"A Tale of Two Cities" is the second and last historical novel by Dickens, which consists of three books. The first tells a story of the return to life of Dr. Manette, who spent many years in solitary confinement in the Bastille. Bank employee, Mr. Lorry and Lucie Manette, daughter of Dr., take him away from Paris to London.
The second book begins with a story about the trial of Charles Darnay and his deliverance from death. Soon Lucy marries him, and the family has a quiet and spiritual life. In France, meanwhile, revolutionary storm is brewing. Father and uncle of Darnay - French aristocrats exploiters, with whom Charles does not want to have anything to do, - are precisely the ones to blame for Dr. Manette going to the Bastille for no reason. When the French Revolution starts, with his uncle it is straightened. Darnay goes to the raging France to fetch the manager, who was in the hands of the rebels. However, brutalized people capture him as well. Darnay is among those who have become victims of revolutionary terror.
The third book is the climax and resolution of storylines. Dr. Manette, Lucie and Carton are also sent to Paris to try all possible ways to save Darnay. But their efforts are futile. On the eve of the execution, family friend Sydney Carton, sacrificing himself for the sake of his beloved Lucy and child substitutes in the chamber Darnay and goes to the scaffold, supporting the mental strength of the girl, accidentally falling into the general grinder (Dickens 16).
Dickens does not accept any inhuman exploitation or revolutionary atrocities that it causes. He makes the reader shudder from both. Bearers of the Christian humanism, which is opposed to the two social forces, are in some sense, all the main characters: Mr. Lorry, Dr. Manette and his daughter, Darnay, Carton and maid Miss Pross. Charity and sacrifice are the cardinal virtues, which were relevant for Dickens.
According to the story, in London, 1775, elderly bank employee Jarvis Lorry reports 17-year-old Lucie Manette that her father did not die (as she thought), but from the moment of her birth was kept in the Bastille for slander evil Marquis Evremonde. Now he was released and lives in Paris with his former servant, Defarge. Lorry and Lucie go to France to take away the unhappy home (Hutter 448).
In London's Old Bailey, there is judge French emigre Charles Darnay. Lawyer Sydney Carton cleverly manages to convince the court of his innocence. Freed, Darnay found in Paris her uncle - Marquis Evremonde, irritating him with his sympathy for the "humiliated and insulted". At night Evremonde is stabbed by a citizen, the son of whom he crushed with his coach.
Between Darnay and Lucy arises the feeling and the young man asks her hand from Doctor Manette. He admits that Darnay is not his real name, that he actually is Evremonde - the closest relative of the man who doomed doctor to a 20-year imprisonment. Doctor gives his consent to the marriage, but sinks into madness.
In 1789, Defarge spouses among the first burst into the hated Bastille. Virtuous Darnay, who lives in London with Lucy, receives a letter from Paris, where his elderly harmless servant, got court-martialed, conjures for help. Barely Darnay steps on French soil, as he is detained as a fugitive aristocrat and escorted to jail Lafors. Darnay-Manette family in full force rushes to his rescue.
Three months are awaiting trial over Darnay. During the process of giving evidence against him Madame Defarge. As a confirmation of all crimes of Evremondes, she presents notes of unknown created by him in the Bastille. This unknown is the father of Lucy. Despite his intervention in defense-in-law, inspired by these atrocities Evremonde revolutionary tribunal sentenced to death Darnay by the guillotine.
Lawyer Carton that is unrequitedly in love with Lucy manages to overhear the conversation of Madame Defarge, in which she reveals the true reason for her hatred of Evremondes. Many years ago, the late Evremonde raped her sister in love with Dr. Manette, and imprisoned him in the Bastille. Her family was doomed to be destroyed, and she survived only by a miracle (Joshi 50).
Carton warns Lucy and her family about the urgent need to leave France, because the next victim of Madame Defarge family will be the last of the Evremondes, that is, Lucy herself and her children. By means of blackmail, he gets access to the room of Darnay and changes clothes with him. Since they are very similar in appearance, Darnay seamlessly manages to escape from prison and from Paris and Carton the next day instead goes to the guillotine.
The idea of "A Tale of Two Cities" came to Dickens during the performance of the play by Wilkie Collins of role of a man who sacrifices himself for the happiness of his beloved and dear to her heart men (Maglavera 85). With this story, which had parallels in the life of Dickens, contacted the thought of the French Revolution, gleaned while reading a history book Carlyle - writer whom Dickens adored and studied.
What is characteristic of mature Dickens, is action-packed design allowing it to identify the thread running through the whole of society, and to hold the reader's eyes to the representatives of different social classes. The legal profession, as always, implies a dramatic descriptions of trials. Religious motifs return to life, forgiveness and self-sacrifice are reflected in a string of imaginative antitheses and oppositions. For example, spreads on Parisian street of broken wine barrels portends a river of blood.
End of Dickens' literary activity was marked by a number of excellent works. The novel "Little Dorrit" (1855-1857) is replaced by the famous "A Tale of Two Cities" (1859), a historical novel Dickens dedicated to the French Revolution. Dickens recoiled from it as from the madness. It was quite in keeping with the whole of his world, and, nevertheless, he was able to create in his own immortal book.
This time also includes "Great Expectations" (1860) - an autobiographical novel. Its hero - Pip - torn between the desire to preserve philistine comfort, stay true to its middle peasant status and desire to shine up, luxury and wealth. Many of his own throwing, his own longing invested in this novel Dickens. The original plan was to novel end lamentably, while Dickens always avoided the heavy end of his works and his own good nature, and knowing the tastes of his audience. For the same reasons he decided not to finish the "Great Expectations" complete their downfall. But the whole concept of the novel clearly leads to such an end.
At the height of his creativity rises again Dickens in his swan song - a large canvas "Our Mutual Friend" (1864). But this work is written as if the desire to take a break from intense social order. Brilliantly conceived, crowded most unexpected types, all sparkling wit - from irony to touching humor - this novel should, according to the author, be gentle, sweet, funny. Tragic his characters displayed as if just for a change, and largely in the background. Everything ends perfectly. Themselves villains are then putting on a mask over villainous, something so small and ridiculous that we are ready to forgive them their treacherously something so miserable that they excite pity rather than anger sharp.
In this his last work, Dickens gathered all the strength of his humor, shading wonderful, funny, nice images from this idyll had overwhelmed him melancholy. Apparently, however, this melancholy was re-pour upon us in a detective novel, Dickens' The Mystery of Edwin Drood. This novel started with great skill, but where it would lead and what was his plan, we do not know, because the work remained unfinished. June 9, 1870 Dickens, not old in years but enormous difficulty, rather chaotic life and a variety of all sorts of trouble, dies at Gads Hill Place stroke.
Dickens, Charles. A tale of two cities. Penguin, 2000.
Hutter, Albert D. "Nation and Generation in A Tale of Two Cities." Publications of the Modern Language Association of America (1978): 448-462.
Joshi, Priti. "Mutiny Echoes: India, Britons, and Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities." Nineteenth-Century Literature 62.1 (2007): 48-87.
Maglavera, Soultana. Time patterns in later Dickens: a study of the thematic implications of the temporal organization of Bleak House, Hard Times, Little Dorrit, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations and Our Mutual Friend. Vol. 94. Rodopi, 1994.