Essay, Research Paper: Tale Of Two Cities

Literature: Charles Dickens

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In the fictitious novel Tale of Two Cities, the author, Charles Dickens, lays
out a brilliant plot. Charles Dickens was born in England on February 7, 1812
near the south coast. His family moved to London when he was ten years old and
quickly went into debt. To help support himself, Charles went to work at a
blacking warehouse when he was twelve. His father was soon imprisoned for debt
and shortly thereafter the rest of the family split apart. Charles continued to
work at the blacking warehouse even after his father inherited some money and
got out of prison. When he was thirteen, Dickens went back to school for two
years. He later learned shorthand and became a freelance court reporter. He
started out as a journalist at the age of twenty and later wrote his first
novel, The Pickwick Papers. He went on to write many other novels, including
Tale of Two Cities in 1859. Tale of Two Cities takes place in France and England
during the troubled times of the French Revolution. There are travels by the
characters between the countries, but most of the action takes place in Paris,
France. The wineshop in Paris is the hot spot for the French revolutionists,
mostly because the wineshop owner, Ernest Defarge, and his wife, Madame Defarge,
are key leaders and officials of the revolution. Action in the book is scattered
out in many places; such as the Bastille, Tellson's Bank, the home of the
Manettes, and largely, the streets of Paris. These places help to introduce many
characters into the plot. One of the main characters, Madame Therese Defarge, is
a major antagonist who seeks revenge, being a key revolutionist. She is very
stubborn and unforgiving in her cunning scheme of revenge on the Evermonde
family. Throughout the story, she knits shrouds for the intended victims of the
revolution. Charles Darnay, one of whom Mrs. Defarge is seeking revenge, is
constantly being put on the stand and wants no part of his own lineage. He is a
languid protagonist and has a tendency to get arrested and must be bailed out
several times during the story. Dr. Alexander Manette, a veteran prisoner of the
Bastille and moderate protagonist, cannot escape the memory of being held and
sometimes relapses to cobbling shoes. Dr. Manette is somewhat redundant as a
character in the novel, but plays a very significant part in the plot. Dr.
Manette's daughter, Lucie Manette, a positive protagonist, is loved by many and
marries Charles Darnay . She is a quiet, emotional person and a subtle
protagonist in the novel. One who never forgot his love for Lucie, the
protagonist Sydney Carton changed predominately during the course of the novel.
Sydney , a look-alike of Charles Darnay, was introduced as a frustrated,
immature alcoholic, but in the end, made the ultimate sacrifice for a good
friend. These and other characters help to weave an interesting and dramatic
plot. Dr. Manette has just been released from the Bastille, and Lucie, eager to
meet her father whom she thought was dead, goes with Mr. Jarvis Lorry to bring
him back to England. Dr. Manette is in an insane state from his long prison stay
and does nothing but cobble shoes, although he is finally persuaded to go to
England. Several years later, Lucie, Dr. Manette, and Mr. Lorry are witnesses at
the trial of Charles Darnay. Darnay, earning his living as a tutor, frequently
travels between England and France and is accused of treason in his home country
of France. He is saved from being prosecuted by Sydney Carton, who a witness
confuses for Darnay, thus not making the case positive. Darnay ended up being
acquitted for his presumed crime. Darnay and Carton both fall in love with Lucie
and want to marry her. Carton, an alcoholic at the time, realizes that a
relationship with Lucie is impossible, but he still tells her that he loves her
and would do anything for her. Darnay and Lucie marry each other on the premises
of the two promises between Dr. Manette and Darnay. Right after the marriage,
while the newlyweds are on their honeymoon, Dr. Manette has a relapse and
cobbles shoes for nine days straight. France's citizens arm themselves for a
revolution and, led by the Defarges, start the revolution by raiding the
Bastille. Shortly before the start of the revolution, the Marquis runs over a
child in the streets of Paris. He is assassinated soon after by Gaspard, the
child's father, who is also a part of the revolution. Three years later, right
in the middle of the revolution, Darnay is called to France to help Gabelle, an
old friend. As soon as he goes down what seems to be a one-way street to France,
he is arrested (in France) for being an enemy of the state. Dr. Manette, Lucie,
and the Darnay's daughter go shortly after to Paris to see if they can be of any
help to Charles. When the delayed trial finally takes place, Dr. Manette, who is
in the people's favor, uses his influence to free Charles. The same day, Charles
is re-arrested on charges set forth by the Defarges and one other mystery
person. The next day, at a trial that had absolutely no delay, Charles is
convicted and sentenced to death. Because of the despondent situation, Dr.
Manette has a relapse and cobbles shoes. Sydney Carton overhears plot to kill
Lucie, her daughter, and Dr. Manette and has them immediately get ready to leave
the country. Carton, having spy contacts, gets into the prison in which Darnay
is being held, drugs him and switches places with him. Lucie, Charles, and their
daughter successfully leave the country. Sydney Carton, making the ultimate
sacrifice, partly for Lucie, goes to the guillotine in place of Charles. Just
before he dies, Carton has a vision in which society is greatly improved and the
Darnays have a son named after him. This dramatic plot revolves around several
central themes. One theme involves revenge. One's bad side is brought out by the
evil effects of revenge. Madame Defarge is the main subject of this implicit
theme. She turns into a killing machine because she must get revenge. An example
of this is when she finds out Charles Darnay is an Evermonde and is going to
marry Lucie Manette. She knits Darnay's name into the death register. Another
key theme in the novel has to do with courage and sacrifice. There were many
sacrifices in this novel by many different characters. The ultimate sacrifice
was made by Sydney Carton. Because of his love for Lucie and his friendship with
Darnay, Carton is the example of one of the most important themes implied in
this book. Carton helps others, and does not think so much of himself. Right
before going to the guillotine, Carton sees a better world, a world where he
gave to others, not thinking of himself. These themes help outline an
interesting story.
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