A Tale of Two Cities

Why do you think the author wrote this story?

Why do you think the author wrote this story? 

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Dickens got the germ of the idea for the novel from a play by Wilkie Collins called The Frozen Deep, in which he played the self-sacrificing hero. Dickens decided to transplant the emotive issue of self-sacrifice onto the time period of the French Revolution, and he modeled Sydney Carton after Collins's hero. To ensure that his novel would be as historically accurate as possible, Dickens pored over his friend Thomas Carlyle's classic history of the French Revolution.

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.