What Are The Symbols In “A Tale Of Two Cities”. This novel, “A Tale of Two Cities” skates on the two railings of criticism, one sect of the critics is of the view that this novel does not fulfill all the requirements and demands of a true tragic novel but a large number of critics term it as a great tragic novel. Speaking on the later sect of the critics, we also acknowledge and confess that there is a chain of tragic incidents, melodramatic elements and horrible situations in this novel. These kinds of tragic situations and episodes are necessary to the plot construction of the novel.
The French Revolution in the novel which determines the fortunes and misfortunes of every group and individual, plays it’s very vital role in making this novel a tragic one. Historically speaking, it shows the whirlpool of injustice and atrocity, connecting with French Revolution.
A true and genuine genius of a tragedy lies in depicting the sufferings and misfortunes of human beings. The characters i of a tragedy are always struggling against the problems of life with unyielding spirit. It is man’s nature in the shape of fate or destiny which plays its high role in man’s tragedy. Tragedy depicts both sides of human nature, the lofty and heroic side as well as the devilish and wicked side. According to Aristotle’s point of view, tragedy arouses the emotions and feelings of pity and fear through its events but it is also worthy to note that a true tragedy also affects the catharsis of these emotions.
Whenever we have a deep and careful study of “A Tale of Two Cities” we come to know that Dr. Manette, being a promising young physician, is leading a peaceful life in Paris. The tragedy of his life takes off by the cruelty of the two Everemonde brothers who took him to attend upon a dying young girl and her dying young brother. These two Everemonde brothers of sexual nature, had attempted to rape the girl and had tortured her brother who came to rescue her. Though Dr. Mannette reported the authorities about these two killings but police did nothing and these two influential Everemonde Brothers threw him into the Bastille.
Dr. Mannette who remained in the prison for a long time of his life, observed the sufferings and problems with his own eyes and wrote them on papers and finally hid these papers there by digging the soil. After the imprisonment of 18 years, he was released and now he had become so weak both in body and in mind because he was the victim of the cruelty of the aristocratic sect. The emotions of pity and fear are aroused at their peak in the scene of the meeting between Luice and her half-crazy father. After having the treatment of a specific duration, he becomes normal; but he is unable to forget the tragic past when he was imprisoned. He is often haunted by the memories of Bastille.
At the time when he was going to Paris to rescue his son-in-law from the arrest or the clutches of the revolutionaries, he was seriously under the huge stress of his brain socks. In fact, here he was fighting a game of life and death because he was putting up a great resistance against all the past memories. Set As far as the matter of lives of Luice and her husband. Darnay is concerned, it is really pathetic and heart-breaking. In her childhood, Lucie lost her mother and could never see her father who had been in prison. Now she had to look after her husband as well as her father who were physically and mentally out of order. Her loving husband Darnay is arrested by the revolutionaries in Paris and now, she also goes to Paris to rescue him. Now the true identity of Darnay is revealed to us and he is the son of one of the Evremonde Brothers but he gives up all his claims to the family estate in France and emigrates to England.
It is very hard luck of Darnay that he is released from the prison after the imprisonment of 15 years but is re-arrested, retried and this time he was sentenced to death. It is only by the self-sacrifice of Sydney Carton which makes Darnay’s survival of life possible. Darnay and Lucie are such characters who face long series of tragic events. Lucie is weak-minded and faint – hearted but Darnay is a man of courage and strong heart who has heroic qualities. Sydney Carton’s tragedy is also very heart-breaking. Being a frustrated man, he always believes in self-sacrifice. It is he who changes his guise as Darnay because of having too much resemblance to Darnay. He takes Darnay’s place in the prison and happily embraces the death sentence in order to give his life for the sake of the husband of the woman whom he loves a lot. At the moment of his execution, he looks as a man of sublime courage and prophetic qualities thai the words of Jesus Christ echo in his ears, “I am the Resurrection”. Here he really becomes a man of heroic qualities by the act of self-sacrifice and supersedes a life to Darnay.
There is no doubt in the fact that this scene of self sacrifice of Sydney Carton arouses the emotions and feelings of pity and fear and we, being the viewers or the readers remain stunned. This is the very scene which also gives a grandeur of a tragedy to this novel.
In addition to these scenes, there are also scenes which are connected with the French Revolution. These acts of revolutionaries are also very touchy, heart rendering and tragic ones. The aristocratic families and high strata of life do not have a least concern for the problems, worries and miseries of the poor class people. The glimpses and scenes of hunger and exploitation are really heart-breaking. In the process of revolution and revenge, revolutionaries burnt down the huge, costly and gorgeous palaces of the aristocrats.
It becomes a great tragedy when innocent people are crushed by the protestants. The fall of the fortress and the storm of the Bastille are such situations in which thousands of casualties have happened. Apart from these scenes, these scenes of open bloodshed are really awful and tragic which cast a spell of agony and anguish on the minds of the viewers and the readers. How heart-breaking and heart-itching are these scenes in which we see Madame Defarge cutting off the head of the governor of the Bastille and the old Foulon and his son-in-law are mercilessly and brutely hanged. We also see that just in four days, eleven hundred defenceless prisoners of both sexes of all ages are murdered or killed by the furious and enraged revolutionaries and the king and the queen are sentenced to death in the Guillotine.
To conclude this above topic, we can say in the remaining remarks that this novel “A Tale of Two Cities” is not a tragedy of particularly one individual but a tragedy of massacre or numberless people who became the victims of French Revolution. Whether it is a tragic death of an individual or the tragic deaths of the society at large scale but there is no doubt in the fact that this novel is full of tragic scenes, situations of melodramatic kinds, bloodshed, execution, suppression, atrocities, rape, etc. which all make this a novel of tragedy.