Tale of Two Cites: Drowning Motif

Topics: A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens, French Revolution Pages: 4 (1495 words) Published: November 19, 2012
English 12u Essay Rough Draft Justina Van Maren
Splashing, gasping for breath. Sinking, darkness, and then; death. Death by drowning is, in the beginning, a conscious, agonizing end. The realization of an imminent death is the first step that strikes fear into the heart of the victim. Shore is too far away, the person is too tired, and if rescue is not near, death is inescapable. Contrary to popular understanding, a drowning person is not easy to spot. People picture a drowning victim screaming or calling for help, but in actuality all his/her efforts are used to breathe, making calls for help impossible. Drowning is not the death most people envision it. It is a silent killer. Creeping up slowly, it takes its victims by surprise, and often before five minutes have passed, death has them in its cold, cruel clutches. This silent action is paralleled in Charles Dickens novel, A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens speaks of a woodman, personified as fate, and a farmer, who is used to picture death, working silently but purposefully towards the French Revolution, getting ready wood for scaffolds, guillotines and tumbrels. As well as portraying the silent nature of drowning, Dickens also uses this motif to bring out another aspect of the revolution. In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens uses the motif of drowning to portray the stages of the revolutionaries’ attitudes towards their condition.

“The first step towards getting helped is realizing that you have a problem.” (Anonymous) This well known quote clearly illustrates the first step of drowning. A man cannot save himself if he does not realize that he is in danger. When drowning becomes reality to its victims, their whole vision changes, and panic sets in. In A Tale of Two Cities, the peasant’s vision changed as they realized that if they did not act right away, they would die as victims of a tyrannical system. If this fact in itself did not move the peasants into action, it was the fact that not only...
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