A Tale of Two Cities Essay: Love and Hate Tale Two Cities Essays

Love and Hate in A Tale of Two Cities 

  Many have grown fond of the tale involving the noble, former French aristocrat, who had virtually unmatched (except maybe in books) good fortune. First, his life was saved by the pitiful testimony of a beautiful young woman. Anyone would gladly have married this beautiful too-good-to-be-true-woman he wedded. It is later seen, however, that this man should have married her even if she were ugly as sin. This was not the case though, and he married a beautiful woman, who had an admirer who was a dead ringer for her husband, was a loser, and would give his life to keep her from pain, all of which really comes in handy when her hubby is on his way to the guillotine. This is not the story of a man with multiple guardian angels, but rather that of a character in Charles Dickens' novel A Tale of Two Cities. A skeptic could easily see this as an unbelievable, idealistic and overrated novel that is too far-fetched. An unbiased reader, however, can see that this is a story of love and hate, each making up the bare-bones of the novel so that one must look closely to see Dickens' biases, attempts at persuasion, and unbelievable plot-lines, some of which are spawned from Dickens' love and hate, and some of which love and hate are used to develop.

The more lifeless of the characters we are supposed to like--the Manettes, Darnay, Lorry-- play their parts in the idyllic fashion Dickens and like-minded readers want, a fashion made inflexible by circumstances and purposes. "Circumstances and purposes" refers in large part to Dickens' state of mind and objective. Dickens' intrusive, unusually editorial point of view, with references to "I" and deviations from narration for monologue, reveals the novel's slavery to the teachings of his morals--or perhaps his own slavery to the morals of his time and Protestantism. Therefore, can Lucie be any different from the supportive, wholly feminine wife and mother she is? Not if Dickens' is to stick to his obligation, or perhaps obstinate purpose, of moral teachings.

With that aside, what is to be said of Dickens' teaching, his presentation of love and hate? They both have one thing in common: the characters representing each are unmistakable at a mile away. The moment Lucie Manette is put before the reader's eyes, her tumbling blond locks, her bright blue eyes, her seventeen-year-old, slight, pretty (but not sexy!) figure and all, he knows that, not only will she not be a villainous, unlikable character, but she will be the epitome of the good, beautiful woman (and later housewife), the one Dickens thought every women should be. At this young woman's introduction with Mr. Lorry, she curtseys to him, and Dickens wastes no time in pointing out that "young ladies made curtseys in those days". The introductory scene climaxes at fair Lucie's fainting, one that, to some, puts her unflawed position into question, although to Dickens, it reinforces it.

At the other side of this moral lecture are the Defarges. Call Dickens a master for embodying qualities, but here are another flawless pair--flawlessly evil, and sentenced to evil from the moment we see Madame Defarge's "watchful eye that seldom seemed to look at anything, a large hand heavily ringed, a steady face, strong features, and great composure of manner", a stark contrast to the slight, fainting figure of Mada-- or rather, Miss Manette. To further turn us against good old Madame Defarge, Dickens has her using a toothpick publicly in her opening scene, an activity dainty Miss Manette wouldn't dream of. Finally, we mustn't forget the setting. Lucie may have been born in France, but she defected to England, and traveled from London to meet Mr. Lorry. Madame Defarge was a Frenchwoman, born and living amongst peasants who drank wine scooped off of mud. She probably was not taught Dickens' (and his primary English audience's) Protestant morals in her Catholic nation, and certainly did not manifest them.

In arguably the book's first touching scene (some say it's the one where Carton is on his way to the guillotine), Lucie goes through much trouble to coax her father