The Irony of The Republic that Never Existed
“The Republic One and Indivisible of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death.” This statement is best known as the slogan of the French Revolution and is mentioned as a popular quote in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. The French revolution, (as told by Wikipedia) was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France from 1789 to 1799 that had a fundamental impact on French history and on modern history worldwide. This war, that lasted 10 years, is the main focus of A Tale of Two Cities. The Slogan of The French Revolution, that was frequently mentioned in the book, is completely filled with Irony.
First starting with The Republic. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines a Republic as, “a state in which the exercise of the sovereign power is lodged in representatives elected by the people.” At this point in time, France was not a Republic. This, however, was what they were aiming for as the outcome of this ten year civil war. At the time, France was composed of total chaos, due to not having an official form of government. An example from the book, is a quote by the seamstress, referring to her cousin, just before she is guillotined. “What I have been thinking as we came along, and what I am still thinking now, as I look into your kind strong face which gives me so much support, is this: If the Republic really does good to the poor, and they come to be less hungry, and in all ways to suffer less, she may live a long time: she may even live to be old.” It is clear that she believes her death will provide hope to the republic, which doesn't even exist.
Liberty, as defined by Webster’s 1828 Dictionary means, “A state of society so far only abridged and restrained, as is necessary and expedient for the safety and interest of the society, state, or nation. The restraints of laws are essential to liberty.” Well, as was said in the last paragraph, France, at that time, was a country of complete and utter chaos, with no laws to follow what so ever. So without laws, how could there liberty? I feel that the characters in the book longed to find a country order and laws, which is why they fled the country. It was well known then that liberty was outside France, not within.
“An agreement of things in dimensions, quantity, or quality; likeness; similarity in regard to two things compared.” This is the definition of Equality as told by Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. There was no good form of equality in France at this time. Meaning there was no equality in life, but equality in death. This is evident in Charles Darnays character. He was arrested, imprisioned, and put on trial like many other...