Conflict in a Tale of Two Cities

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As with any historical fiction or work of literature, conflict is a necessary element in the novel A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens adequately develops conflict throughout the novel to build plot and suspense. Conflict is opposition between characters or forces in a work of drama or fiction, especially opposition that motivates or shapes the action of the plot. There are two major types of conflict; external and internal. External conflict can occur between two characters (man vs. man), between the character and a force of nature (man vs. nature) or between the character and society (man vs. society). Internal conflict is a struggle between the character and his mind (man vs. himself).

The major conflict in the novel centers around the French Revolution itself and the characters involved. This would be described as external conflict (man vs. society). The French lower class suffered for a long time under the tight rulings and restraints of the French government and aristocracy. The lives of ignorant French aristocrats as described by the author is horrendous…"And who among the company at Monsignor's reception in that seventeen hundred and eightieth year of our Lord, could possibly doubt, that a system rooted in a frizzled hangman, powdered and gold-laced, pumped, and white-silk stockinet, would see the very stars out!" (105). The deaths of seemingly worthless peasant-like lower-class citizens had no affect what so ever upon the wealthy. This created a strong and continual conflict between the two classes in France. The peasants rebelled against the aristocrats who had been oppressing them for so long, and afterwards France took a long time to recover. Darnay was arrested twice mainly because he was born basically a French aristocrat, and revolutionists wanted him killed. With the help of fellow characters, Darnay's conflict was resolved, but no doubt still stands an individual example of the larger external conflict of the Revolution. As well, once the actual...
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