Once The Vessel Cracks Essay

1900 words - 8 pages

Once the Vessel Cracks
In the novel, A Tale of Two Cities, author Charles Dickens narrates the complex tale of love, rebirth, and revenge when a young aristocrat is wrongly incarcerated during the violent and unforgiving French Revolution. The closing of the story is a pleasant one for the aristocrat, who avoids his execution and successfully reunites with his loved ones through a narrow escape aided by a hopeless drunk, who trades in his own miserable life for that of the young man at the guillotine. Throughout the novel, one will find many instances in which Dickens utilizes the motif of light versus dark to create clear distinctions between good and evil. Case in point, the prominence of ...view middle of the document...

For instance, when the two embrace for the first time in the cold, dark room Doctor Manette had been locked up in, “his cold white head mingled with [Lucie’s] radiant hair, which warmed and lighted it as though it were the light of Freedom shining” (41). While it certainly is true Lucie’s presence is what helped him out of a literal dark place, it should also be noted that without her, it is very unlikely Doctor Manette would ever change his ways on his own to escape his tortured soul, which was made so by prolonged isolation. Likewise, when it came to instances in which Doctor Manette relapsed into the dark void of hopelessness and shut out the world to focus on his only coping method, making shoes, his dependence on Lucie is exemplified, for “only [Lucie] had the power of charming his black brooding from his mind” (71). To Doctor Manette, Lucie acts as a reminder that light prevails even in the presence of darkness. Consequently, for a man that has suffered too much to find light in himself and must find it in others, it is unfathomable for him to lose the one and only source he is closest to. In contrast to the luminescent character of Lucie Manette is the latter, Madame Defarge, a “dark[,] stout woman” (102) who leads of the revolutionaries during violent uprisings and is a key conspirator in creating a “hit list” of aristocrats. On her way to raid the Bastille, she is accompanied by fellow revolutionaries, who are described as “the sea of black and threatening waters…whose depths were yet unfathomed and…forces yet unknown” (203). The juxtaposition between the violent revolutionaries and a large body of water is significant, due to the fact that both are incredibly powerful, destructive, and ultimately unstoppable, due to massive size and strength. Furthermore, in a chapter called, “The Shadow,” the dark looming of Madame Defarge’s intimidating character seems to momentarily dim the natural radiance of Lucie,. As a fierce leader in the revolution, it is vital that she remain cold-hearted and stoic towards both violence and affection, a threatening demeanor exemplified when she first meets Lucie, and ignores the poor wife’s pleads for the Defarges to spare her husband: “The shadow attendant on Madame Defarge and her party seemed to fall, threatening and dark, on both the mother and the child” (249). In this situation, the shadow of Madame Defarge’s evil intentions overpowers Lucie’s pure, innocent desire for freedom and the chance to see her husband once again. Strangely enough, however, Madame’s last moment on Earth is spent “struck out [with] a flash and a crash” (345), right as she dies by her own gun. Although one may expect Madame Defarge’s death to be dark and much more dramatic, her death is ultimately ended with a quick flash of light, light of which is deployed by Miss Pross, who just happens to be the loving nurse of Lucie Manette. All in all, it is clear to see that even though Madame’s domineering and intimidating character...

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