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                                   Symbolism


   BURIED ALIVE :
             Dr.Manete is buried alive when he is imprisoned for 18 years and is cut off from any contact with his
         family or the outside world.


   THE COLOR RED :
             The red wine spilled in the street in Paris foreshadow the blood that will be spilled in the revolution.
             The revolutionaries use the Defarge's wineshop as a meeting place.When Barsad comes in, she pins a
rose in her hair, as a warning to them that a spy is present.

             When the evening sun shone red on the Marquis, he said "It will die out directly."It was prophetic of
        his imminent death at the hands of the man whose child he killed. The Marquis' hands were red with the
        blood of other victims,too.


FISHING :
Jerry Cruncher refers to his body-snatching business as "fishing".
When Barsad engages Madame Defarge in a seemingly casual conversation about
Gaspard, he is really fishing for information.


   BUZZ OF BLUEFLIES :
         The courtroom audience is hoping for the spectacle of a public execution,and they "buzz" around in court
         like flies searching for a body to feast upon.


    WATER :
         Unfathomable water - the inability to really understand a person. Locked in eternal frost-never to discover
        someone's innermost feelings.
            The memorable storm in London with its "sweep of water...crash,fire and rain" all prefigure the revolution.
            Track of the storm - events of the revolution and how they impact Darnay's life.


    FOOTSTEPS :
         The echo of unseen footsteps in the street forshadow the people and events which are coming into the
       lives of Darnay and his family.


   SHADOWS :
        The inscrutability of those we think we know. On our deepest level,each of us remains a stranger to everyone
      else.
         "Stirred up old shadows..." - the deep feelings and people fron Carton's past that he thought were gone
     forever.
          Madame DeFarge threw a shadow over Lucie and all her hopes. The substance of the shadow  was the
     events recorded in Dr. Manette's prison journal.


    STONE :
         The chateau and its steps and fountain are all stone as are the gargoyles.The heart of the Marquis is as
        stone in its lack of feeling for others.When he is awakened by his assasin, his face becomes "petrified",
        turned to stone. The Gorgon's head is that of Medusa - one look at her would turn a person to stone.


    LODESTONE ROCK :
         Lodestone is magnetic ore. Events are drawing Darnay to France like a magnet.


    TELLSON'S BANK :
         The bank is compared to a prison with "bars to its windows"and its back rooms like a "condemned hole".
     When a young man first came to work, "they hid him somewhere til he was old", like a prisoner in a dungeon.


  WINDING SHEET OF THE CANDLE :
         The melting wax that runs down a candle is called a winding sheet.Before body bags were invented, the dead were wrapped in a length of cloth called a winding sheet. The winding sheet of a candle is used to represent death, and as it dripped  down on the sleeping Carton, it prefigured his death.


 BRANDY :
       During his interview with Barsad in Mr.Lorry's rooms in Paris,Carton asks Mr. Lorry specifically if he has any brandy. This is surprising since all through the story, Carton's drink of choice is port.Maybe Dickens had in mind a quote from Boswell's classic biography "Life of Johnson" where Samuel Johnson says "Sherry is for boys, port is for men, but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy." As Carton finalizes his heroic plan to save Darnay,he pours out the last remnants of the brandy on the hearth,"like a man who was done with it".From this point on, Carton is through with alcohol, and pours it out almost in symbol of pouring out his lifeblood for Darnay.


 DECAPITATION :
        In Lucie's hotel room in Dover there is a mirror with a carved frame picturing "a...procession of...cupids,
   several headless..."
          In Darnay's London trial, the Attorney-General stated in his opening remarks to the jury that they "...could
   never lay their heads upon their pillows... unless the prisoner's head was taken off."
         Tellson's Bank was next to Temple Bar, where the severed heads of those executed for treason were dis-
 played as a warning to all.
           The woodsawyer says that he is the "Samson of the firewood guillotine" and likens cutting his firewood to
  decapitating victims of the guillotine.


CARTON AS CHRIST FIGURE:
    Carton dies so that others may live. His death in place of Darnay's atones for the sins of the St.Evremonde family.


SYDNEY :
   This has a double symbolism.The name is a derivative of "Saint Denis" which in turn is derived from "Dionysus".   Dionysus,also known as Bacchus,was the ancient Greek god of wine,a symbol of Carton's alcoholism.Saint Denis is the   patron saint of Paris and was a martyr who died by decapitation, foreshadowing Carton's death.


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HELPFUL BOOKS:

A Tale of Two Cities: Dickens' Revolutionary Novel by Ruth Glancy,Twayne Pub.,1991

A Tale of Two Cities:Modern Critical Interpretations, ed. by Harold Bloom, Chelsea House Pub., 1987

Readings on A Tale of Two Cities, ed. by Don Nardo, Greenhaven Press, 1997


           about the author of this page :  Carla Viator

   WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY :  jackal : /  'jak el    n.: one who does routine work for another's advantage.
                        feel free to take advantage of my pages

          
                                              Hot Links :
   
AMANDA'S TALE OF TWO CITIES PAGE: this very cool site takes a lighter look at Dickens' Tale.

CLASSIC NOTES : this site has chapter-by-chapter summaries and analysis and more.
                                            
DICKENS PAGE: the mother of all Dickens sites! gazillions of links!

DICKENS' LIFE AND WORKS: links to all Dickens' works. 
                                                              
SUSANNA'S A FAR BETTER REST: a reimagining of Tale of Two Cities narrated from Sydney Carton's point of view.

FREE BOOKNOTES AND MESSAGEBOARD: another great site with booknotes and a forum where you can post your questions and views.        
                          
DICKENS' GADS HILL PLACE: Dickens' life and works. there's a daily quote posted.

FRENCH REVOLUTION:a great site

THE JACKAL: a new rock musical.


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updated: Feb. 11, 2001