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A Tale Of Two Cities, By Charles Dickens

1679 words - 7 pages

The era surrounding the French Revolution was a horrifically bloody and violent period of history – the best of times and the worst of times. The violence enacted by the citizens of French on their fellow countrymen set a gruesome scene in the cities and country sides of France. Charles Dickens uses a palate of storm, wine, and blood imagery in A Tale of Two Cities to paint exactly how tremendously brutal this period of time was.
Dickens use of storm imagery throughout his novel illustrates to the reader the tremulous, fierce, and explosive time period in which the course of events takes place. Dicken’s use of illustrating storms throughout the novel serves the important purpose of showing the reader how the events of the French Revolution not only affected Charles Darnay’s life, but the wellbeing of France as a whole. In the streets of St. Antoine, as the wine cart crashes spilling wine everywhere, a storm seemingly settles on Paris, casting shadows and fear much in the same way a strong tempest strikes up doubt and concern in the hearts of men, “now that the cloud settled on Saint Antoine, which a momentary gleam had driven from his sacred countenance, the darkness of it was heavy- cold, dirt, sickness, ignorance, and want” (33). The imagery of a storm in the streets of St. Antoine foreshadows the coming ferocity and brutality of the French Revolution and the sheer terror it cast in the hearts of most men. As Defarge, one of the leading revolutionaries, talks to his wife in the wine-shop, Dickens relates the attempts of the common man to depose the nobility to storms: “It does not take a long time to strike a man with lightning” (177). The lightning of which he speaks can be related to the ferocity and swiftness of the revolutionaries to remove the yoke of oppression the ruling class has on their shoulders and the strength that they possess for accomplishing their goals. Dickens compares the revolution again to a destructive storm, this time in the form of the sea: “The sea of black and threatening waters, and of destructive upheaving of wave against wave, whose depths were yet unfathomed and whose forces yet unknown. The remorseless sea of turbulently swaying shapes, voices of vengeance, and faces hardened in the furnaces of suffering until the touch of pity could make no mark on them” (217). In addition to describing the dark, cataclysmic nature of the sea of rebellion rising with each crashing wave, Dickens paints the mystery that the future holds for the revolution; the vagueness of the blood waiting to be spilt, as well as the resolve the common man has for deposing the nobility. The chapter names throughout A Tale of Two Cities are yet one more example of the storm imagery revealed to the reader. For instance, the twenty second chapter of the second book, titled “The Sea Still Rises,” serves the purpose of comparing the French Revolution to an ocean, rising in the impending storm. The fourth chapter of the third book, “Calm in Storm,”...

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