Tale of Two Cities - Context Essay

Topics: Voltaire, Age of Enlightenment, French Revolution Pages: 3 (1008 words) Published: September 8, 2013
Knowing the context is vital to understanding a novel. It is important to understand the historical and cultural context of A Tale of Two Cities to understand the complexity that has been woven through it by Charles Dickens. Understanding the cultural context is extremely essential to understanding the ideas of enlightenment that are shown throughout the novel, ideas of enlightenment are held in tension by Dickens when he creates a paradox and help the readers to understand the action and conviction of his characters. The Historical context is perhaps the most important as Dickens makes many references the French Revolution and events that occurred in that time period.

The historical context is crucial to understanding the complexity and set up of the book A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens’ uses many allusions, their ideas to which are parallel to the events of the French Revolution. The author obviously expects the reader to have some knowledge of the date and events of the French Revolution as Dickens uses mainly symbolism to depict the events and class system in his writing. An example of this would be the caricature Monseigneur is about to partake in his chocolate. “It took all four men…to conduct the happy chocolate to Monseigneur’s lips”, this is used to symbolise immense grandeur, wealth and how the nobility in the French Revolution were drunk on power “deep would be the blot on his escutcheon if his chocolate had been ignobly waited on by only three men; he might have died with two”. Monseigneur is clearly a symbol representing all nobility and anyone with some knowledge of the classes of the French Revolution would see the relation between the text and the historical context. It is important to know the context to understand the novel, without knowing the historical context a person could not understand A Tale of Two Cities properly as Dickens makes numerous references and creates allusions that represent the events and types of class in the French...

Bibliography: 1. Charles Dickens (2008) A Tale of Two Cities, London: Vintage
2. French Revolution (Part 1), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDWqwcTtZa0
Date accessed: (18/3/2013)
3. The French Revolution: Crash Course World History #29, 10th August 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTTvKwCylFY
Date accessed: (18/3/2013)
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