A Tale of Two Cities
A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens
reviewed by Elizabeth Niebel
Set amidst the turmoil of the corrupt governments of England and France, this story begins in 1775 with the release of Alexandre Manette who has unjustly been in prison for the past eighteen years. He is reunited with his eighteen-year-old daughter, Lucie Manette, who believed herself an orphan. Though Monsieur Manette gladly adjusts to leading a normal life again, he is haunted by the thought of something he cannot remember.
Charles Darnay is a French heir to much wealth, which he does not claim, due to the means by which it was acquired. Rather, he has chosen to earn his living by teaching, and in kindnesses to others, attempt to repair the wrongs incurred by his family. In one such instance of kindness, he meets the Manettes; their acquaintance grows into friendship throughout further meetings. Darnay's renunciation of wealth and position in France, donning a false name in England, and traffic between the two countries, cause each country to either dislike him or suspect him of treason. All of these things lead to tenuous situations for Charles Darnay.
Sidney Carton is a barrister of England, who, though very bright, is in general, bored with life. He is envious of Mr. Darnay because he holds the affection of the beautiful Miss Lucie Manette. Can he reconcile his love for Miss Manette, and his dislike of Mr. Darnay?
Aside from the characters already mentioned, A Tale of Two Cities contains wine shop keepers who lust for revenge on their French oppressors, a messenger for a bank who robs graves at night, Lucie Manette's opinionated but faithful servant and friend, and various other characters, all intricate to Charles Dickens.
Although this redemptive narrative is about people, it is also a tale of two cities, London and Paris, before and during the French revolution. It is a tale of loss and of gain, of violence and of peace, of revenge and of love. Perhaps it is best described in its opening words "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times".
~ Elizabeth Niebel
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