The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: A Story of the French Revolution

1. Introduction

"The Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens is a story about the French Revolution. The novel's action begins in 1775 and extends through the Reign of Terror to the Thermidorian Reaction in 1794.
The historical events that form the backdrop for the story are well-known and need not be repeated here. It is sufficient to say that they provide a powerful and compelling setting for Dickens's story of individuals caught up in the vortex of history.

2. The historical context of the novel

The French Revolution was one of the most important events in European history. It had a profound impact on the course of the development of modern Europe and caused a major shift in the balance of power between the old regimes and the new forces that were emerging.

The revolution was also a major event in Dickens's life. He was born in 1812, just two years after the outbreak of the revolution, and his childhood was shaped by its aftermath. His father was a minor government official who lost his job as a result of the political changes that followed the Fall of Napoleon. This placed a strain on the family finances and led to Dickens's being sent to work in a factory at the age of twelve.

Dickens's experience of poverty and injustice at first hand had a profound effect on his social conscience and his political views. He became a committed campaigner for social reform and an outspoken critic of the government's policies towards Ireland.

The Irish question was one of the main issues that divided British society in Dickens's time, and it was this issue that finally led to his break with his lifelong friend, William Makepeace Thackeray. Thackeray took the side of the ruling class in this dispute, while Dickens sided with the oppressed Irish people.

The Irish question was also one of the main themes of "The Tale of Two Cities". The novel is set during the period of the French Revolution, when there was widespread sympathy for the cause of liberty and equality among educated people in Britain. Many British intellectuals saw France as leading the way towards a new era of democracy, while others were appalled by the violence and terror that characterized the revolution.

Dickens himself seems to have been ambivalent about the French Revolution. On the one hand, he sympathized with its ideals; on the other hand, he was repelled by its violence. This ambivalence is reflected in "The Tale of Two Cities", which contains both an idealized picture of revolutionary France and a scathing indictment of its brutality.

3. The protagonists of the novel

The two main protagonists of "The Tale Of Two Cities" are Sidney Carton and Charles Darnay. They are men who are very different from each other in many ways, but who are also alike in some respects.

Sidney Carton is an English lawyer who is lazy and dissolute. He is clearly talented, but he has squandered his gifts and now lives only for drink and idleness. He is deeply unhappy with his life, but seems unable to change his ways.

Charles Darnay is a French nobleman who has renounced his title and wealth and now lives in England. He is a good and honourable man, who is devoted to his wife and child. He is also brave and principled, as he demonstrates when he refuses to return to France after the Revolution has begun.

The two men meet when Darnay is on trial for his life. Carton defends him, and though he knows that Darnay is innocent, he does not put up a very good defence. The result is that Darnay is found guilty and condemned to death.

Carton is deeply affected by this turn of events. He feels that it is his own fault that Darnay has been condemned, and he determines to save him from execution. He does this by taking Darnay's place on the scaffold, thus sacrificing his own life for that of the man he loves.

The love that Carton feels for Darnay is the one redeeming feature of his character. It is this love that enables him to overcome his selfishness and laziness and to make the ultimate sacrifice. It is also this love that makes him one of the most tragic and moving figures in Dickens's novel.

4. Themes of the novel

One of the main themes of "The Tale Of Two Cities" is the conflict between good and evil. This theme is embodied in the contrast between the two main protagonists, Sidney Carton and Charles Darnay.

Carton is a dissolute lawyer who has squandered his talents and now lives only for drink. He is clearly unhappy with his life, but seems unable to change his ways. In contrast, Darnay is a good and honourable man who has renounced his title and wealth and now lives in England with his wife and child.

The two men are drawn together by their common love for Lucie Manette, but they are also opposed to each other by their different values and principles. Carton represents the forces of evil, while Darnay represents the forces of good.

The conflict between these two opposing forces is played out against the backdrop of the French Revolution, which provides a powerful setting for Dickens's story. The revolution was characterized by violence and terror, and it is these elements that form the background to the conflict between Carton and Darnay.

Another important theme in "The Tale Of Two Cities" is the idea of sacrifice. This theme is closely related to the theme of good versus evil, as it is only through self-sacrifice that good can triumph over evil.

This idea is perfectly illustrated by the character of Sidney Carton. Despite his many faults, Carton is ultimately able to overcome his selfishness and laziness and to make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of those he loves. His selfless act of love enables him to transcend his own limitations and to become a heroic figure.

5. Conclusion

In conclusion, "The Tale Of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens


The major themes of "The Tale of Two Cities" are the cruelty of the French Revolution and the importance of sacrifice.

Dickens uses contrast to develop these themes by showing the differences between the two cities, Paris and London, and how they are affected by the Revolution.

The role of fate in the novel is important because it shows how people's choices can lead to either good or bad outcomes.

The characters' individual choices contribute to the larger story by shaping the events that take place during the course of the novel.

Dickens paints a sympathetic picture of revolution in "The Tale of Two Cities" because he shows how it can lead to positive change in society.

In what ways does "The Tale of Two Cities" reflect its historical context? The novel reflects its historical context in many ways, including its setting during the French Revolution and its focus on themes such as sacrifice and redemption.