France And England In A Tale O


f Two Cities - The French Revolution
In the eighteen-fifties, Charles Dickens was concerned that social problems in England, particularly those relating to the condition of the poor, might provoke a mass reaction on the scale of the French Revolution. In a letter written in 1855, for example, he refers to the unrest of the time as follows:
I believe the discontent to be so much the worse for smouldering, instead of blazing openly, that it is extremely like the general mind of France before the breaking out of the first Revolution, and is in danger of being turned … into such a devil of a conflagration as never has been beheld since. (qtd. in I. Collins 42)
At the beginning of A Tale ...

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to be an 'evil' one, since he depicts both countries as rife with poverty, injustice, and violence due to the irresponsibility of the ruling elite (1-3; bk. 1, ch. 1). As the novel unfolds, however, England becomes a safe haven for those escaping the violence perpetrated by the French Revolution. In this paper, I shall argue that A Tale of Two Cities reflects the popular confidence in the stability of England in the eighteen-fifties, despite Dickens's suggestions at the beginning. A Tale of Two Cities thus becomes a novel about the England and the English of Dickens's time. And yet, many people today would believe that the novel is essentially about the French Revolution, which brings me to my second point. If in the nineteenth century the novel served to affirm the stability of Britain, in this century it has been greatly influential in the formation of the popular image of the French Revolution, mainly thanks to film and television adaptations. The purpose of this paper is ...

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towards the French Revolution in the eighteen-fifties. Dickens was not the first to draw attention to England's social and political problems by using the French Revolution as a point of reference. As David Lodge explains, several Victorian writers, particularly Thomas Carlyle, had used this "rhetorical strategy" to emphasise the severity of the condition of England (129). And yet, such a strategy would no longer impress itself on Dickens's readers in the eighteen-fifties, because mass demonstrations and riots of the previous decades, which were encouraged by reform movements like Chartism, and which worried writers like Carlyle and Dickens, had by this time become a spent force. In ...

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Added: 6/4/2004 03:42:27 PM
Category: Book Reports
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