"A Tale of Two Cities": The Victorian Era and the Abandonment of Spirituality

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Joshua Wohlgemuth
A Tale of Two Cities: The Victorian Era and the Abandonment of Spirituality Throughout the early to mid 19th Century, a new and cultural age took hold of Europe, specifically Great Britain with the commencing of the Victorian Era. Marked by impressive achievements such as the Industrial Revolution, La Belle Epoque, and the beginnings of an urban middle class, this era was also plagued with child labor, poor hygiene, prostitution, the constant class distinctions, and a bloody revolution. Many believe that the aforementioned events were caused by a distancing of the populous from the church, resulting in a lack of spirituality, while others maintain that this spiritual vacuum was a response to deteriorating conditions. Regardless, it is undeniable that a spiritual void occurred during the Victorian Era, and Charles Dickens seemingly upholds this premise throughout A Tale of Two Cities, shown within the relationships between the complex to the most insignificant characters. Dickens’ book immediately opens by introducing us to two countries that have forgotten the essence of spirituality. The religious environment presented in France serves as an illustration that piety was not going to be the central theme in the story: France, less favoured on the whole as to matters spiritual than her sister… entertained herself with such humane achievements as sentencing a youth to have his hands cut off, his tongue ripped out with pincers, and his body burned alive, because he had not kneeled down in the rain to do honour to a dirty procession monks which passed within his view, at a distance of some fifty or sixty yards (Dickens 4). It is apparent that Dickens is upset that such transgressions in the name of spirituality were occurring and furthermore, that the aforesaid behavior was contributing to a cultural abandonment of spirituality. This phenomenon was widespread and “in [places like] England, there was scarcely an amount of order…[where] daring...
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