What are three important scenes in which Dickens used visual descriptions as symbols for some theme or idea and explain what they mean?in A Tale of Two Cities

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1.  In the very first chapter in A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens sets the scene for conditions both now and to come in both France and England.  He is quite descriptive, noting that the trees growing in France today would one day be shaped into the "terrible framework" known as the guillotine.  And the rustic carts of farmers would one day become the tumbrels of the Revolution, carting condemned prisoners to their deaths. Lots more.

2.  "In Book the Third," Chapter two, we have the image of the grindstone.  It employs every sensory image, but the sight of these blood-soaked peasants coming to sharpen their swords at a giant rock is depicted.  You can read the imagery for yourself; Dickens summarizes it this way:

But, such awful workers, and such awful work!

3.  This might not be on anyone else's list, but the very last chapter for me is the most moving visual of the text.  We ride with Sidney and the seamstress on their final journey, through dusty streets rutted by the wheels of cart after cart of condemned prisoners, crowds hurling insults at them.  They are each innocent of any crime, so their demeanors are somehow sweet and peaceful in the midst of this storm.  They look at one another, they kiss the most innocent kiss, and they are separated from the crowd and noise and blood and filth around them--set apart in their innocence.  This is the final visual, and for me the most impactful.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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