How might the narrative structure of Chapter 9 Book 2 in "Tale of Two Cities" be called circular? What effect does this structure have?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 9 begins with a description of the great stone chateau of the Everemondes, decorated with "stone balustrades...stone urns....stone faces of men".  It ends, having come full circle, with a view of the same edifice, with one symbolic stone face added - that of Monsieur the Marquis, whose murder signals the end of a dynasty and the beginning of the end of the old way of life.

The circular narrative structure allows Dickens to convey the spirit of an aristocracy which, based on the principle that "repression is the only lasting philosophy", has enjoyed "a luxurious age and country" for over two centuries, and to illustrate that it is about to be overthrown.  While it is the Marquis' objective to perpetuate "the honour of the family", even though he acknowledges that "a new philosophy has become the mode", the dynasty's only remaining heir, Charles Darnay, believes that the family "did a world of wrong, injuring every human creature who came between us and our pleasure", and has renounced his name.  Through his choice of narrative structure, Dickens shows that Revolution is near and a new order is about to take power.  Monsieur the Marquis, murdered in his bed, becomes another "stone face" for which (the building) had waited for...two hundred years".  He has become part of history, representative of the past and a time of aristocratic rule which very soon will be no more (Bk.2,Ch.9).

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A Tale of Two Cities

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