A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Better Essays
Charles Dickens, the greatest novelist of the Victorian period, is well known for his skillful use of irony in moments of coincidence and chance within his stories. In one of his most famous books, A Tale of Two Cities, he showcases this skill by forming small connections between various characters throughout the story. These minute connections end up playing important, plot-twisting roles in the story. Dickens’ use of coincidence and chance weaves and enhances the plot, making readers consider how all of the precise details come into play as the plot thickens and shows that even the smallest detail can change a person’s fate. Dickens’ proficient use of irony through chance is shown through detailed character descriptions, the relationships between characters, and their intertwined histories. The coincidental resemblance between a lawyer’s assistant and a Frenchman accused of treason, ends up saving the life of an innocent man. Charles Darnay, a native Frenchman, has been making numerous trips between England and France, but cannot account for the work he has been doing. During Charles Darnay’s trial for treason, Sydney Carton, the assistant to Darnay’s lawyer, coincidentally notices a very similar resemblance between Charles and himself. Dickens writes, “They were sufficiently like each other to surprise, not only the witness, but everybody present, when they were thus brought into comparison” (Dickens 55). When everyone in the courthouse realizes the similarities between the men, and that Darnay has no distinguishing features to prove himself guilty, it becomes clear that the man accused for spying could have easily been another man, which saves the life of Charles Darnay. After a long conversation between the acquitted Charles... ... middle of paper ... ... detailed character descriptions, the relationships between characters, and their intertwined histories, Dickens conveys the idea of irony through coincidence and chance using exquisite details. By spreading these coincidences throughout the story, the reader has become so absorbed in other areas of the plot that one does not realize the large impacts these connections have on the story. These coincidences changed the fate of numerous characters, and created suspenseful situations within the book. Without the use of irony, there would not have been a foundation for many of the subplots within the story, such as the fate of Lucie Manette, Charles Darnay and their family. If one really looks at it closely, coincidences in life are far too common, and as they acquire over time, one’s mind begins to open to new possibilities, that these are more than random happenings.
Get Access