A Tale of Two Cities Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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What is the light and dark imagery in A Tale of Two Cities?

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Light and dark imagery is so pervasive in A Tale of Two Cities that it would almost be easier to list chapters where Dickens doesn't draw on the motif. In addition to the passages other responses have noted, however, we might also look to the first few sentences of the novel for clarification.

Dickens opens with the very famous line, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," followed by a chain of similarly paradoxical statements—including, "It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness" (Book 1, chapter 1). This, then, is a major clue as to how Dickens will use light and dark imagery throughout the rest of the novel: A Tale of Two Cities centers on pairs of opposites—London vs. Paris, Carton vs. Darnay, etc.—and Dickens will use light and darkness as a way of developing each of these pairings. This is likely most obvious in his treatment of Lucie and Madame Defarge, who are not only moral but physical opposites: Lucie's bright golden hair—a symbol of hope to...

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