Analyse how Dickens uses parallelism to state themes that might be developed in A Tale of Two Cities.The opening paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities is one of the most famous in all of English...

Analyse how Dickens uses parallelism to state themes that might be developed in A Tale of Two Cities.

The opening paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities is one of the most famous in all of English literature. It is an example of parallelism, the repeated use of words, phrases, or sentences that have similar grammatical form. Analyze how Dickens uses parallelism to state themes that might be developed in the novel. Point out some examples from Book the First that continue the development of themes introduced in the opening paragraph. Remember to include page numbers as you cite the examples.

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

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You are right in identifying parallelism as a major stylistic tool that is employed in this incredible novel. The main conflicts of the novel are referred to in the famous opening chapter, that draws our attentions to the strange dichotomy of the times:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair...

You might want to think how such opposition is created by the way that characters are matched against each other and also events repeat themselves. For example, Charles Darnay and Syndey Carter are doubles of each other, with Charles Darnay representing the goodness that Syndey Carter seems unable to find within himself until the final pages of the novel. Equally, both Dr. Manette and Madame Defarge are victims of the French aristocracy. Charles Darnay suffers two trials in the pages of the novel, one where he is charged as a traitor of Britain, the other when he is charged as a traitor of France. Lucie is opposed to Madame Defarge, who, towards the end of the novel, increasingly psychologically dominates her. And lastly, of course, lest we forget the title, this is a tale of two cities and how both effect each other. Doubles or matches abound in the novel, and parallelism is established as a manner of introducing conflict and highlighting themes.

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