Two Cities


Two Cities Essay, Research Paper

Jarvis Lorry, an employee of Tellson’s Bank, was sent to find Dr. Manette, an unjustly

imprisoned physician, in Paris and bring him back to England. Lucie, Manette’s daughter

who thought that he was dead, accompanied Mr. Lorry. Upon arriving at Defarge’s wine

shop in Paris, they found Mr. Manette in a dreadful state and took him back to London

with them. In 1780, five years later, Lucie, Mr. Lorry and Dr. Manette were called to

testify against Charles Darnay, a tutor who made constant trips between France and

England and was thus accused of treason, but Darnay was acquitted when a lawyer, Carton,

looked much like him and an eye witness faltered to positively distinguish between them.

Carton loved Lucie but he was a drunk. Knowing that their relationship was hopeless,

he stated that he would sacrifice himself for her or anyone she loved in an emotional

conversation. Darnay ended up marrying Lucie. Darnay’s uncle, the Marquiuis St.

Evremonde, was assassinated by the father of a child he ran over and Darnay inherited

his Chateau. Darnay would not take it because he did not want to exploit the French

people as his uncle did. In 1792, while the French Revolution was in full swing, Darnay

decided to go to France to save a family servant, Gabelle. Upon his arrival, he was

immediately jailed. Lucie and Dr. Manette soon showed up in Paris at the doorstep of

Tellson’s French office, where Lorry already was present. Dr. Manette managed to get

Darnay released after a year, yet he was re-jailed the same day by Madame Defarge because

his family, the Evremondes, had previously killed off her family. Darnay was tried the

next day and sentenced to death. Manette went back into his demented state with hopelessness.

Carton arrived in Paris and heard a plot by Defarge to also kill Lucie and Dr. Manette.

Quickly, he made his way into the prison with the help of spies and, with his close

resemblance, switched places with Darnay. Carton had arranged for the escape of Lucie,

Darnay, and Dr. Manette. Madame Defarge had been killed by Miss Pross, a sort of stereotype

nanny to Lucie, and escaped with Lucie. Carton sacrificed his life for Lucie, her father,

and Darnay at the guillotine and thus died in triumph.

Dickens attempted to show his readers the power and dangers of a revolution. He

had a clear underlying theme that oppression and exploitation by an aristocracy will cause

a revolt by those being exploited, a fact that made the French Revolution inevitable.

Throughout this book, it was visible that Dickens drew a connection between oppression and

anarchy. Yet the power of love and sacrifice were, in the end, linked with a resurrection

of society.

Dickens purpose in writing this work was clearly and thoroughly carried out. The

harsh treatment of the aristocracy towards the poor was constantly shown. In one case, the

Marquis St. Evremonde ran over a peasant child and merely through a few coins at the father

to compensate for this loss. The anarchy of the revolution was shown by the numerous mobs

that roamed the streets of Paris. Many nobles had left France and there was no powerful

government. Thus a direct connection was drawn between the oppression by the aristocracy

and the outbreak of revolution turning quickly into anarchy.

Dickens was biased with a sympathy for the victimized, especially for children.

The idea that the victimized, when extorted for long enough, would revolt was a central

idea behind this novel. The unjust imprisonment of Dr. Manette tore him apart. He could

never truly escape from his prison experience and in moments of great stress reverted to the

insanity which Mr. Lorry and Lucie had found upon him at Defarge’s. Darnay had been tried

often and came close to conviction a number of times all due to the past actions of his

family. He was a mere victim of the past. Dickens clearly showed strong support for Darnay

and Dr. Manette not only in the outcome, where they successfully escaped France, but also

throughout the story. When the peasant child was run over by Marquis St. Evremonde, Dickens

showed a great deal of contempt for Evremonde, when he merely offered a few coins as his

remorse, and created a sense that this was a terrible act. I have learned a great deal about

life during the early French Revolution and viewed the anarchy with much internal depth while

reading this novel. Members of the upper aristocracy were, in general, more conceited that I

had previously thought them to be. Men like Monseigneur, a member of the ruling oligarchy,

simply sat around most of the day finding ways to entertain themselves and caring little, if

at all, for the welfare of France, nonetheless for anyone other than themselves. The numerous

mobs were more volatile then I had expected. They roamed, destroying at random, and went on

to a new task with little persuasion. Many mobs cheered in joy for Darnay when he was

acquitted at his first trial in France but were just as excited when he was condemned to

death the second time. Society in general during the French Revolution has become much clearer

to me.

I found this novel to be extremely well written. It was originally a little difficult

to understand until I became involved with the characters. At that point I had no problem

following the plot, which actually became quite swift. The French Revolution was brilliantly

displayed in all of its violence and anarchy. The underlying ideas of oppression and anarchy

made it enjoyable to see how the characters interacted. I found Carton especially intriguing.

He knew that Lucie would never court him, before and after her marriage to Darnay, yet he

devoted his life to her and gave it up in the end for her. Despite all of the depressing aspects

of the novel, Dickens’ theme of resurrection became much more visible towards the end and

actually was quite inspiring. As Carton gave his life for Darnay and Lucie, his final vision

of a better society left me with a hopeful attitude and seemed to be an extraordinary way to


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