A Tale of Two Cities

Death as a Liberation in A Tale of Two Cities 11th Grade

Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is his first of two historical novels. Published in 1859, the book discusses the themes of resurrection, destiny, and concealment. Dickens’ novel both demonstrates his view of society, and contains historical facts surrounding the French Revolution. Throughout the novel, two viewpoints of the theme of death are evident: a negative as well as a positive perspective of death. In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens utilizes three widely different perspectives on death: the bloodthirsty craving for slaughter expressed by the revolutionary Madame Defarge, the physiological death resulting from Doctor Manette’s imprisonment, and the noble sacrifice of Sydney Carton, in order to demonstrate his view of death as a form of not only physical and emotional punishment, but also of liberation.

Dickens negatively portrays death as a horrendous act through Madame Defarge. She declares that, “For other crimes as tyrants and oppressors, I have this race a long time on my register, doomed to destruction and extermination” (Dickens 264). Madame Defarge obsesses over the destruction of the aristocrats, believing that their cruelty demands death. Furthermore, Dickens describes her sadistic tendencies: “She derived a...

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