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Symbols Of Inhumanity In A Tale Of Two Cities

926 words - 4 pages

The French Revolution is a revolt of oppressed peasants against the aristocracy of France in 1789. In A Tale of Two Cities, written by Charles Dickens, he uses several pictures to help capture the essence of the appalling things taking place during this revolt. Dickens introduces the reader to several metaphors that he then fosters into symbols of important themes throughout the book. His creative use of physical objects, as well as the people, or the motive behind them gives the reader insight into what it would be like to be present during that time. The grindstone, knitting, and La Guillotine are all symbols created by Dickens to help illustrate the shocking truth of the French ...view middle of the document...

The knitting done by Mrs. Defarge throughout the book is another symbol used to demonstrate how unspeakable the inhumanity of man to his own kind. Throughout the book, women are shown as being “vicious, with the experience that they could tear” (171). We are first introduced to women knitting a registry when Monsieur Defarge says, “ ‘if madame my wife undertook to keep the register in her memory alone, she would not lose a word of it, not a syllable of it. Knitted in her own stitches and her own symbols, it will always be as plain to her as the sun’ “ (132). This shows that women were just as involved in revolution as men and they could be vicious and cruel as shown when Madame Defarge is visiting Lucie and Little Lucie. While visiting them, Madame Defarge begins to knit Lucie and Little Lucie in her registry when she stops and says, “ ‘Is this his child?’ said Madame Defarge stopping in her work for the first time, and pointing her knitting needle at little Lucia as if it were the finger if Fate” (207). The way that Little Lucie’s fate is being decided by people who she has never been associated with in her life except for being related, exhibits the determination of Madame Defarge to exterminate one race from earth. Her determination leads us to believe that she would do anything at all, even going behind her loyal husband’s back, to get what she wants. Inhumanity is shown through Madame Defarge and her knitting because she willingly sentences people to death and holds their fate, just as La guillotine seals their fate.
The most horrible symbol of inhumanity towards man is La Guillotine, the...

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