What does the event of the broken cask siginify?A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Charles Dickens was not the first Victorian writer to use rhetorical devices to draw parallels between what was happening to England with the French Revolution. Thomas Carlyle also used this rhetorical style to emphasize the severity of the condition of England.  In his opening lines to Chapter 5, Book the First of A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens makes dramatic comparisons. 

There, Dickens paints a metaphorical tableau of the bloodshed of the forthcoming revolution with the wine being symbolic of the bloodshed that will be shed with indiscriminate violence.  The frenzy of the people as they scramble for the wine, the "light-hearted, frolicsome embraces" as they drink mirrors the macabre delight that Violence and Madame DeFarge will later take in the bloody murders at the guillotine.  The stains of the wine upon the street foreshadow the blood stains on the streets of the Revolution:

The time was to come, when that wine too would be spilled on the street-stones, and when the stain of it would be red upon many there....But, the time was not come yet; and every wind that blew over France shook the rags of the scarecrows in vain, for the birds, fine of song and feather [symbolic for the aristocrats], took no warning.


rosebud2 | Student

The bloodshed of the revolution to come.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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