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Wesley Leal Ms.

Steed- 1st period AP Literature 9 March 2011 A Tale of Society The magnificence of Charles Dickens' novel, A Tale Of Two Cities, contains much of his social commentary. His comments span from the nature of man to the levels of society due to the presence of an unjust class system as portrayed by the author. Also, his characters represent characteristics facilitate the readers comprehension of Dickens' social comments. Madame Defarge is a prime example that through actions and words reveals Dickens' social comments on human nature. On the other hand, he also includes narrated passages on conditions of each level of society. These narrations also serve us to peer into Dickens' social beliefs as he renders a story dominated by point of view of the situation one hundred years before his time. The portrayal of Madame Defarge in this novel at the beginning does not spark in the mind of the reader that she may be filled with remorse. Her calm attitude shows how she was willing to wait patiently and with composure because she was sure something she believed in was going to happen, in this case the Revolution. We can take from her character that Dickens' believes it is in human nature to have strong beliefs and strong hope. The development of Madame Defarge later on in the story lets us see another aspect that Dickens believes in: vengeance. He lets us know this in her case when she said Nothing that we do, is done in vain. I believe, with all my soul, that we shall see the triumph. But even if not, even if I knew certainly not, show me the neck of an aristocrat and tyrant, and still I would- (Dickens 187). This passage gives s a look on Dickens' belief that humans act upon revenge because humanity is afraid of

having done something without seeing any result of their efforts. He believes that humanity does not want to see that they suffered in vain such as Madame Defarge stated it. This leads Dickens to comment of another aspect of human nature which is that people get what they deserve or that everyone has a destiny according to what they have done. His belief in this novel is demonstrated many times through various characters but a strong character to highlight is again Madame Defarge. As her husbands talks to her about how he hopes Darnay's Destiny will keep him out of France because death expects him there, his wife answers, Her husband's destiny,will take him where he is to go, and will lead him to the end that is to end him (Dickens 192). This statement shows Dickens' belief that destiny leads humanity to think people get what they deserve because he implements the belief on both of the vital characters in the novel. The fact that they make a decision based on their belief in destiny demonstrates Charles' comment of what human nature is like. He does not limit himself to take note of human nature solely because he also includes commentary on the levels of society of that time. Levels of society is abundantly commented upon in this novel due to its role as a key factor that cause the Revolution in France. Dickens comments upon the imbalance between the aristocracy of the time with the common people. He described the situation as two general levels, the wealthy and the poor. At that time period there was not much of a middle class therefore the wealthy took much advantage of the poor. Dickens lets us peer into such belief as he narrates, Of his pleasures...Monseigneur had the other truly noble idea, that the world was made for them (Dickens 110).This passage gives the reader a look on what Charles Dickens commented according to his view of society and how he saw a general belief in what dealt with the nobles of the time. He generalizes on his description of the higher class when he says the truly noble idea giving the reader the full effect of Charles' comment. On the other hand he also comments on the

extreme suffering that the poverty faced. The description found at the beginning of the chapter entitled The Wine-shop, gives us a imagery of the poor state of a particular poor suburb named Saint Antoine (Dickens 34). This description can let us see what these people had to endure because of the fact that they were poor. The fact that Dickens included such extremes as the very wealthy and the very poor serve to give the reader a view of how Dickens believed that there was injustice in the levels of society through his social commentary. In conclusion, Dickens comments on levels of society and their imbalance as well as the nature of humans shown by the narrations and characters he has included in this novel, A Tale Of Two Cities. In the case of the characters, his commentary about human nature is portrayed by the conversations they have such as Madame Defarge and her husband. Also with the narrations, he utilizes the imagery necessary to comment on the unjust levels of society. These characteristics make this novel a masterpiece because of the social content it possesses in relation to a historical event that occurred before his time. Many passages address in one way or another the social commentary of Charles Dickens which offers us a very close account of that historical event that had such a great impact in the two major cities of France and London.

Work Cited Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 2003. Print