“A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens Essay
“A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens
Injustice is probably one of the oldest forms of hate known to man. Injustice can be found anywhere and in all forms of life. One of the most well known forms of injustice is slavery. Men and women of all ages and races suffer under slavery still to this day. Romania, for example, has been home to the unfortunate youth who are sold as prostitutes by their own parents! We all know that this is wrong, but society has driven us to not considering this as slavery, just cruelty. Obviously slavery is unjust, but some people to this date still do not know this because of the way they were brought up. However, what was once justified can, upon closer examination, be considered unjust. This was also the case during the revolution in France that began in 1789. Charles Dickens in “A Tale of Two Cities” described the many injustices that resulted from oppression in France. Injustice during the French Revolution affected everyone touched by it because the revolution claimed many victims on all sides. French peasants suffered, the aristocrats suffered, and innocent people suffered when the Revolution claims its victims.
The unjust French government oppressed the poor peasants until they revolted in a bloody uprising. Everyone has a breaking point, and once it was reached, it was very hard to go back to a calm state. It was already bad that Marie Antoinette was using the tax money from the poor peasants to pay for her unnecessary dinner parties. Once Antoinette raised the taxes for that same purpose, it became unjust. This resulted in the beheading of Marie Antoinette.
The wine was red wine, and had stained the ground of the narrow street in the suburb of Saint Antoine, in Paris, where it was spilled. It had stained many hands, too, and many faces, and many naked feet, and many wooden shoes. The hands of the man who sawed the wood, left red marks on the billets; and the forehead of the woman who nursed her baby, was stained with the stain of the old rag she wound about her head again. Those who had been greedy with the staves of the cask, had acquired a tigerish smear about the mouth; and one tall joker so besmirched, his head more out of a long squalid bag of a night-cap than in it, scrawled upon a wall with his finger dipped in muddy wine-lees–blood (Dickens 37).
The wine, which symbolizes blood, was smeared everywhere. This showed how desperate the French were to find some nourishment, even if it meant slurping wine off the city streets. It was amazing how a calm day in France changed into first come first serve madness. Also, the raiding of the Bastille showed how little the peasants could tolerate before retaliating. In this massacre, the peasants overpowered the guards to set the famous landmark on fire.
Next, the aristocrats suffer from the united peasants’ uncontrollable anger and violence. One may wonder how the aristocrats and the peasants suffered at the same time? Before the Revolution, the aristocrats had all the money and happiness, but as the Revolution progressed, this happiness gradually converted into fear. Once the peasants realized that they made up the majority, they took advantage of this. The peasants’ anger drove them to imprisoning and killing every rich person in sight. Innocent people were killed just because they were rich. Aristocrats had no chance of survival because they were hated most. Anyone who worked for the government or even believed in what it stood for lived in a life of fear.
The Marquis from “A Tale of Two cities” was too ignorant to realize that his comments bothered the people. This angered the peasants along with how wealthy he was. But one didn’t have to be the Marquis to be punished. Any wealthy man returning to France could be considered an emigrant. For instance, Darnay, a wealthy man, was accused of being an emigrant, so he was immediately sent to prison. As you can see, even the wealthy had no protection under the crumbled government.
Lastly, innocent people suffer as the Revolution burned out of control. Innocent people, which included relatives of those directly affected, suffer just because of the overgrown madness. A good example of this would be Lucie and her daughter Little Lucie. Madam Defarge (who was probably the biggest reactionary in the whole book) wanted the whole Manette family to suffer just because Darnay (the nephew of the Marquis) married into the family. Luckily, Little Lucie was not hurt, thanks to Mrs. Pross who put her own life on the line just to save the Manette family. Mrs. Pross, who lived a
simple, quiet life, suffered partial deafness from the sound of a single gunshot. Many relatives of the aristocrats received death by the guillotine just because of their family ties and heritage. This was not right, but the people were blinded by their madness to even think about who they were killing and punishing.
As illustrated, injustice during the French Revolution affected everyone touched by it because the Revolution claimed so many victims on all sides. Thousands of irreplaceable lives were taken during the time of the Revolution. There were no winners in the outcome of the revolution. These few years were some of the worst France had ever seen.
The grindstone had a double handle, and turning at it madly were two men, whose faces, as their long hair flapped back when the whirlings of the grindstone brought their faces up, were more horrible and cruel than the visages of the wildest savages in their most barbarous disguises (Dickens 260).
Is it ok to do unjust things in the name of justice? Will there ever be an end to injustice in the world we live in? At the rate we’re going, we may never reach the desired utopia that we dream of.