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A Tale of Two Cities: Parallels in Characters, Classes, and Events

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A Tale of Two Cities: Parallels in Characters, Classes, and Events

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  • April 23, 2009
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Charles Dickens utilizes doubles and contrasts to enhance the plot of Dickens uses parallels in characters, social classes, and events that compliment each other to strengthen the plot. Its themes of violence in revolutionaries, resurrection, and sacrifice also help support the story.

Primarily, the characters in the book are foils for each other. One example is Lucie Manette and Madame Defarge. Lucie is a very gentle and loving woman. Everything that she does shows her kindness and virtue. Her tenderness and adoration for everyone empowers her to unite the family. For instance, when Lucie's father was in a horrible state of depression, the only cure for his sadness was the sight of Lucie's face and the touch of her skin. On the other hand, Madame Defarge is a cruel and fanatical revolutionary. She makes notes in her mental "register" of everyone she decides should be executed. She feels that every heir of the Evrémond family, (Charles Darnay's family) should be exterminated. After Darnay is released from prison, Madame Defarge reports him to the authorities because of the cruel mistreatment of peasants that his uncle commits, even though Charles strongly disagrees with his uncle's choices. Each of their personalities are so extreme, that they both are foils for each other's characteristics. Another foil in characters, is Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton. Darnay is an heir to an aristocratic family. He displays exemplary honesty and great virtue. For example, Darnay made a commitment to Lucie's father that he would reveal to him his true identity (heir to the very cruel Evrémond family). Carton, however, is the extreme opposite. He is an unmannerly, unenthusiastic, drunken attorney. His love for Lucie Manette occupies most of his thoughts. However, he has a revolution within himself and transforms from a simple person with no prospects into an honorable hero. When Sydney Carton dies, his sacrifice is meant to give Lucie, Charles, and even Carton a better life....