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Comment on the repeated symbol of blood in "A Tale of Two Cities".

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alvintran12 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted March 18, 2009 at 3:10 PM via web

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Comment on the repeated symbol of blood in "A Tale of Two Cities".

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 25, 2009 at 3:11 AM (Answer #1)

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Throughout this novel blood is one of the governing images. We first encounter this image where blood is used to describe aristocratic pedigree and bloodlines. Blood here is used as a symbol for nobility. Then we encounter blood in the startling image of the cask of wine breaking, which clearly foreshadows the violence to come:

...the wine was red wine... those who had been greedy with the staves of the cask, had acquired a tigerish smear about the mouth... The time was to come, when that wine too would be spilled on the street-stones, and when the stain of it would be red upon many there.

The wine here running over the streets of Paris therefore represents the carnage, slaughter and brutality that will run through Paris.

Towards the end of the novel we again see the symbol of blood with the 52 men lining up to be slaughtered because of their aristocratic bloodline. And of course, the image of blood is prevalent in the self-sacrifice of Sidney Carton at the end of the novel, echoing the sacrifice of Jesus for humanity. It is Carton's blood that is shed so that others may go free.

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