Summarize A Tale of Two Cities in fewer than four sentences.
Influenced strongly by Thomas Carlysle's The French Revolution: A History, which told of the poor and oppressed of France and their revolt against a corrupt monarchy, Charles Dickens, a champion of the poor in England, who feared greatly the reactions of mobs, decided to write his monumental work, A Tale of Two Cities. Now, to truly summarize such a narrative as Dickens's book in four sentences is impossible. However, here are a few points to consider as you decide which are important enough for your "summary":
- There is a recurring pattern of resurrection imagery as Charles Darnay, a French emigrant, is saved from charges of treason by his double, Sydney Carton; Doctor Manette is "recalled to life," after having been incarcerated for 18 years; Mr. Lorry finds friendship and love after having been buried in the dark confines of Tellson's Bank; Sydney Carton redeems his dissipated life in his sacrifice for another.
- There are distinct parallels between Paris, France, and London, England as both cities have the poor and disenfranchised.
- Although Dickens sympathizes with the plight of the poor, he demonstrates his disapproval for the French people's violence and cruelty by illustrating in A Tale of Two Cities that problems of human suffering are not solved with political or economic systems. Instead, they are solved by the unselfishness and altruism of others, such as Lucie Manette, Charles Darnay, and Sydney Carton.
Charles Dickens's novel serves as a model for individuals who would improve the conditions of the poor and disenfranchised. No amount of revenge, no amount of bloodshed or autocracy will solve the problems for the peasants. Instead, it must come from the hearts of men. A Tale of Two Cities illustrates how "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
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