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Symbols Of Inhumanity In A Tale Of Two Cities By Charles Dickens

1083 words - 4 pages

The French Revolution was a chaotic, destructive time. This is clearly illustrated in the book A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. In this novel, there are many examples of inhumanity, especially during the revolutionaries’ attacks against anyone who was believed to be treasonous or aristocratic. Men were very cruel to their fellow men, even creating the monstrous guillotine to kill people faster and more efficiently. Charles Dickens portrays such violence from the French Revolution very well with the symbols of the blue-flies, the storm, and red wine.
For example, the blue-flies represent the people’s lust for blood. During Charles Darnay’s first trial, “a buzz arose in the court as if a cloud of great blue-flies were swarming about the prisoner, in anticipation of what he was soon to become” (Dickens 50). When this quote is said, Charles Darnay, a prisoner at the time, is being tried for treason, with a punishment of death. The people seem to gravitate towards the prisoner, just as flies would on a dead body. Not only that, but there is also a “buzzing” in the courtroom, which could represent the spectators’ whispers. After Darnay has been acquitted, it is said that “the crowd came pouring out with a vehemence that nearly took him off his legs, and a loud buzz swept into the street as if the baffled blue-flies were dispersing in search of other carrion” (59). These people are confused, probably because they are disappointed about the prisoner’s sudden acquittal. The use of the word “carrion” enhances the metaphor of the flies; these people are suddenly searching for new victims. Also, the fact that they pour out of the courtroom with vehemence and passion clearly shows their morbid fascination with death.
Secondly, the metaphor of the storm represents the brutality of the war. One example of this is when it is said, “there were other echoes, from a distance, that rumbled menacingly in the corner all through this space of time. And it was now, about little Lucie’s sixth birthday, that they began to have an awful sound, as of a great storm in France with a dreadful sea rising” (164). This metaphor, with the storm slowly but surely building, acts as a type of foreshadowing for the upcoming conflict. Not only that, but also in the quote the phrase “rumbled menacingly” is used; this could be talking about thunder in a storm, illustrating how violent this war would soon be. For instance, the crashes of thunder could be comparable to the blasts of cannons and rifles. This terrifying and brutal conflict, starting with the attack on the Bastille, is clearly illustrated in the novel when the author mentions the crashes that the escaped prisoners hear with this quote: “Hemmed in here by the massive thickness of walls and arches, the storm within the fortress and without was only audible to them in a dull, subdued way, as if the noise out of which they had come had almost destroyed their sense of hearing” (168). The loud noises inside the Bastille,...

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