Sunday, February 2, 2014


It seems to me that Charles Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities to show that all people are basically the same, regardless of their country of birth or social class. By that, I don't mean to say that all people are good; the novel has plenty of "bad" characters, such as (by the alignment system) the Marquis St. Evrémonde (Neutral Evil), Madame Defarge (Lawful Evil [I say "lawful" because I'm using the revolutionaries' cause, not the aristocrats', as a point of reference]), and Barsad (Chaotic Neutral). I guess what I really mean to say is that you can never use "always" to apply an alignment to all members of a specific country, caste, or job; every individual turns good or evil based on what's in their heart (wow that's cheesy), not their birth. This is why Charles Evrémonde (French aristocrat) turns out to be a stand-up guy, while his uncle (also a French aristocrat) is a total jerkface; and why Sydney Carton (an English lawyer) goes from being unsuccessful/lazy barrister to giving his life because of his love for Lucie, while Mr. Stryver (also an English lawyer) goes from being a successful barrister to... being a successful barrister (even though he also loves Lucie, he still fails to give a crap about anything). Even events can't be blamed for characters' good/evil tendencies; Doctor Manette was (arguably) harmed more personally/severely by the Marquis St. Evrémonde than Madame Defarge was (by my count, 18 years in the Bastille > sister's death), but he still manages to forgive Charles by allowing him to marry into his family, while Madame Defarge swears death on all the Evrémondes, including the perfectly innocent Lucie.

In one of our earlier lectures, I believe Dr. Preston said that during his life, Charles Dickens had the opportunity to observe almost all levels of the social hierarchy in England. My guess is that he saw hearts of gold as well as hearts of stone everywhere, not just concentrated in one group. To bring this message to more people, he wrote A Tale of Two Cities to contrast (or I guess a better wording would be to show similarities between) Londoners and Parisians, aristocrats and commoners, and haves and have-nots.

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