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A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - Book Report/Review Example

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The paper tells that the greatest asset of A Tale of Two Cities is its portrayal of the violence during the Reign of Terror. Dickens tends to exaggerate its horror. Though he quotes no figures he gives the impression of a frenzied massacre lasting for years. Despite this, the portrayal of the Terror is still useful because of several historic events that are described realistically. The Bastille was captured when the mob Parisian revolutionaries surged forward and defeated its garrison. This opened the floodgate of mob violence that would inundate the country. Although the description is not completely historically accurate it gives a valuable image on the attack. Again and again, Dickens insists upon the meaningless horrors of revolution-the mass-butcheries, the injustice, the ever-present terror of spies, the frightful bloodlust of the mob. He broods over their frenzies with a curious imaginative intensity. "There could not be fewer than five hundred people, and they were dancing like five thousand demons... keeping a ferocious time...then swooped creaming off.” The September massacres are also mentioned. Dickens is correct in that they lasted four days and around eleven hundred were slain. "Eleven hundred defenseless prisoners of both sexes and ages had been killed by the populace; that four days had been darkened by the deed of this attack upon the prisons, that all political prisoners had been in danger, some had been murdered"....
This unjust slaughter was present throughout the Revolution and the novel too. This emphasis on the violent revolutionary scenes is a useful addition to the study of the Terror as it is described in immaculate detail even though it is somewhat exaggerated. Some events may not have happened but it is much better for understanding the atmosphere then getting completely accurate accounts.
The fascination and interest Charles Dickens had in the mob-mentality of mankind can be illuminated through his use of the extended metaphor of the rising sea. His intrigue with this phenomenon is depicted through his numerous references to the dangers and powers invested in these groups. This image of the rising sea stems from the echoing footsteps which are both relative to the theme of revolution and terror. The echoes, which resembled the possibility of a future revolution, have grown so substantially that they have morphed into a dangerous sea. With the rate at which the mob was growing, concession seems all but inevitable.
The personified sea "engulfing new victims" (Johnson 979) continues to rage on with no decrease in force or rage. In an observation made by Norrie Epstein, "The most vivid character of all is the swarming mob. Dickens had always been fascinated by the psychology of the crowd in which the individual sheds his identity and inhibitions and merges with a larger entity" (Dickens, 222). With the occurrence of mass murders by the guillotine, Dickens clearly shows how people's morals can be overshadowed by their peers. It is conceivable that Dickens based his metaphorical rising sea on the studied and research conducted by well known psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. Freud proposed that the mind was divided into three ...Show more


This paper discusses the consequence of mob's violence in both the cities i.e. Paris and London as mentioned in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. The interest Dickens had in the mob-mentality of mankind can be illuminated through his use of the extended metaphor of the rising sea…
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A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
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