letter of light and darkness, which is not normally used in formal writing unless the word is a name. In this case Dickens’ wanted the words light and darkness to be more personified, so he did address these themes as names, this was done so because in this novel his characters know ‘Light’ and ‘Darkness’ much like how they would know a figurative person. The characters he creates have been through such a significant amount of conflict- darkness, and so much reward- light. Although,