Charles Dickens 's A Tale Of Two Cities Essay

Charles Dickens 's A Tale Of Two Cities Essay

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Bellamy’s notion of ‘character’ centres on an individual’s ability to rise above their current situation in order to attain liberal autonomy. This does not mean having absolute right to pursue purely personal desires; it means acquiring social and political independence through determination and ‘force of will’. This theory of liberalism underpinned social reforms in the Victorian era and Charles Dickens’s considers these concepts and ideals in his novel, A Tale of Two Cities, through the doubling of character and place, and personification of abstract ideas.
The Victorian ideal of femininity was conceptualised in the angel of the house. Lucie Manette embodies this in “her trust, her kindness . . . [and] willing self-sacrifice” (Robson 29) that enables the rescue of her father from the brink of madness. Dickens frequently symbolises Lucie as a golden thread. She is “the golden thread that united [her father] to a Past beyond his misery” (116) and is “Ever busily winding the golden thread that [binds] them all together” (289). This image of purity and strength is furthered by her golden hair, so like that of her mother’s which Manette kept bound in “a scrap of folded rag” (71) during his imprisonment. Lucie demonstrates determination in the way she maintains a decent living for them all in Paris, while Charles is held prisoner, and in being there for her husband “in all weathers . . . [so] that he could and did see her when the chances served” (381). Although Dickens’s characterisation endorses the Victorian gender norm of domesticity, the force of will Lucie exhibits in saving the men in her life preserves their family and makes Lucie the ideal woman for her time. She also manifests an optimistic alternative to the “violence and i...


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...own working class who were beginning to show their dissatisfaction through strikes. Although the title refers to the novel’s settings of London and Paris, there is another doubling in the changing state of France embodied by St Antoine. From a place ruled by individual tyranny she will rise as a Republic, out of which comes the hope that, like the seamstress’s cousin “she may live a long time: she may even live to be old” (509).
Dickens’s extreme positioning of Lucie and Madame Defarge embodies the social order of the novel. Although striving for different outcomes they rise above their own desires and adhere to the notion of family and the betterment of everyone. They act independently of each other, but through this feminist individuality, they demonstrate what Bellamy describes as the “social and historically contingent character of socialism” (Liberalism n.pag).

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