A Tale of Two Cities: the Idea

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Charles Dickens’ and his works are products of what’s referred to as the Victorian Era. Quite literally the time period lasting through the rain of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), it is often characterized by the height of the British Industrial Revolution. Authors of the period, Dickens’ in particular, discussed through there works social inequality and a sense of disgust with the shortcomings of class division. Dickens’, A Tale of Two Cities was no exception.

The idea for a Tale of Two Cities was derived from play in which Dickens’ himself was the heroin. The preface of the novel, as he describes, details the production of Wilkie Collins entitled The Frozen Deep. The play describes two men very much in love with the same woman. Ultimately one man, played by Dickens’, trades his life in effort to save his rivals. On a basic level, this is essentially the same story Dickens’ tells in A Tale of Two Cities.

Dickens’ novel, was published initially in series form in his own Literary Periodical, All Year Round. The story begins in 1775 just prior to the French Revolution. As the title suggests, The novel jumps fairly evenly between London, and Paris (Two Cities), taking time to describe the social atrocities of the time period. It must be noted that the historical substance provided in the novel was due largely in part to the work of Thomas Carlyle’s French Revolution. This was the primary, if not the only source Dickens’ referred to in maintaining the accuracy of the time period. It is from Carlyle’s exhaustive publication that Dickens’ is able to extract, and recreate many of the novels defining historical scenes. However the French Revolution in the novel “exits […]only insofar as Dickens’s characters vivify it, live through it, react to it and make its reality manifest to the reader”(Allingham) As suggested, Dickens’ did provide accurate historical context, the issues in there entirety, are more specifically discussed through the relationships of the...
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