Liberalism In Charles Dickens's A Tale Of Two Cities

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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
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The patterns of damnation knitted by Madame Defarge echo Lucie’s golden threads in their binding of prisoners to their fate. Her desire for revolution and revenge is so strong that Madame Defarge has little compassion for anyone else. Lucie’s appeals to this “sister-woman” (368) are ignored as, having seen “her sister-woman suffer” (369), Madame Defarge does not consider “it likely that the trouble of one wife and mother would” (369) mean much. This doubling of sister-woman reiterates the fact that Madame Defarge is acting out of revenge for her dead sister, which gives her the strength and will to fight. Vengeance, although the “complimentary name” (305) for another personifies the spirit of the revolution and reveals the darker side of Madame Defarge in her belief that women “can kill as well as the men” ((296) and wielding of “her cruel knife” (302). Madame Defarge may represent the increasing power of women yet, by her actions, loses all sense of feminine domesticity. This heightens the contrast between her and Lucie and shows her to be a corrupt version of Lucie’s
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