In Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, the introductory phrase states, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair (1).” All of these ideals are in opposition to each other encouraging the reader to discover the contrasting phraseology of the opening statement. In truth, the whole of the book is based upon the opposing features of societal norms gone awry. The book begins with a portrayal of society’s upper and lower class: the Aristocracy at the top and the poorest class at the bottom. As the theme develops in the story, the actions of the classes reverse roles. The poorest class rebels under their oppressive conditions and take devastating actions on their oppressors. Dickens’s “tale” shines a light on the ...view middle of the document...
A typical funeral of the times would include mourners and sincere funeral gatherers attending the procession to pay their respects to the deceased. Instead, of adhering to the normal standards of the times, the raucous crowd tries to pull the coffin from the hearse, begins to riot in the streets, and terrifies the community with their actions. Dickens uses a reoccurring theme of crowds of people being followers and “joining in” the excitement of the moment even if it is against their normal reactions to such happenings.
At the commencement of the story we join Jarvis Lorry who is on a quest to resurrect a good family friend who has been locked away in secret for the past several years. “A broad ray of light fell into the garret, and showed the workman with an unfinished shoe upon his lap, pausing in his labour” (30). When Manette sees his daughter for the first time in several years, it is a figurative resurrection for him personally. Manette, although not physically dead, had expired mentally, and was left to labor tirelessly in the monotonous, repetitive work as a shoemaker, the one thing he could remember how to do. The appearance of his daughter helped to lift Mannette above his circumstances so that his “agony was over and he could be at peace and rest” (34).
A third point of opposition repeated heavily in the book is between the characters Lucie Manette and Therese’ DeFarge. Lucie represents the “golden thread” (38). Lucie ties everyone in the story together through her kindness, her dedication to Darnay and her father, and her genuine love for all she associates with. People look up to her; people want to be near her because she elevates them to a higher level. Madame Defarge is also a unifying source in the Revolution. Those caught up in the excitement of the Revolution want to be near her because she is passionate about what she wants to accomplish. Madame Defarge elevates the poorest class to different levels and gives them courage as she tries to fulfill her own personal agenda. Unfortunately for Madame Defarge, her passion is her downfall in the end, whereas Lucie’s passion to do right helps her to solidify and to “keep a life you love beside you” (117).