What are some symbols from the Paris and London sections of A Tale of Two Cities?I need help identifying five symbols from Paris section and five symbols from London section and what the symbols...

What are some symbols from the Paris and London sections of A Tale of Two Cities?

I need help identifying five symbols from Paris section and five symbols from London section and what the symbols mean. There can be symbols that are the same for both sections, but no more than two please. This information will help a lot on my poster board project.

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Symbols are wonderful literary devices because not only do they bring to life for the author significant meanings with their imagery, but they can also extend their meanings in other areas. For instance, the symbol of the "Echoing footsteps" that Lucie hears at her home in Soho in London, England, means the number of people who will come into her life later.  At the same time, this symbol also means the marching of the peasants as they storm the Paris prison, the Bastille, on July 14, 1789, the date marked as the beginning of the French Revolution.

  •  Paris symbols:

the wine-casket - this spills in Saint-Antoine, symbolizing the forthcoming blood lust of the peasant/revolutionaries as well as the bloodshed of the French aristocrats.

red - bonnets rouges, or the red hats of the Jacques of the revolution, symbolize blood.  Interestingly, on his last night of life, the sun sets red for the Marquis d'Evredmonde, who remarks, "It will die out directly." 

the gorgon -  a grotesque carving that after his death assumes the two dents in the nose characteristic of the Marquis d'Evremonde.  Made of stone, the gorgon also symbolizes the insensitivity and cruelty of the Marquis who with sang-froid throws a coin to pay for the insignificant death of the peasant boy that his carriage has killed.

the monseigneur [a parallel symbol to the lion]  - symbolic of the seigneurs, the wealthy aritstocratic landowners who had others do any and all labor involved on their property and within their chateaux.  The monseigneur has become so effete from having done nothing physical for generations that in Chapter 7. Bk.2, he must have several servants attend him in the morning as he attempts to drink his chocolate.

the knitting of Madame Defarge - the incessant and implacable weaving of the names of aristocrats onto a death list is symbolic of the seemingly immutable fate of those named to die by the revolutionaries.  It also symbolizes the personality of Mme. Defarge who has no intention of turning back from her plan of revenge.

Loadstone Rock - symbolic of the magnetic pull felt by sailors, Darnay receives a letter from Gabelle which pulls him to Paris.

  •  London symbols:

the lion [a parallel symbol to the monseigneur] -a symbol for C. J. Stryver, who is not capable of sifting through all the legal briefs, etc, and organizing his case that he must exploit the genius and talents of his dissolute partner, Sydney Carton.

the jackal [a parallel to John Basard/Roger Cly/Solomon Pross -  who is a double-spy and is used by the English and French to sneak and obtain information. ]- A symbol attached to Sydney Carton who does all the work for Stryver, but receives none of the glory.  Like the jackal from whom the lion steals, Carton's brillance is stolen by Stryver.

the golden thread - a symbol (this symbol connects both Paris and London, too)for Lucie Manette, who awakens the memory of her father with her blond hair that is like the blond hairs he has cherished from the head of his wife, Lucie's mother.  Lucie acts as a thread that connects the male characters to her, giving her the only identity she has.

resurrection man - [a parallel to Dr. Manette's becoming a resurrected man, brought back to the world from imprisonment, and to Carton's being a resurrection man, given spiritual life with his sacrificial death.

the night shadows - In Chapter 3, Dickens reflects upon how little humans know of each other as evinced in many of the characters.


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A Tale of Two Cities

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