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Tale of Two cities
A Time of Terror
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is a story written to promote
awareness of the tragedies that occurred in France during the French revolution.
The two themes of the book are interconnected with each other. The themes are
those of sacrifice, and hate. The themes are portrayed through out the book and
are shown by the actions of the characters. The story is perfectly described in
the following paraphrase by William Butler Yeats, in The Second Coming
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The centre in this poem represents Paris, France. Paris was the center of the
newly formed republic and revolution. The monarchy in France had only a few jobs
and responsibilities, to represent, care for, create jobs for, and make peace
for all people of France. King Luis XVI was a failure, one of the worst and most
selfish kings to ever reign over France, he was the straw that broke the camels
back. King Louis XVI has his priorities in disarray. Not once did he place the
people of France before himself, he was impeccably greedy. He taxed the peasants
more than ever, they were starving, sick, and dying. He failed at his duty.
Chaos broke out and people rebelled, “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”
The center, the government, fell apart. “Things fell apart; the centre cannot
hold.” The people needed a leader, someone other than the king, and that was
in their situation, someone that understood their needs. Madame Defarge, Ernest
Defarge, and the Jacques were all willing to lead the French people against the
king and for the new democracy. The people were angry and wanted revenge, they
hated all aristocrats, the king, and the old regime. Leaders like Madame Defarge
had the same beliefs and were followed because they were willing to act upon
their hatred. Hatred and revenge were the main reasons for the sixty-three
deaths a day. Everyone was in fear of the sharp lady, the guillotine. Many
innocent people were sacrificed for the republic for being traitors of France.
The entire revolution broke out into such chaos that people were being killed
left and right, including the leaders.
Dickens uses France and England to compare and contrast his views and
opinions about the French revolution and to show the anarchy that was taking
place. He mocks the king and the nobles. “His mornings chocolate could not so
much as get into the throat of Monsignor, without the aid of four strong men
besides the cook. Yes. It took four men, all four ablaze with gorgeous
decoration, and the Chief of them unable to exist with fewer than two gold
watches in his pocket, emulative of the noble and chaste fashion set by
Monsignor, to conduct the happy chocolate to Monsignor’s lips.” Pitiful
situations as these, were the concerns of the nobility and royalty in France,
not that of the starving population. These were the little things caused the
huge explosion and rebellion in France. Death was the answer to everything, the
term innocent until proven guilty was never used, guilty till proven innocent in
the courts. People during this time lived in fear, constant fear, and in hate of
their situation, their leaders, their republic, and the democracy and even their
newly found freedom. Hate and revenge were the only things that mattered.
The best act of sacrifice was shown by Sydney Carton. Carton is in loving
adoration of Lucie Manette and will do anything for her. “For the life you
love” was the phrase whispered into Lucie’s ear by Carton before he
sacrificed his life for her beloved husband. Carton met his death with great
dignity, in fulfilling his old promise to Lucie, he attains peace within. Those
that watched Carton’s death stated, “The peacefullest man’s face ever
beheld” at the guillotine.
Sacrifice was the name of the game for Carton.
All of these interconnected themes and phrases from William Butler Yeast
relate to the French Revolution and tell the pathetically sad story of A Tale of
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