The French Revolution In A Tale Of Two Cities By Charles John Huffam Dickens

1208 words - 5 pages

Charles John Huffam Dickens was one of the most critically acclaimed writers in the Victorian Period, and his works are still heavily appreciated in present times. Dickens added to his repertoire in 1859 with the publishing of A Tale of Two Cities, a novel centered around the French Revolution. Dickens is well known for generating his themes through critiques on current events and the characters’ actions. For example, in A Tale of Two Cities, sacrifice is a motif, or a recurring theme, that is developed through the actions of three seemingly ordinary, yet extraordinary, characters. Throughout the novel, Charles Dickens develops the theme of sacrifice through Madame Defarge, Miss Pross, and Sydney Carton.
Madame Defarge, an avid supporter of the French Revolution, is willing to sacrifice her life to avenge her family and to further the aim of the revolution. When she is just a young girl, Thérèse Defarge’s father and siblings are killed at the hands of the cruel Evrémonde brothers. Consequently, this tragic loss creates Madame Defarge’s hatred towards French nobles, and eventually, contributes to her leadership position in the French Revolution. The readers see that avenging her family through the death of the Evrémonde brothers is not enough, as the narrator describes, “It was nothing to her, that an innocent man was to die for the sins of his forefathers; she saw, not him, but them. It was nothing to her, that his wife was to be made a widow and his daughter an orphan; that was insufficient punishment, because they were her natural enemies and her prey, and as such had no right to live” (Dickens 281). Whilst her mission to exterminate Lucie and her daughter furthers her satisfaction for revenge, it also promotes the intentions of the French Revolution. She embarks on this murderous journey, ready to die a martyr in the name of the Republic and her family. When she arrives at the lodgings of Lucie Manette, Madame Defarge is faced by Miss Pross, the fervent housekeeper who is willing to do anything to save Lucie. These women engage in a brawl that is sure to end with a frightening death. Miss Pross wins the fight and kills Defarge with a bullet from Madame’s own gun, and the deceased Defarge is described as “the furious woman whose body lay lifeless on the ground” (287). Even in her lifeless state, this ardent revolutionary is still known for her furious and heated desire for revenge. Her unrivaled passion and loyalty to the cause of the revolution and her family that Dickens so skillfully portrays through her death is a quintessential element in the development of the theme sacrifice.
Miss Pross’s love for Lucie Manette is shown through her protective nature and motherlike sacrifices for the golden haired girl. Mrs. Manette dies when Lucie is still a child, leaving Lucie to be solely raised by her housekeeper Miss Pross, as Mr. Manette is imprisoned. Throughout Lucie’s life, Miss Pross is always by her side, and her dedication is described...

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