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The Inhumanity Of Man In A Tale Of Two Cities

1253 words - 6 pages

The time preceding and following the French Revolution was not only an era of change, but also a time of deceit and suspicion in England and France. In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens thoroughly illustrates through symbols what every stage of the French Revolution looked like from the point of view of revolutionaries, aristocrats, and bystanders. The events that caused the changes in France were acts of injustice towards the peasant class. However, when the Revolution began, the revolutionaries started treating the aristocrats inhumanely. Blue flies, knitting, the shadow, and the grindstone are the symbols that best portray the theme of man’s inhumanity towards his fellow man in A Tale ...view middle of the document...

This would further the suspicion that he is a spy. The crowd buzzes with conversation because they see that she has compassion for Darnay, however, the people are disappointed when Darnay is acquitted because they have little regard for human life. The flies that represent the English people “were dispersing in search of other carrion” (59). The swarming people enjoying the suffering of Darnay portrays man’s inhumanity towards his fellow man. When Charles Darnay returns to France, he is put on trial again by the vengeance of Madame Defarge.
Madame Defarge reveals her inhumanity through her constant knitting and her terrifying shadow. Determined to carry out her plot against the aristocracy that caused the death of her family, she obsessively knits the death register into her shrouds. Monsieur Defarge justifies to the other revolutionaries his wife’s means of keeping the death register when he explains seriously, “…if madame my wife undertook to keep the register in her memory alone she would not lose a word – not a syllable of it. Knitted in her own stitches and her own symbols, it will always be plain to her as the sun. Confide in Madame Defarge” (132). Madame Defarge wants a secretive and safe way to constantly update the register without suspicion, so she embeds in code throughout her knitting. In a more direct way, the shadow of Madame Defarge brings Death which threatens Lucie and Little Lucie when “The shadow of Madame Defarge and her party seemed then to fall threateningly and dark, on both the mother and the child” (207), even though they are innocent of crimes toward the peasants. Madame Defarge includes them as part of Darnay’s family and therefore as members of “the chateau and all the race” (132). Madame Defarge is driven by revenge for her sister and brother who were both killed by Darnay’s father and uncle who resided in a grand chateau. To cast the shadow of certain Death upon a person, or to include innocent life in the knitted register, shows that man is inhumane to his fellow man. However, the inhumanity of the shadow of Death is not as terrifying as the hellish scenes on Earth.
The turning of the grindstone represents how the turning of the Earth will effect great change, and the unnatural, red glow of blood that smothers the Earth cannot be removed. As Mr. Lorry looks to the courtyard outside of his window at the Tellson’s residence, he sees the people that have come to sharpen their weapons at the grindstone. When the crowd assembles, two men operate it “…whose faces, as their long hair flapped back when the whirlings of...

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