Jan 20, 2013

A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

This being my first foray into Dickens' work, I didn't quite know what to expect and was assuming it would be vaguely Bronte-ian. In terms of vocabulary, I was mostly right. In terms of atmosphere and plot, I was way off. Written in the mid-1800s, this is a piece of historical fiction about the French Revolution, and it is truly stirring in a way I hadn't imagined it would be. Dickens also managed to accomplish something amazing, in that he successfully created sympathy for both the heroes and the anti-heroes. The reader feels just as awful about the execrable conditions of the French peasants as ones does about the plight of Charles Darnay's family. Dickens' point is that tyranny begets tyranny, horror begets horror. Vengeance is never as righteous as it seems to be, and cruelty knows no boundaries of class or wealth. Poverty does not a good man (or woman) make, and the will to stand up against injustice and commit great sacrifice can sometimes be found in the most unlikely places. I am so glad I read this important work, even if it did make me cry at the end.

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