Evidential Themes in A Tale of Two Cities


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A Tale of Two Cities Theme Analysis

Charles Dickens’s work A Tale of Two Cities portrays ideas of redemption and sacrifice, in order to provide the reader with hope and an awareness of the possibility of renewal and restoration. The book focuses on the relationships between a father and a daughter, a group of men, and a man and his wife. Each of these help to exemplify the feeling of rebirth, as some of these relationships were restored. The mentioning of spilled wine near the beginning of the book further emphasizes the theme as it often represents the blood of Christ. Finally, near the end of the story, the author alludes to a scripture in the Bible, specifically one that describes the belief of Christ’s resurrection and His assurance of eternal life to His followers. In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens outlines an overwhelming sense of restoration, and even resurrection, through a number of literary aspects, such as vivid imagery, meaningful point of view, and significant allusions, in an effort to show the reader concepts of hope and revival.

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In the fifth chapter of the first book, it is revealed that the Defarge’s wine shop had an accident where a cask of wine was dropped and broken. The spilled wine attracted people who began to sip it off the ground. This “spilling of wine” creates a mental image of the crucifixion of Christ, as his blood is represented in communion as wine. The idea of Christ’s sacrifice is developed as the people who came to drink it were stated as being, “…all living creatures…” (page 32). Just as all living creatures were affected by the sacrifice. Another allegorical image Dickens incorporates in the work is “the golden thread.” In the fourth chapter of the second book, Lucie is described as being a “golden thread” and having blonde hair. These elements work to exemplify an idea of almost fairytale-like or magical power, since Lucie was able to emotionally revive her father, as well as her relationship with him. This is proven in the beginning of the chapter, as it states, “Only his daughter had the power of charming this black brooding from his mind. She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and to a Present beyond his misery…” (page 84).

Point of view was a significant literary device Dickens utilized. The story is set in third-person omniscient point of view. This aspect of the work adds to the symbolic illustrations of Jesus Christ, as it allows the reader to view every character’s thoughts and actions, like an all-knowing and omnipresent being. An article by David Boyles supports this idea. “Because of its all-knowing nature and detachment from the action, the omniscient third-person narrator is sometimes called the ‘voice of God’ because the narrator appears to be looking down on the action from above with total knowledge.” (Point of View in A Tale of Two Cities).

At the end of the book, as Sydney Carton is being led to the guillotine in place of Charles Darnay, Dickens references John 11:25 from the Bible, which states, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die…’” (New International Version). This allusion helps to communicate the message of resurrection. The second most prominent allusion made in the work is the reference to the French Revolution. This mentioning of a revolution aids to the feeling of transformation. An article by Kiran-Raw supports this claim of reformation. “It may be argued that Sydney Carton’s silent prophecy about the future on his way to the guillotine compensates for the negative image of revolutionary Paris and France in the novel. ‘I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss,’ (357; bk. 3, ch. 15) thinks Carton to himself.” (The French Revolution in the Popular Imagination: A Tale of Two Cities).

Conclusively, it can be said that the book A Tale of Two Cities is truly a motivational and inspiring piece, as it communicates an underlying sense of redemption and hope. All throughout the work, the author implemented figurative images of Christ and togetherness, in an attempt to indicate a message of revival. The author also set the story in third-person omniscient―again giving the book a “God-like” atmosphere. Finally, Dickens alludes to “a golden thread”―which Lucie is described as―relating to a fairytale-like unity. Dicken’s work, A Tale of Two Cities, conveys an evidential theme of redemption, restoration, and hope, through deep allusions, emphatic imagery, and allegorical point of view, to evoke thoughts of hope and renewal, while also showing that unity and togetherness helps to attain said concepts. The author’s inspirational and insightful message is unmistakably why this book is such an appreciable read.

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