In book one, what is a conflict in man vs. nature?

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter Two of Book One of A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens creates a man versus nature conflict in his portrayal of the stage-coach's difficulty traversing the muddy road to Dover. 

"He walked uphill in the mire by the side of the mail, as the rest of the passengers did; not because they had the least relish for walking exercise under the circumstances, but because the hill, and the harness, and the mud, and the mail were all so heavy, that the horses had three times already come to a stop, besides once drawing the coach across the road, with the mutinous intent of taking it back to Blackheath" (Ch. 2).

Here, the narrator identifies the difficulty of the road as being the thick mud that slowed the horses' ascent up the hill, making the passengers have to get out and walk beside the coach.   Dickens portrays the treacherous quality of the road through his use of detail and imagery, further emphasizing the conflict of man versus nature to illustrate the difficulty of travel on muddy unkept roads. 

"With drooping heads and tremulous tails, they mashed their way through the thick mud, floundering and stumbling between-whiles as if they were falling to pieces at the larger joints. As often as the driver rested them and brought them to a stand with a wary “Wo-ho! so-ho‚ then!” the near leader violently shook his head and everything upon it—like an unusually emphatic horse, denying that the coach could be got up the hill" (Ch. 2).

The struggle of the driver to move the horses pulling the coach and  through the thick muddy road exemplifies the struggle between man versus nature. 


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A Tale of Two Cities

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