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Charles Dickens states the novel by analyzing injustice and the condition of the society. He is the great novelist of Victorian era. Charles Dickens was born on February 7th, 1812 in Landport division of Porsea, England. He was the second child and the oldest son of John and Elizabeth Dickens. During his childhood Charles Dickens lived in poverty. His fate become worse then since his father, John Dickens, was imprisoned for unsolved debt earthily was living in London and Dickens who twelve years old, went to work in a factory for making boot blacking. He bitterly presented having to leave school to do unskilled work from of this kind, feeling that he would never have the change of doing well in life. When he was fifteen, he become a clearly in a lawyer’s office. Dickens grew as an ambitions figure and he went on his own education, reading as much as he could he also taught himself shorthand and as the result he was soon as an expert shorthand writer. Such skill than led him become a reporter in the law contras, taking down the political speeches for newspaper. The real beginning of his career as author came in 1836. At the time he wrote the Pickwick Paper, which he developed and become his first novel Picwick. This was foundation of his career as an author until he succeeded creating a large number of novels: Oliver Twist (1837), Nicolas Nickleby (1838), The Old Curiosity Shop (1840), He Battles Life (1846), Hard Times (1854), Little Dorrit (1855), A Tale of Two Cities (1859) and so on. Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work. The theme of social injustice is strongly present in A Tale of Two Cities, as it is in many other of Dickens’s works.
THEME-- SOCIAL INJUSTICE:
Living in the society is not free from problems. Human being was created to face the problems. There are many problems that always present in the society. Injustice is one of the big problems that exist in the world. Injustice is the phenomena in the society. In the real life injustice can be seen in a society, the injustice varies such as the political injustice, economical injustice and social injustice. Social injustice is concept relating to the perceived unfairness or injustice of society in its division of rewards and burdens. Individual justice can be achieved by standing up for one’s beliefs and holding strongly to them. Social justice is a different case. Social justice is a workers strike for better
wages, a march for equality or something in that area. Social Justice is achieved by strength in numbers, and being relentless to achieve their cause. The concept is distinct from those justices in law, which may not be considered moral in practice. Opposition to social injustice is increasingly a platform of emerging political parties. Social injustice arises when equality treated unequally. The problem of the social injustice is phenomena of life that deals with condition of the society that perceived unfairness or the situation that peoples do not getting their due. Each time someone cheats you out of what you deserve, there has been injustice. Other people can treat you unjustly. But at least your tormentors normally are working in their own self-interest. They are not pretending to be fair, or to be working on your behalf. When your own government acts unjustly, it is all the more galling. The Injustice Line will focus mainly on injustices committed by the government, especially those arising from the court system. The condition above is appearing the problem of the social injustice. Meanwhile, in the literary works the author may take a certain world which then represents his ideas. An author, in his works can present a portrait of social, politic and economy during a particular time. When the literary work indicates a reflection or portrait, the characters in a fiction often indicated or reflect the presence of the similar social attitude to that in the society during their time. The portrait represented in a literary work show the relation between the social reality and the literature itself. Then, the author purposes it as real illustration or merely a caricature. Literature is reflection of social realities and condition of social being in the society. It means that literature cannot be free from the social issue around the society. In edition, literature is closely related to the sociology science that reflects the phenomena happening in the society. “Literature and sociology are not wholly distinct disciplines but on contrary, complement each other in our understanding of society”. (Laurenson and Swingewood, 1972: 20) Social and individual justice have some similar components, however they have aspects that vary. Charles Dickens exemplifies both of these types of justice thoroughly in his novel A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens, who had great sympathy for poor people, having known great poverty himself as a child, was naturally drawn towards the French Revolution, as a subject for a novel. In this novel he depicts with tremendous power and realism the sufferings of the poor, and the way in which aristocrats oppressed and abused them. He shows, with great insight, how ordinary men and women were driven by their suffering to become implacable murderers of the aristocracy. A Tale of Two Cities is a part of historical novel, the background of the novel is French Revolution. This novel narrates aspect of major historical event the French Revolution the story focused on the effect of political upheaval more than on character development.
A Tale of Two Cities related to the class struggle because those who feel the negative effects of social injustice begin to struggle against it. Dickens maintains a complex perspective on the French Revolution because although he did not particularly sympathize with the gruesome and often irrational results, he certainly sympathized with the unrest of the lower orders of society. Dickens vividly paints the aristocratic maltreatment of the lower classes, such as when Monseigneur only briefly stops to toss a coin toward the father of a child whom he has just run over. Because the situation in France was so dire, Dickens portrays the plight of the working class in England as rather difficult, though slightly less difficult than in other works such as Hard Times or Oliver Twist, which also emphasize social injustice. There is the element of the individual as well as the group seeking equality as the book goes through the rebellious times of the French Revolution. The French Revolution truly is the axis to which the justice in the book revolves. The peasants are in their constant struggle to overthrow the French government and seek the Guillotine as a measure of compensation. The peasant overthrow of the Bastille and the general French Revolution are the main examples of social justice. The general public felt they had been wronged by the aristocracy and therefore attacked them relentlessly. However, in this book there are better examples of justice achieved against or for an individual. The same day that the Bastille was taken the wealthy Foulon was also killed. As the reader, we see the initial reason that Foulon is targeted when Defarge asks the revolutionaries: “Does everybody here recall old Foulon, who told the famished people that they might eat grass and who died, and went to Hell?” (Dickens 202) After this we see the fate that happened to old Foulon. After Foulon died “his head was soon upon a pike, with grass enough in the mouth for all Saint Antoine to dance at the sight of” (Dickens 204). This is a prime example of justice because they got Foulon back with what he threatened to get them with. He threatened the people to eat grass, and they killed him and stuffed grass in his mouth. This is the epitome of an eye for an eye, revolution style. Madame Defarge is also trying to achieve justice throughout the novel. We find out near the end that she is the lost little sister of the brother and sister that the Evrémonde brothers killed. Because of this she is determined to get revenge on Darnay the son of one of the brothers. Her doggedness in finding the rest of the race is evident when she says, “Tell wind and fire where to stop; not me!” (Dickens 312) The idea that the she is more unstoppable than the inevitable elements is a scary thought, and shows the depth to which she seeks this justice.
Another example showing the justice in the novel A Tale of Two Cities deals with the character Monsieur the Marquis. In the chapter entitled “Monseigneur in Town” Monsieur the Marquis runs over and kills Gaspard’s child, and feels no remorse whatsoever about the incident. Later in the chapter “The Gorgon’s Head” justice is achieved when Gaspard goes and kills Monsieur the Marquis. The death of the Marquis was told to us indirectly by Dickens when he described how “The Gorgon had surveyed the building again in the night, and had added one stone face wanting; the stone face for which it had waited through about two hundred years” (116). The death of the Marquis was the quid pro quo exchange between Gaspard and the Marquis. The Marquis took the life of his child, and Gaspard took the life of the Marquis. But the most glaring and shocking example of social injustice in those times is the prolonged imprisonment of Dr. Manette. The document in which Dr. Manette has recorded the circumstances under which he was made a prisoner is hair-raising. It shows how much influence the members of aristocratic and titled families wielded in those days at the royal court and with the government ministers, and how ordinary people were victimized by them.
Throughout the novel A Tale of Two Cities justice was served. Their actions may have been a little severe, because of the fact that the only fair punishment at the time of the Revolution was death. The nature of justice as exemplified in the novel shows how justice can take many forms. It can be to avenge a family member, like in the case of Madame Defarge and Gaspard, or it could be to settle the score regarding something said or done. This proves that justice has changed throughout time, however, the fundamental aspects have remained the same, and the ultimate objective is to get back what you think is right and just.
“INSTITUTE OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE, UNIVERSITY OF SINDH, JAMSHORO”
Course: Fiction 1st Semester 2010
“Theme of SOCIAL INJUSTICE in A TALE OF TWO CITIES”
Submitted to: Madam Arifa Ansari
Submitted by: Kiran A .K. L M.A. (Hons.) Final Roll No. 53
Date Of Submission: 15th March, 2010
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