A Tale of Two Cities


Write a summary about the revolution in regard to the novel.


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The French Revolution, which raged from 1789 to 1793, involved an overthrow of the aristocratic ruling order by the lower classes and was followed by a period of terror. The guillotine was used as a great equalizer, in that everyone from Queen Marie Antoinette to lowly peasants were beheaded by it. The Revolution at first garnered some support among radicals in England, creating a backlash among Conservatives, most notable in Edmund Burke's scathing Reflections on the Revolution in France. As the bloodshed became prolonged, support for the revolution waned in England, and a comparable social movement never started there.

When Dickens was writing A Tale of Two Cities, the French Revolution was still the most dramatic issue in the public's recent memory. The revolution involved contentious issues for Dickens, a political radical who believed in poor law reform and who campaigned for a more equal society. He vividly portrays the hunger of the French people and the brutality of the French aristocracy, embodied in the novel by the Evrémonde family, and he seems to justify the lower class's desire for a revolution. Yet, he just as dramatically illustrates the barbarity of the revolutionaries when they do rise to power.