Dr Tony Williams

There is, of course, a third city involved, and it is Manchester.

Dickens tells us in his Preface to the first volume edition of A Tale of Two Cities (1859) that he 'first conceived the main idea of this story' whilst acting 'with my children and friends in Mr Wilkie Collins's drama of The Frozen Deep'. It is this element which gives the novel great personal significance for Dickens, and we might usefully reflect on that for a moment or two. In the Preface he continues: 'As the idea became familiar to me, it gradually shaped itself into its present form. Throughout its execution, it has had complete possession of me; I have so far verified what is done and suffered in these pages, as that I have certainly done and suffered it all myself.'

It is that final sentence which underlines for us the personal intensity in this powerful and compelling work, an aspect to which we shall return later.

In 1857 he had assisted his friend and fellow novelist Wilkie Collins in writing a play called The Frozen Deep, and putting it on as an amateur production at his home in Tavistock Square (now BMA Headquarters) where a room had been specially designed to hold amateur theatricals. Dickens himself played Richard Wardour, the flawed but ultimately noble hero who sacrifices himself in favour of his friend Aldersley's survival to be with the woman they both love. It was a play partly inspired by the 1845 Franklin expedition to the Arctic to try to find the North West Passage, in which all its members perished and there had been some suggestion of cannibalism It is a plot line to which he returns in A Tale of Two Cities, with the triangle of Lucie, Darnay, Carton. Later that year, the production was to be presented in Manchester and Dickens felt that public performance should not be done by friends and family, but that professional players should be engaged. It was by this means he met a theatrical family, the Ternans, and particularly Mrs Ternan's daughter Ellen, with whom he fell in love, and as a result of which he separated from his wife the following year. Ellen played a minor part in The Frozen Deep, called Lucy. When he creates Lucie in A Tale of Two

Cities he gives her some of Ellen's appearance, and that final e .
Sydney Carton is a particularly interesting piece of character creation: the talented wastrel who sacrifices himself for love, so that the woman he wants may live her life happily with her husband. Dickens wrote 'I must say I like my Carton. And I have a faint idea sometimes, that if I acted him, I could have done something with his life and death.' When planning the novel and naming the characters, he originally thought of naming Carton Dick rather than Sydney. Dick would be an echo of Richard Wardour in The Frozen Deep, of course, and the parallelism in the sets of initials (Charles Darnay and Dick Carton: CD - DC)

and then to the USA. Notwithstanding Manchester's place in the history of the conception of the novel . without that magic lantern..' It was a place of wretchedness and darkness. he also acknowledged how important it was to his creative processes. and perhaps he felt that this was all coming rather too close to home. In November he started to wind up Household Words and separate from Bradbury and Evans. But the toil and labour of writing. London and Paris. famously said that Dickens described London 'like a special correspondent for posterity': . in a review of Dickens's work in 1858. having been serialised in monthly parts between 1855 and 1857. at this point of great crisis for him. then provincial UK tours. he wrote to Forster about the difficulties he was experiencing with his writing ofDombey and Son. In May 1858 he separated from Catherine. This created a new relationship with his readers and he became' the greatest reader of the greatest writer of the age'. Dickens's acquaintance with London began when as a ten year-old boy he was brought there as the result of a work-induced move by his father. the two principal cities are. In April 1859 All the Year Round wasestablished as its successor with Dickens owning 75% and W H Wills 25%. of course. chapters 1-3 of A Tale of Two Cities were published in this new journal. Early privation and suffering in these years is well-documented and the young Charles Dickens saw on his wanderings through the metropolis many disturbing and unsettling sights. A day in London sets me up again and starts me. is IMMENSE!!' Walter Bagehot. he began presenting Public Readings for profit as distinct from readings for charitable purposes (which he also continued to do). his publishers. On 30 August 1846. from Bow to Brentford. 'Doubleness' is a massive issue for him at this time.would have further underlined the 'doubleness' in the two male leads of the novel. In April 1858. but also a place of great fascination. day after day. of course. The Frozen Deep was performed. whereas Household Words had been shared with publishers Bradbury and Evans. Whilst he was later in adulthood to describe it as 'a vile place' (letter to Bulwer Lytton in February 1851). in 'the absence of streets. and in June 1858 proclaimed this separation publicly as 'some domestic trouble of mine'. His experiences gave him an 'extensive and peculiar' knowledge of the city and it was later said of him that 'he knew it all. It will be helpful to recall the events in Dickens's life at this time: In 1857. leading to Dickensmeeting Ellen Ternan and falling in love. Little Dorrit was published in volume form. his marriage was on very unstable ground at this time. But the initials are his own. which were to haunt him for years. to whom he had been married since 1836. Seasons in London. followed from now on to the end of his life.. On 30 April 1859.

London is like a newspaper.800. and every person I passed. is a separate alertness of observation that is observable in those who live by it. as novelty. and everything is disconnected. At the end of A Tale of Two Cities. its secret character no less than that which is on its surface. and he does not care to piece them together. where the Place de la Concorde is constructed on the site of the Bastille. at times renting apartments for significantly lengthy stays: November 1846 to February 1847. its perfectly distinct and separate character. a labyrinth. backwards and forwards --during the two days we were there. My eyes ached and my head grew giddy. each scene. nothing but strange and striking things. marriages. to his mind. The 1850s and 1860s were to see significant changes to the physical appearance of Paris as a result of the reconstruction work undertaken by the Prefect of the Seine. which swept away much of the old city which Dickens reconstructs in his picture of pre-revolutionary and revolutionary Paris in this novel.' Paris was then a city of some 900. I cannot conceive any place so perfectly and wonderfully expressive of its own character. the prison city of Little Dorrit. came swarming before me. the city of dustheaps and destructive river in Our Mutual Friend.' As we change from the broad leader to the squalid police-report. It is the most extraordinary place in the World. a maze. It expanded to over 1. I was not prepared for. wildly.'Mr Dickens's genius is especially suited to the delineation of city life. apartment blocks.' Dickens though. and never coming any nearer the end. This is advantageous to Mr Dickens's genius. He describes London like a special correspondent for posterity. and really could not have believed in. had been replaced by planned urban development. but lacked the sprawling and uncontrolled nature of London. The narrow streets and tall houses which creating rabbit-warrens of poverty and squalor very like parts of London with which he was familiar. and almost every house. as Paris is. novelty. There is every kind of person in some houses. we pass a corner and we are in a changed world. novelty. I walked about the streets--in and out. He visited in January 1863 when . everything is there.000 by the late 1860s. but there is no more connection between the houses than between the neighbours in the lists of 'births. grand boulevards and parks. On the contrary.000 people: about half the size of London. destroyed in 1789-90. he reminds readers of one of the changes to the Parisian landscape. His memory is full of instances of old buildings and curious people. and deaths. I cannot tell you what an immense impression Paris made upon me. There never was such a place for a description. Dickens visited Paris at least fifteen times between 1844 and 1868. I was perpetually turning over. If I had only a larger sheet of paper (I have ordered some for next time) I am afraid I should plunge. Dickens first visited Paris in 1844 on his way to Italy and he records those first impressions in a letter to the Count D'Orsay on 7 August 1844: 'We had a charming journey here. seemed to be another leaf in the enormous book that stands wide open there. from a very early stage in his career. for example. was seeing connections and principles of organisation in his writing about London: a city of extremes in wealth and poverty. October 1855 to April 1856 and October to December 1862. up and down. Baron Hausmann. into such a lengthened account of those two days as would startle you. He was to develop a darkening vision of the city through his later works: the fog-bound city of Bleak House.

and drinking of cool liquids. replacing its ancient networks of crowded unstable buildings with planned elegance.he gave a phenomenally successful series of readings in the British Embassy. Wherever I turn. Paris' by H Pearl Adam. When you come over here . 'One City' by E Beresford Chancellor and 'The Other City. and chairs and tables arranging. as he describes the city inPictures from Italy on his way out of it to continue his journey southwards in 1844: 'There was. Louis Philippe's constitutional monarchy of 1844 ended with the1848 Revolution and the Second Republic. watching the drying of his newly polished shoes on the little parapet outside (if a gentleman). Paris was. 1 Fleet Street. and shaggy heads of hair. finding it 'a wicked and detestable place. large boots. whether at home or abroad.' But. 7 April 1860). unless it were the appearance. the year of Dickens's death. here and there. shops were open. with calm anticipation. tobacco-pipes. very little in the aspect of Paris . doing or done. he was also fascinated by the darker side of the city. And he was constantly drawn to visit the Morgue. crammed into a bulky old lumbering cab. two articles appear.' He leads us to Hanging Sword Alley. Chancellor directs us to Childs's Bank. In 1852 Louis Napoléon was declared Emperor as Napoleon III and his reign lasted until 1870. being Dickens.. The wine-shops (every second house) were driving a roaring trade. preparatory to the eating of ices. preparations for some amazing new street are in rapid progress. directly next to Temple Bar. during Dickens's lifetime. that '. home of the Crunchers. in 1927. His last two recorded visits were in 1865 and 1868. shoe-blacks were busy on the bridges. nothing at that hour denoted a day of rest. always drawn by the 'attraction of repulsion'. or the airing of her stockings in the sun (if a lady). The Morgue was listed as one of the visitor attractions of the city and it clearly appealed to Dickens. open spaces and light.. leaning out of a low garret window. As always too. blouses.. Both articles identify places in the novel with that indefatigable topographical enthusiasm which marked out the early Dickensians. awnings were spreading. in Whitefriars. his sub-editor on All the Year Round. later in the day. though wonderfully attractive' as he wrote to John Forster during his 1846-7 visit.you shall see sights. In October 1862 Dickens wrote to W H Wills. on the south side of the thoroughfare' known as No.. were so many dense perspectives of crowd and bustle. up-hill. of a family pleasure-party. the original of Tellson's. Thus. a vibrant modernizing city. the narrow. I see some astounding new work. carts and wagons clattered to and fro. to .' The degree to which Dickens has visualized both cities in his novel and set them back in time can be seen from the early topographical investigations of members of The Dickens Fellowship as recorded in its journal The Dickensian. funnel-like streets across the River. or of some contemplative holiday-maker in the freest and easiest dishabille. These visits spanned a period of political change as well as change to urban topography. his eye for detail is evident. of course. outside the cafes. parti-coloured night-caps. 'dragged by invisible force' as he put it in 'Travelling Abroad' (All the Year Round.as we rattled near the dismal Morgue and over the Pont Neuf .to reproach us for our Sunday travelling.

we were all going direct to Heaven. We see from the very beginning that he is using an historical setting for a modern parallel. A railway-station. it was the season of Light. for good or for evil. we were all going direct the other way--in short. A Tale of Two Cities was one of two historical novels Dickens wrote.a novel of 1859 set in 1775 . we had everything before us. carries to the Chamber of Deputies politicians. to Mr Stryver's chambers in King's Bench Walk. the years leading up to and immediately following. a Column commemorating a minor revolution. and to see 'a bit of one wall' of La Force Prison. there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face. the French Revolution of July 1789. it was the epoch of incredulity. It was the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. which dealt with the period of the Gordon Riots (1780) and consequently kept an entirely English focus. it was the winter of despair. Pearl Adam escorts readers to the site of many Parisian locations: ' The Bastille has gone. In this opening he both sets us back in time . A Tale of Two Cities moves between England and France. it was the spring of hope. it was the worst of times. in the superlative degree of comparison only. the other one being Barnaby Rudge (1841). the Pont-Neuf.and brings us sharply back to the present day: it is 'so far like the present period'. it was the age of wisdom.Newgate (by 1927 the Central Criminal Court). it was the season of Darkness. Temple. stand where the Bastille stood. a bank.' We also go to St Antoine. The Pont de la Concorde in the wide and tree-decked western Paris. the period was so far like the present period. and to the Manette home in Soho. who alike forget that the platform of this cheerful white bridge was built of the time-darkened blocks of the Bastille. . those equally forlorn strongholds of solitude. and a few harassed policemen on point duty. Dickens makes it clear in the famous opening to A Tale of Two Cities that the worlds of London and Paris in his novel are very similar: It was the best of times. There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face. on the throne of France. In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes. that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received. we had nothing before us. on the throne of England. it was the age of foolishness. it was the epoch of belief. to the aristocratic quarter tourists. trams and taxis and omnibuses fly hooting more loudly than owls between what were its dungeons and what were its towers. and that their feet perhaps strike above some stone that still bears the half-graved initials of some forgotten prisoner. two drapers' shops. some cafés. that things in general were settled for ever. during that turbulent period of French history.

Childhood years in Portsmouth and Chatham would have presented instances of naval activity. Household Words. Its appearance would. To JOHN FORSTER. Dickens was far more comfortable with monthly serial parts (Carlyle called these weekly episodes 'teaspoonfuls'). The Victorians were haunted by the memory and example of the French Revolution of 1789. by today's expectations and standards. have been unprepossessing: simply pages of double columns of closely printed text without the relief of illustrations. and both Barnaby Rudgeand A Tale of Two Cities present the horrors of outbreaks of revolutionary and mob violence very powerfully. as was the case with all of Dickens' novels. and Dickens is doing something very brave in confronting one of the great Victorian fears.000 copies of the opening number. A TALE OFTWO CITIES. and the impact of industrialisation and urbanisation. My American ambassador pays a thousand pounds for the first year.000. The typical format of a Dickens monthly part was two or three chapters of the novel. Its predecessor. It came out in weekly parts (one or two chapters a week) in Dickens's journal All the Year Round.The timeline of the novel takes readers from 1757 to 1793/4. [11 MARCH 1859] This is merely to certify that I have got exactly the name for the story that is wanted. at the old shilling. That is. albeit dressing it up in period costume. from the wars between England and Revolutionary and Napoleonic France. There were real fears in 19th century Britain that there could be a revolution here. Not bad? All the Year Round sold well: 120. and will give me my old standing with my old public. that I have struck out a rather original and bold idea.. and only twenty-three years before he was born. but the discipline of a weekly serial was good for him in making him compress his material much more.000 thereafter (with A Tale of Two Cities as lead serial on first page). which had happened only seventy years before Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities. It was in the monthly part issues that the illustrations appeared. exactly what will fit the opening to a T. for the privilege of republishing in America one day after we publish here. A Tale of Two Cities was published. and the advantage (very necessary in this story) of having numbers of people who read it in no portions smaller than a monthly part. For all his radicalism and reforming zeal. and a one-volume edition in December of that year.. at best had a circulation of 40. Dickens was pleased with the way it was going . with two illustrations relevant to the story at that . in Harper's Weekly). A monthly serial version came out in the UK between June and December 1859. with the two illustrations. that of revolution. Dickens is very clear about the similarities between prerevolutionary France. and restrict his focus. at the end of each month to publish the monthly part in the green cover. and contemporary Britain.. depending on length (more in A Tale of Two Cities). in chapter 1 of A Tale of Two Cities as we have just seen. between 30 April and 26 November 1859. Also. This will give All the Year Round always the interest and precedence of a fresh weekly portion during the month. as a serial. settling down to 100. especially given the worsening poverty of those at the bottom of the social structure. The novel is therefore a warning. It is useful to see how Dickens uses the historical facts of the period as background. or the results of it. Dickens was not a revolutionary. he had a horror of riot and mob rule. Like most Victorians. A Tale of Two Cities was published in the USA almost contemporaneously (7 May to 3 December 1859.

adapted by Tom Taylor. He had been Dickens's principal illustrator since Pickwick Papers in 1836. mon ami. making use of cliff-hanger endings designed to guarantee the return of his audience the following week. with a decorative cover. Wills and Langbridge. It ran for 35 performances. however. He seemed to find dealing with an historical subject rather a problem. The one-volume edition included all the illustrations and a title-Page and frontispiece. Remember. they are Proofs. and I think the end of it is certain to make a still greater sensation. It created . and a few pages of adverts. The suggested French dramatisation seems not to have happened and though he worked on a possible public reading from A Tale of Two Cities. The first stage version came in March 1860 at the Lyceum. and that will be published in a complete Volume about the middle of November. but his work for A Tale of Two Cities is generally regarded as below his usual standard. which Phiz particularly liked doing. because it treats of a very memorable time in France. a dramatisation by two clergymen. There were. He describes it as 'the best story I have ever written'. for which Phiz was unsuited. though there are some good crowd scenes. it was never performed. from 1899. Sometimes he works on contrasting episodes within an instalment. the latter chapters will not be before the public for five or six weeks to come. I should be glad to take some steps towards having it well done. until you shall have had time to read the Proofs. when the weekly part issues were about halfway into Book the Third where Darnay has just been arrested by the Revolutionary Police. If you should think it likely to be done. and I should very much like to know what you think of its being dramatized for a French Theatre. It helps to appreciate the skill of Dickens's writing in A Tale of Two Citiesif one becomes aware of the way he distributed his material for the demands of the weekly serial. and a couple of opportunities for pictures of horses. Don't trouble yourself to write to me. so we can witness the creative flow at work.point. or will see them until they are published. The Story is an extraordinary success here. the historical process of events at work in the novel. which identifies Dickens's awareness of the importance of the narrative. My Dear Regnier You will receive by Railway parcel. The pamphlet would be bound in green wrappers. Secondly. Most famous adaptation was The Only Way. He was pleased with the novel. illustrate Dickens after A Tale of Two Cities: taste was now moving towards a more realistic style of illustration. the Proof-Sheets of a story of mine that has been for some time in progress in my weekly Journal. as is clear from this letter to François Regnier on 15 October 1859. and Private. We should also remember that he did not create the whole novel and then chop it up into instalments: he wrote as he went along. and break the novel down into its serial issues. I want you to read it for two reasons. He did not. It concentrated on the Carton thread of plot and Sir John Martin-Harvey played the role many times. other adaptations. Firstly: because I hope it is the best story I have written. Revs. It is then possible to see how he handles the end of instalments. and some of the pictures are hasty and rushed. though. Nobody but Forster has yet seen the latter portions of it. Dickens's illustrator for A Tale of Two Cities was Hablôt Knight Browne (or Phiz). again for the Lyceum.

heroic theatre visible. describing them as 'a whole tragic. performing under one hat'. Dickens said that he 'would go at all times farther to see Carlyle than any man alive. before the Many-Headed does. so it is not surprising that he turned to Carlyle for assistance whilst preparing for A Tale of Two Cities though he was somewhat dismayed to receive two cartloads of books. with Martin-Harvey as Carton. Carlyle's wonderful book. as the past suddenly returns to haunt and to shock us. social thinker. and they include the current No. historian and at times irritating conscience for the age. The Only Way was on BBC TV in 1948 and there have been a number of more recent TV serialisations of A Tale of Two Cities. I would like to read part of his description of the storming of the Bastille. but Dickens succeeds in building up suspense and tension magnificently. we watch walking shoes being made and go on journies where there are road-menders called Jacques. and don't need to be returned. we are drawn to the Loadstone Rock. biographer. We hear echoes. quietly decisive. constitute one layer of the novel and it is a layer which we need to consider in relation to Thomas Carlyle as well as Dickens. and again in 1958 with Dirk Bogarde. sincere. and has given me your message concerning the Tale of Two Cities -. It would be hard to over-estimate the importance of Thomas Carlyle to the 19th century: essayist. however slight. comic. Pearl Adam in The Dickensian in 1927 described the sensation of 'shrinking from the pitiless tread of oncoming tragedy through the sunniest pages' of A Tale of Two Cities. His admiration for Carlyle and his 'wonderful book' deepened and he was keen to let Carlyle see the work in progress as in this letter. and that it has been one of my hopes to add something to the popular and picturesque means of understanding that terrible time. a most cordial. and of The Only Way in 1925. We travel along roads. It will be published some three weeks hence in one dose. with Ronald Colman. In order to get a sense of Dickens's approach to these powerful events. The first sound film was in 1935. because I have no Proof of it). though no one can hope to add anything to the philosophy of Mr. They are not long." Carlyle's history is splendid and symbolic. 1859: My Dear Carlyle. The public issue.' Carlyle greatly enjoyed Dickens's Public readings. in case you should not have seen it. Forster is here. "that all the references to the condition of the French people. Dickens knew Carlyle's History of the French Revolution (1837) very well indeed and had read and re-read it. dated Sunday Thirtieth October. wrote to the family of Dickens's 'rare and great worth as a brother man. just and loving man. I have said in the Preface to the complete Tale (said Preface is not here. are from trustworthy authorities. He and Dickens first met in 1840 and remained friends from that time. we hear footsteps. from A Tale of Two Cities Book 2 . he exerted tremendous influence over his contemporaries. There was a silent film version in 1908. watch the sea rising. full of flashing lights at night. Nevertheless I should like you to read what remains of it. Much of the powerful impact of the novel comes from its inevitability: we know the history.which has heartily delighted me. They go on to the end from the current No. and I therefore take heart to overwhelm you with the enclosed proofs. after having occasioned me the utmost misery by being presented in the "teaspoon-full" form.the popular image of Carton and was very influential. the Ancien Regime and its harshness. clear-sighted. the events of the Revolution and its aftermath. Carlyle thought Dickens 'one of a thousand' and in 1870 after Dickens's death.

but. whence they last came. and every human drop in the caldron had a tendency to be sucked towards the vortex where Defarge himself. mad. set themselves with bleeding hands to force stones and bricks out of their places in walls. Jacques One Thousand. Jacques One. and dangerous footsteps to force their way into anybody's life. no matter how far off. dragged this man forward. 'Echoing Footsteps'. massive stone walls. One drawbridge down! "Work. People who could lay hold of nothing else. depth on depth. women!" cried madame his wife. Every pulse and heart in Saint Antoine was on high-fever strain and at highfever heat. over the heads of the crowd. which had long gown hot. As a whirlpool of boiling waters has a centre point. with a shrill thirsty cry. with frequent gleams of light above the billowy heads. and was demented with a passionate readiness to sacrifice it. where steel blades and bayonets shone in the sun. as the little circle sat in the dark London window. Two fierce hours. comrades all. . Deep ditch. With a roar that sounded as if all the breath in France had been shaped into the detested word. muskets. issued arms. issued orders. Headlong. powder. but all armed age in hunger and revenge. cannon. trooping women variously armed. muskets were being distributed--so were cartridges. laboured and strove in the thickest of the uproar. It demonstrates the way he can build up inevitability and momentum. disarmed one to arm another. eight great towers. every weapon that distracted ingenuity could discover or devise. still at his gun. work! Work. eight great towers. and ball. muskets. bars of iron and wood. so.chapter 21. wave on wave. the living sea rose. like a kind of lightning. thrust this man back. pikes. the attack began. fire and smoke. already begrimed with gunpowder and sweat. a vast dusky mass of scarecrows heaving to and fro. drums beating. Saint Antoine had been. that morning. "To me. and on the instant he became a cannonier--Defarge of the wine-shop worked like a manful soldier. cannon. no eye in the throng could have told. "What! We can kill as well as the men when the place is taken!" And to her. and a forest of naked arms struggled in the air like shrivelled branches of trees in a winter wind: all the fingers convulsively clutching at every weapon or semblance of a weapon that was thrown up from the depths below. where they began. axes. Deep ditches. Alarm-bells ringing. Jacques Five-and-Twenty Thousand. and overflowed the city to that point. Jacques Two. all this raging circled round Defarge's wine-shop. Who gave them out. scores at a time. the footsteps raging in Saint Antoine afar off. double drawbridge. the sea raging and thundering on its new beach. Through the fire and through the smoke--in the fire and in the smoke. massive stone walls. in the name of all the Angels or the Devils--which you prefer--work!" Thus Defarge of the wine-shop. as he does throughout the novel. fire and smoke. A tremendous roar arose from the throat of Saint Antoine. for the sea cast him up against a cannon. Jacques Two Thousand. footsteps not easily made clean again if once stained red. through what agency they crookedly quivered and jerked. Every living creature there held life as of no account. knives. single drawbridge.

and the furious sounding of the living sea. and Jacques Three. the inundation started on them and swept by. smoking wagonloads of wet straw. down cavernous flights of steps. but when they had done descending. made by the falling wounded. linked hand and arm. who had a lighted torch in his hand-. and the single drawbridge. Slight displacements of the raging sea. and ten thousand incoherences. Jacques Three was nearly at his side. "The Prisoners!" was the cry most taken up by the sea that rushed in. in among the eight great towers surrendered! So resistless was the force of the ocean bearing him on. and a parley--this dimly perceptible through the raging storm. Flashing weapons. still the deep ditch. as if there were an eternity of people. Hemmed in here by the massive thickness of walls and arches. the turnkey. hard work at neighbouring barricades in all directions. "The Prisoners!" "The Records!" "The secret cells!" "The instruments of torture!" "The Prisoners!" Of all these cries. A white flag from within the fortress. and threatening them all with instant death if any secret nook remained undisclosed. until he was landed in the outer courtyard of the Bastille. Here and there. Defarge laid his strong hand on the breast of one of these men--a man with a grey head. past hideous doors of dark dens and cages. Everywhere was tumult. yet furious dumb-show. that even to draw his breath or turn his head was as impracticable as if he had been struggling in the surf at the South Sea. the single drawbridge. and got him between himself and the wall. astounding noise. grown doubly hot by the service of Four fierce hours. against an angle of a wall. There. "Show me the North Tower!" said Defarge. and were winding and climbing up a tower. "Quick!" Through gloomy vaults where the light of day had never shone. nothing audible in it-suddenly the sea rose immeasurably wider and higher. but.separated him from the rest. When the foremost billows rolled past. still heading some of her women. boom smash and rattle. but. execrations. muskets. exultation.Cannon. the storm within the fortress and without was . and swept Defarge of the wine-shop over the lowered drawbridge. past the massive stone outer walls. as well as of time and space. and her knife was in her hand. and the eight great towers. went with all the speed they could make. volleys. and again up steep rugged ascents of stone and brick. blazing torches. still the deep ditch. he made a struggle to look about him. bravery without stint. and the eight great towers. bearing the prison officers with them. Defarge. the massive stone wails. deafening and maniacal bewilderment. was visible in the inner distance. they were alone. shrieks. and still Defarge of the wine-shop at his gun. and the massive stone walls. especially at first. fire and smoke. more like dry waterfalls than staircases. Madame Defarge.

as having yet to raise the dropped lids of the eyes. and there discover his testament. it is not unreasonable or unallowable to suppose a nobleman wedded to the old cruel ideas. seven dead faces. "THOU DIDST IT!" Seven prisoners released. the keys of the accursed fortress of the eight strong towers. as to the condition of the peasant in France . one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine. and those who rejoiced around them were lost spirits.--such. whose drooping eyelids and half-seen eyes awaited the Last Day. and faces hardened in the furnaces of suffering until the touch of pity could make no mark on them. but that is no deduction from my pleasure. I am very much interested and gratified by your letter concerning "A Tale of Two Cities. In the first place. whose depths were yet unfathomed and whose forces were yet unknown. Dickens supported the power in his own writing with very thorough research. Tuesday. carried higher. subdued way. faces. 1860. seven gory heads on pikes. you will remember. that never did sea roll which bore more memorable wrecks with it. the cell in which Manette had been imprisoned. long dead of broken hearts. some discovered letters and other memorials of prisoners of old time. there were two groups of faces--each seven in number --so fixedly contrasting with the rest. as if the Last Day were come.. quite as near to the time of the Revolution as the doctor's narrative.. as if the noise out of which they had come had almost destroyed their sense of hearing. June 5th. And surely when the new philosophy was the talk of the salons and the slang of the hour. as his nephew represents the time coming in. were carried high overhead: all scared. which. dates long before the Terror." I do not quite agree with you on two points. the loudly echoing footsteps of Saint Antoine escort through the Paris streets in mid-July. (They find 105 North Tower. Impassive faces. Seven faces of prisoners. The remorseless sea of turbulently swaying shapes. I see no reason to doubt. and such--like. but on the contrary. all wondering and amazed. and representing the time going out.only audible to them in a dull. voices of vengeance. This is the key to the development of the plot from this point forward) The sea of black and threatening waters. although the surrender of the feudal privileges (on a motion seconded by a nobleman of great rank) was the occasion of a sentimental scene. . and bear witness with the bloodless lips. as can be seen from this response to BulwerLytton's praise and criticism of the novel: Gad's Hill. rather. in a fearful pause. in the ocean of faces where every fierce and furious expression was in vivid life. My Dear Bulwer Lytton. suddenly released by the storm that had burst their tomb. But. all lost. telling the whole story of the Evremonde brothers and accusing all their descendants. Other seven faces there were. many reasons to believe. yet with a suspended--not an abolished--expression on them. and of destructive upheaving of wave against wave. that some of these privileges had been used to the frightful oppression of the peasant.

The tax-taker was the authority for the wretched creature's impoverishment. that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret. that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. I have had glimpses of buried treasure and other things submerged. even of Death itself.instead of a desperate one in the streets. in some of its imaginings. is referable to this. and arises out of some culminating proceeding on the part of the character which the whole story has led up to. is dead. and tiresome enough in its literal dictionary-like minuteness. This is "Mercier's Tableau de Paris. that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret. No ex post facto enquiries and provings by figures will hold water. an act of divine justice. is. the inevitability of history in A Tale of Two Cities. and I stood in ignorance on the shore.to the dignity of Carton's wrong or right. against the tremendous testimony of men living at the time. and vainly hope in time to read it all. wherein. I am not clear.generally at that day. We have already considered Dickens's words in his Preface. I have the positive intention of making that half-comic intervention a part of the desperate woman's failure. when I enter a great city by night. 'A Wonderful fact to reflect upon. a secret to the heart nearest it! Something of the awfulness. It was appointed that the book should shut with a spring. at the start of chapter three. scattered up and down the pages of which is full authority for my marquis. when I had read but a page. it seems to me to become. There is another fascinating extract given in the authorial voice rather than spoken through a character. written to make out no case whatever. the darling of my soul. my love. runs an equally powerful personal story. I take it that if anything be certain on earth it is certain that it was intolerable. which she wouldn't have minded -. And when I use Miss Pross (though this is quite another question) to bring about that catastrophe. my neighbour is dead. and . A solemn consideration. and I never have been clear." Rousseau is the authority for the peasant's shutting up his house when he had a bit of meat. and of opposing that mean death -. It was appointed that the water should be locked in an eternal frost. that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there. when the light was playing on its surface. No more can I look into the depths of this unfathomable water. this was the design. Ever affectionately and faithfully [CHARLES DICKENS] Alongside the riveting public theme. No more can I turn the leaves of this dear book that I loved. especially his words that he has verified 'what is done and suffered' in the novel. it is the inexorable consolidation and perpetuation of the secret that was always in that individuality. several personal stories. There is a curious book printed at Amsterdam. for ever and for ever. or rather. as momentary lights glanced into it. My friend is dead. as it were. and seemed to be in the fitness of things. Where the accident is inseparable from the passion and emotion of the character. surely. where it is strictly consistent with the whole design. respecting that canon of fiction which forbids the interposition of accident in such a case as Madame Defarge's death.

we considered some significant dates. and they differed principally in the passions they expressed." "You know that you are recalled to life?" "They tell me so. the anniversary of Mary's death) and the description is powerfully visualised: . When we meet Lucie she is 'not more than seventeen'. In any of the burial-places of this city through which I pass. There are. the shadows of the night did not indicate. Earlier. and in the ghastliness of their worn and wasted state. or than I am to them?' The personal intensity there characterises the novel. we are told. and later in the same chapter.forty by years. stubbornness. and every head was prematurely white. cadaverous colour. A hundred times the dozing passenger inquired of this spectre: "Buried how long?" The answer was always the same: "Almost eighteen years. which of the multitude of faces that showed themselves before him was the true face of the buried person. Dickens met Ellen Ternan in 1857: he was aged 45. succeeded one another. so did varieties of sunken cheek. But the face was in the main one face. all through the night. the 'recalling to life' of Dr Manette: 'But. and though the coach (in a confused way. submission. is rocked to sleep by the movement of the coach and dreams of recent experiences. lamentation. in their innermost personality. Now. like the presence of pain under an opiate) was always with him. Jarvis Lorry. but they were all the faces of a man of five-and. she was 18 and had been born in Rochester in 1839. is there a sleeper more inscrutable than its busy inhabitants are. on board the Dover mail." "I hope you care to live?" "I can't say." "You had abandoned all hope of being dug out?" "Long ago. defiance. emaciated hands and figures. to me. though the bank was almost always with him. contempt. there was another current of impression that never ceased to run.which I shall carry in mine to my life's end. Dickens changed the length of Manette's imprisonment to 'almost 18 years' from his original idea of 15 years."' It is Manette's face he sees before him: a man of 45 years who had been imprisoned for almost 18 years and who is now to be 'recalled to life'. Dickens's sister-in-law Mary Hogarth died aged seventeen on 7 May 1837 and this event affected him profoundly. echoes of Ellen's appearance in the description of Lucie in chapter 4 (which appeared on 7 May 1859. Pride. He was on his way to dig some one out of a grave.

of course. or alarm. his lack of purpose. and a forehead with a singular capacity (remembering how young and smooth it was). or merely of a bright fixed attention. at first glance. 'Recalled to Life'. Carton's first appearance is for a narrative function.' And finally there is Sidney Carton: 'I am a disappointed drudge. his character starts to develop in ways which draw him out of a conventional alternative lover's role into that of a man who begins to reassess his whole existence. and a potential development of the love interest in the emergence of the Lucie-Darnay-Carton triangle.he saw standing to receive him by the table between them and the fire. It permits him meeting Lucie and finding himself attracted to her. in a riding-cloak. an unconventional lover figure. As his eyes rested on a short. and even there they prolonged their usual orgies late into the night. or wonder.' It may.hat by its ribbon in her hand. a quantity of golden hair. they went the same circuit. sir. in the words of the title of the first book of A Tale of Two Cities. his employment as Stryver's 'jackal'. preparing the material for the court cases which Stryver will win: '. might have floated a king's ship. when the hail drifted heavily and the sea ran high. pretty figure.'. going home stealthily and unsteadily to his lodgings. and still holding her straw travelling.... and his decision to give some purpose to his existence. seem paradoxical to include a character whose death is the culminating moment of the novel amongst those who are. character contrast.' Thus far. his intelligence and ability. a sudden vivid likeness passed before him.. like a dissipated cat. He is. His career through the novel engages him in a process of self-discovery which enables him to emerge from a dissolute life by taking a decision which provides his life with a purpose: its loss in the interests of other people as a consequence of love. Carton's involvement in the novel is conventional: plot purpose. one cold time. The parallel thread in Carton's story involves his origins. This is the main interest in the character: his capacity for coming to judge and know himself. once he has discovered something to which it is worth giving himself.. What the two drank together. given her devotion to Darnay and Carton's own acknowledged unlikelihood as her lover. His physical similarity to Charles Darnay at the latter's trial at the Old Bailey permits Darnay's release. and draws Carton into the small circle of Darnay and the Manettes.idlest and most unpromising of men. yet this is exactly the case for Sydney Carton. slight. sharply set against the more conventional Darnay. (he) was Stryver's great ally. and no man on earth cares for me. though it included all the four expressions-as his eyes rested on these things. Dickens describes the moment of realisation like this: . As Carton becomes increasingly affected by his love for Lucie. His love for Lucie does not blind him to its impossibility. of a child whom he had held in his arms on the passage across that very Channel. and Carton was rumoured to be seenat broad day. a pair of blue eyes that met his own with an inquiring look.. a young lady of not more than seventeen. of rifting and knitting itself into an expression that was not quite one of perplexity. between Hilary term and Michaelmas. I care for no man on earth.

He once again exploits the physical similarity between himself and Darnay. but who at length struck into his road and saw its end.' Darnay's arrest as an aristocrat in revolutionary France. As he thinks into the future. ' 'There is nothing more to do. A moment. One of the most remarkable sufferers by the same axe--a woman-had asked at the foot of the same scaffold. Carton is prevented from becoming a sentimental figure by his innate strength. yet feels that life is pointless until he starts to find himself in love. Lucie's devoted pursuit of him. about the city that night. Dickens is touching some of the deepest springs of human personality and action. capable of hard work and great loyalty. and they were prophetic. Many added that he looked sublime and prophetic. Carton at the foot of the guillotine: They said of him. gardens in which the fruits of life hung ripening. and a desert all around. talented. there were airy galleries from which the loves and graces looked upon him. who had wandered and struggled and got lost. the manner in which he said these words aloud under the fast-sailing clouds. Harthouse in Hard Times. He has investigated this in Steerforth in David Copperfield.' Any discussion of this novel is almost inevitably bound to end with its famous concluding words. not long before. To him is given the moving final speech of the novel. a mirage of honourable ambition. glancing upward at the moon. In exploring the potential in a nature which is intelligent. to be allowed to write down the thoughts that were inspiring her. If he had given any utterance to his. and its pillow was wet with wasted tears. and takes his place on the scaffold. with its climax in words which have become part of everyone's cultural inheritance. 'until tomorrow. they would have been these: . Climbing to a high chamber in a well of houses. and will yet do so in Eugene Wrayburn in Our Mutual Friend. lying in the wilderness before him.' It was not a reckless manner. Dickens's depiction of Carton pursues a fascination he has been developing with the dissolute figure who wastes his better talents. self-denial and perseverance. and it was gone. tragically discovered when the only means of saving what is important in his life is to lose it in the interest of others. drugs him in order to facilitate his escape. he threw himself down in his clothes on a neglected bed. waters of Hope that sparkled in his sight. and saw for a moment.' said he. he sees the people for whom he has such powerful compassion living on in happiness and maintaining 'a sanctuary in their hearts' for him. this man stood still on his way across a silent terrace. Carton also fits into the fascination Dickens has with doubleness in characterisation: Darnay and he are two side of a character which Dickens emphasises by giving them a physical likeness.'Waste forces within him. visits him in prison. It was the settled manner of a tired man. placing herself and her father at risk. that it was the peacefullest man's face ever beheld there. In the fair city of this vision. nor was it more expressive of negligence than defiance. I can't sleep. all encourage Carton into action.

then fair to look upon. gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out. "I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts. with not a trace of this day's disfigurement --and I hear him tell the child my story. I see the good old man. than I was in the souls of both. I see him winning it so well. it is a far."I see Barsad. useful. so long their friend. I see her. in that England which I shall see no more. I see him. before it shall cease out of its present use. peaceful. fore-most of just judges and honoured men. the Judge. far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. faded away. and. "I see the lives for which I lay down my life." ©Dr Tony Williams. prosperous and happy. the Juryman. their course done. to this place-. and Cly. I see her and her husband. in their struggles to be truly free. through long years to come. and I know that each was not more honoured and held sacred in the other's soul. I see the blots I threw upon it. than I have ever done. "It is a far. I see her father. and in the hearts of their descendants. and faithful to all men in his healing office. Defarge. bringing a boy of my name. a man winning his way up in that path of life which once was mine. 3 July 2007 . lying side by side in their last earthly bed. perishing by this retributive instrument. aged and bent. far better thing that I do. with a tender and a faltering voice. and at peace. and passing tranquilly to his reward. that my name is made illustrious there by the light of his. Gresham College. with a forehead that I know and golden hair. generations hence. in ten years' time enriching them with all he has. who bears my name. but otherwise restored. an old woman. long ranks of the new oppressors who have risen on the destruction of the old. I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth. in their triumphs and defeats. I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss. I see Her with a child upon her bosom. "I see that child who lay upon her bosom and who bore my name. The Vengeance. weeping for me on the anniversary of this day.

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