Revolutionary Imagery in A Tale of Two Cities

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The French Revolution began in 1789 as a respectable insurrection; however, it soon became a bloody massacre. The peasants had been oppressed by poverty and the aristocracy. Eventually, they grew weary and tired of the subjugation; therefore, they revolted against the aristocracy, who had not anticipated the revolution. However, they became frenzied and blood thirsty, becoming carried away with the bloodshed. The novel A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens tells the story of these two classes along with that of two families and two cities, London and Paris, during the French Revolution. The novel is written in such a way that allows the reader to experience the trials and tribulations of the French Revolution, while still enjoying the…show more content…
Depressed and slinking though they were, eyes of fire were not wanting among them; nor compressed lips, white with what they suppressed; nor foreheads knitted into the likeness of the gallows-rope they mused about enduring, or inflicting. The trade signs … were, all, grim illustrations of Want” (22). This animal-like imagery shows that the peasants are now at the point of pure hatred for the dissociation and disdain of the aristocracy; therefore, the peasants are no longer willing to “turn at bay” and be obedient, like animals. As expressed in the quote “For, the time was to come, when the gaunt scarecrows of that region should have watched the lamplighter … But the time was not come yet; and every wind that blew over France shook the rags of the scarecrows in vain, for the birds, fine of song and feather, took no warning,” the aristocracy, content with their flamboyant clothes and accessories and lavish past-times, is doing everything possible to avoid the peasants, or oppressed “scarecrows,” including treating them like animals (23). The aristocracy is completely ignorant about the fire of rebellion building within the hearts of the peasants, who the reader is led to pity because of the maltreatment, suffering, and injustice they have experienced. In contrast, however, during the parts of the novel set during the French Revolution, Dickens uses other imagery to persuade the reader to commiserate for the
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