How does memory operate in A Tale of Two Cities?I need to analyse the role of memory in this book, and how it constructs or deconstructs self-identity.Thank you. 

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malibrarian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The two characters I thought of when I read your question were Madame Defarge and Dr. Manette.  Both of these people were prisoners of their memories.

Madame Defarge lived her life, seeking revenge against the family who wronged her - the St. Evremonde family, even those who had nothing to do with the abuses against her.  But the horrible memories that haunted her controlled her daily existence until she died.

For Dr. Manette, memory is a tortuous reminder of the years he lost, kept in prison by the St. Evremonde brothers who hurt Madame Defarge's family.  There are times when a memory or reminder of something from the past is so painful, he completely reverts back to his days in prison and becomes like a feeble old man again.  When he learns that his future son-in-law is actually a member of that St. Evremonde family that caused his imprisonment, those memories cause him to act like he is in prison again, and even go back to using his cobbler bench as he did while in the Bastile.

Check the link below for more information about these and other characters from the book.  Good luck!


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A Tale of Two Cities

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