“A Tale Of Two Cities” By Dickens


Tales are fictional stories that normally tend to offer details concerning the way a given community is behaving or performing its duties. Various authors have developed specific ways of presenting their views. One of the good examples of such authors is Dickens, who is currently recognized as one of the writers whose tale has been acting as a reference for the stories that have been presented in the current world. Dickens’ “The Tale of Two Cities” is one of the most prominent works of this author that shows his perception of the French Revolution. During the French Revolution in 1789, Paris was the setting for Tale of Two Cities. This historical book was also written by Dickens as a warning to 18th-century England to ensure that they do not make the same mistakes again and to avoid taking advantage of the poor. The person presented all the details concerning the way of life and experiences that the people had passed through during her lifetime. It was clear that most of the things that were happening within the public could not please anyone as there lacked equal treatment of the people. The issue contributed to different classes of individuals within the society. Dickens demonstrates in A Tale of Two Cities how the French aristocracy’s exorbitant taxes, unfair laws, exploitation, and total disdain for the welfare of the poor, which was fueled wrath among the common people that eventually resulted in revolt.

Unjust Imprisonment/Treatment

Dickens’ “The Tale of Two Cities” depicts issues regarding the unjust imprisonment that was practiced in Latin countries. The characters of Dr. Mannette, Darnay, and the unnamed poor people in this story are examples of unjust treatment. An example of this is the action that was done to one of the characters who was regarded as Charles Darnay. According to the book, it is clear that the individual originated from French, and due to tribalism that was practiced in the region, the individual was then subjected to unjust imprisonment (Dickens, 2004). Charles was held in one of the cities, which was regarded as La Force, and was proclaimed guilty of being an aristocrat, although the individual had revoked the associated title before even revolution started in the region (Examiner, 1859). The above depicted the degree to which hypocrisy and brutality within the region were highly pronounced. To depict the act of imprisonment in the region as well as the way individuals were treated in the region, it was clear that the book elaborates on several people who were specifically served as prisoners yet were innocent. Most of such persons were specifically sentenced to death, an act that is normally considered as been inhuman.

Moreover, the way individuals were punished while in prison is addressed in the book. As far as such is concerned, it was clear that there was no equal treatment in taking people via trials, and the poor suffered from injustice. There were certainly underlying factors that dictated the way persons would be taken through trials (Sigot & Akdere, 2017). Looking at the case of Darnay, the elaboration on the way offenders have been treated in the courts could easily be drawn. Looking at the information that has been provided in the book, it has been noted that the courts stand for the disarray and inconsistency in both the French and English political systems. Many residents use the court as a place of entertainment where they may watch what happens to other people’s lives (Taylor, 2022). The delighted audience’s murmur at Charles Darnay’s first trial is described as the “buzzing of blue flies.” (Examiner, 1859). Dickens also critiques the legal system in the following passage: “Death is Nature’s remedy for all things, and why not Legislation’s? Accordingly, the forger was put to Death; the utterer of a bad note was put to Death; the unlawful opener of a letter was put to Death; the purloiner of forty shillings and sixpence was put to Death; the holder of a horse at Tellson’s door, who made off with it, was put to Death” (56). The legal system has shortcomings in that it cannot discriminate between serious and minor offenses, for which the death penalty is always the appropriate punishment (Dickens, 2004). Dickens makes a strong case for the necessity of the French Revolution; “Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms. Sow the same seed of rapacious license and oppression over again, and it will surely yield the same fruit according to its kind” (385). Following the argument that has been offered in the section above, it is clear unjust was also experienced in court as the individuals’ judgments depended on the kind of the individual presented in the court.

Power and Tyranny

As per the book, it was realized that there was an issue concerning violence as one of the societal issues that were entirely experienced in the region. Dickens shows the role of power and tyranny within French society through the characters of Aristocratic French, Marquis St. Evrémonde, and Madam Defarge. One example of unfair treatment is an action that was undertaken by one of the innocent souls of an individual who was known as Dr. Manatte. The above is a clear example of how people could be treated by others who are in power even though they were innocent. Next, the way individuals have been treated in the region concerns the way minors have been looked at while in society. A good example is an incident that happened to one of the characters in the novel, who was regarded as Bastille. It has been noted that Bastille was normally subjected to an act of brutality and hatred which was led by one of the embodiments of hatred and brutality who was known as Madame Defarge. It has been noted that Bastille was beheaded by Madame, and his head was stuck on a pole. The issue was then regarded as one of the issues that contributed to the aristocrats’ acts which attributed to the treatment of people in a way that showed there was no application of humane within the community. During then, people ended up being passed through a form of hardship as a result of the aristocracy that had been applied in the region. It was noted that the individuals who were not Latin were normally taken as the only persons who were responsible for any unlawful act within the society. Following such, the persons were in large numbers jailed, and during their imprisonment terms, they were subjected to all forms of hardship and torture, as it could be drawn from the book (Taylor, 2022). The issue could also be supported by the kind of life that Charles Darnay was subjected to, although there was no clear reason as to why the individual was sentenced.

Dickens also depicts the violence in social interactions in the scene where Charles Darnay is detained because of his ties to the aristocracy. The fact that Lucky had to witness her husband’s sentencing represents social injustice and hopelessness. Dickens also addresses the issue of those who are imprisoned for failing to pay their taxes (Taylor, 2022). Louis XVI put the laborers to work in the novel precisely as he did in real life, which causes them to be portrayed as people who endure terrible circumstances. The Father of Lucie, Doctor Manette, exemplifies the arduous working conditions in France. In the book, the lower class community is portrayed as being like the French nobility because of their long hours of labor and inability to support themselves. These circumstances lead to inequity and an unjust system in the novel (Dickens, 2004). People urgently want the ability to earn a living, and in the book, these demanding working conditions can be compared to slavery. Eventually, the public became unable to tolerate these circumstances and made an effort to fight slavery (Examiner, 1859). Dickens describes Charles Darnay’s friend, Monseigneur Evremonde. He causes harm to French citizens, even running over a young child in the street. Dickens highlighted how France Society started to lose its faith in Christianity; therefore, the religious approach may also be applied to the book. Dickens’s story thus raises issues regarding the harmony of religion and secular life in the French community.

Meanwhile, an idea concerning oppression was also witnessed in the book as there are various incidences whereby such practices could be evident. As per the book, it has been noted that Dickens is terrified by the ferocity of the French uprising that occurs anytime the society can no longer tolerate this oppression. He depicts the mayhem that results when French citizens band together to flee this existence (Patten, 2019). Dickens did a good job of describing how the revolution affected the social strata and social life. A vast number of people began to rush directly in the direction of the individuals they wished to eliminate. Even though the governing class’s hands were tied, these circumstances gave rise to the barbaric punishment known as the “guillotine.” Dickens also refers to this song in “All the Devouring and Insatiable Monsters” (367).

Besides all such, there was an idea regarding cruelty that was highly upheld within society, as it could be drawn from the book (Dickens et al., 2018). Based on such, Due to his association with the ruling class, Charles Darnay was arrested, found guilty, and put to death by guillotine during the French Revolution. This scenario illustrates the harshness of this punishment. As a result, anyone who opposes the reforms in France, especially upper-class people, will die; nevertheless, since revolutionists are so prevalent in the community, being accused of being a traitor is very likely. Thousands of royalists, aristocrats, and upper-class individuals are beheaded, along with some of the revolutionaries themselves. Additionally, the story depicts the perfect illustration of societal resistance as persons from every stratum of society flock to the Bastille, where many innocent prisoners are being held. Although the prison is secured by a lot of cannons that can defend and destroy the walls, the people still manage to siege the Bastille. Following all the points that have been offered in the section above, it could be noted that there was a certain variation in the way people are supposed to treat others in public which was brought about by the kind of life that the individuals had adopted. Such kind of behavior could thus be regarded as social challenges and issues that were witnessed in the entire region and could be evident in various characters within the book.


The third distinct theme that Dickens shows in his “The Tales of Two Cities” is sacrifice, shown through the stories of Sydney Carton, Dr. Manette, and Darnay. Dickens writes the following about Carton’s sacrifice: “For you, and any dear to you, I would do anything. If my career were of that better kind that there was any opportunity or capacity of sacrifice in it, I would embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you” (chapter 12). Sydney Carton’s choice to give his life as a sacrifice to save Lucie, Charles, and their family. The behaviors of the other characters fall within the secular meaning of “sacrifice,” which is when someone gives something up for good intentions. The Christian definition of sacrifice includes what Carton offered. According to Christianity, God offers up his son Jesus as a sacrifice to atone for humankind’s guilt. The hold that fate and history have on Charles, Lucie, Dr. Manette, and even, as the novel argues, the revolutionaries are broken by Carton’s sacrifice.

Dr. Manette gives up his freedom to uphold his moral character. Charles gives up his family’s money and legacy to live guilt-free in the wake of his family’s deplorable actions. Dickens makes the argument that, despite being difficult at the moment, sacrifice results in strength and happiness in the long run. For example, Dr. Manette states that “—any fancies, any reasons, any apprehensions, anything whatsoever, new or old, against the man she loved—the direct responsibility thereof not lying on his head—they should all be obliterated for her sake. She is everything to me; more to me than suffering, more to me than wrong, more to me—Well! This is idle talk.” (Dickens, 2004, p. 141). Due to his prior imprisonment in the Bastille, Dr. Manette is reunited with his daughter and rises to prominence during the French Revolution.

Charles Darnay renounces his family’s wealth and lineage to live guilt-free. Darnay was consequently compelled to renounce his Marquis title, his lands, and whatever inheritance he would have otherwise received. Darnay gave up all privileges after that since he believed that this was a small price to pay to sever all links to his wretched family finally. Darney’s sacrifice is shown in the following manner: “This property and France are lost to me,” said the nephew, sadly; “I renounce them. “I would abandon it and live otherwise and elsewhere. It is little to relinquish. What is it but a wilderness of misery and ruin?” (Dickens, 2004, chapter 9). This demonstrates Darnay’s traits because he is willing to lose France and his possessions and is confident in what he is doing. He feels strongly about this since he does not want to be connected to his family’s past.


In summary, it has been realized that various forms of aspects have been addressed in the article concerning the mode in which individuals have been treated in society. There was inequality that was embraced within the article. The issue has been shown using various examples that are easily identified within the article. Meanwhile, it is out of the reading that there is also another issue that depicts the stereotype form of the behavior that has become predominant within the region. The novel thus offers details concerning whatever has been happening and even whatever has been witnessed in the current social setting. Therefore, it also addresses issues that are even seen in society at large.


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Examiner. (1859). A tale of two cities. British Periodicals. p. 788.

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Taylor, L. (2022). A book review: A tale of two cities. Pikes Peak Library District. book review: a tale of two cities | pikes peak library district (ppld.org)