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A Tale of Two Cities

by Charles Dickens

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Why did Dickens use London as the setting of Tale of Two Cities?

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A Tale of Two Cities is an 1859 work by English writer Charles Dickens. It is a historical novel and is set in Paris and London before and during the French Revolution from 1757 to 1794.

At that time there were many similarities between Paris and London—both of their countries had an aristocracy, had weak leadership, and were suffering economically. However, in A Tale of Two Cities, by location-splitting, Dickens is able to contrast and highlight the differences between Paris and London. Whilst Paris was suffering from social unrest, mob violence, rape, murder, and executions, London, in very stark contrast, represents order, lawfulness, and safety. However, Dickens is still critical of London at this time and presents it as old-fashioned and conservative.

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