Charles Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities

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Orison Swett Marden, an author known for his works in philosophy once wrote, “You will be modified, shaped, molded by your surroundings, by the character of the people with whom you come in contact”. Using these words, Marden summarizes what factors influence humans and shape how they turn out. A similar scenario appears in Charles Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities, where two characters are initially driven by their love for different people, but soon turn into complete opposites. Madame DeFarge, fueled by love, turns evil, while Sydney Carton, a lazy alcoholic, takes charge of his life after being motivated by love. The factor that separates their paths is their surroundings: Madame DeFarge lives in France, while Sydney Carton resides in England. Although their stories both begin with love, Madame DeFarge and Sydney Carton develop in opposite ways due to differences in their surroundings ;ultimately suggesting that Dickens argues for England’s superiority over France because of how Carton’s surroundings improve him, while Mme. Defarge’s surroundings encourage her brutality.

Love is initially a big motivator for both Madame Defarge and Mr. Carton’s actions because of its impact on their lives, however, their surroundings and the revolution are prominent in defining them. Around the end of the book, Madame Defarge reveals that her family had been mistreated by the Evrémonde brothers because they killed her sister and her little brother (3.12.351-352). Madame DeFarge finishes her sentence by saying, “tell the Wind and Fire to stop, but don’t tell me” (3.12.352). She is angry at the Evrémonde brothers because the family that she loved so much was killed by them, but at the end of her sentence, her tone indicates an emotio...

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...reason Carton is able to let go of his laziness. It is their surroundings that make the difference even though they start at love. Madame DeFarge witnesses constant brutality and transforms herself into an angry and vengeful woman because she is living in the heart of the French revolution, where brutality is accepted. In contrast, Carton is surrounded by benign people in the relatively calm England, where he learns to add meaning to his life. Dickens uses Madame DeFarge’s sinking into the abyss as a way to argue that France was not as good as England. In addition, using the judicial system comparison and the fact that Carton not only improved his life, but became the hero of the novel because of how England and its people shaped him, Dickens heavily leans towards England being more superior to France.

Works Cited

A Tale of Two Cities- Charles Dickens

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