In A Tale of Two Cities, what effect does Dickens achieve with personification in Chapter 5, Book the First?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I take it you are referring to the way that hunger is personified in this important chapter. You need to remember that this is the first time we are presented with the French citizenry, and Dickens is therefore keen to emphasise their povery and want. The way that hunger is personified and the way that the word "hunger" is repeated again and again emphasises the severe situation that the French peasantry face. Consider the following quote:

It was prevalent everywhere. Hunger was pushed out of the tall houses, in the wretched clothing that hung upon poles and lines; Hunger was patched into them with straw and rag and wood and paper; Hunger was repeated in every fragment of the small modicum of firewood that the man sawed off; Hunger stared down from the smokeless chimneys, and stared up from the filthy street that had no offal, among its refuse, of anything to eat.

Notice how hunger is personified as if it were a character in this scene, underlining its presence in the faces of the peasantry and the absence of basic essentials that clearly contributes towards the horrendous poverty. By underlining the hunger that the French peasantry face, Dickens clearly makes their uprising more understandable later on in the novel.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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