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A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

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A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens, in his novel A Tale of Two Cities, relies heavily on the use of imagery to explain what will happen in the future. In particular, Dickens relies on blood and wine imagery to foreshadow the future and the effects of the wine after the peasants drink it.

Dickens introduces wine imagery fairly early in the novel, a sure telling of what will happen later on. The readers' first impression of France is:

A large cask of wine had been dropped and broken, in the street. The accident had happened in getting it out of a cart; the cask had tumbled out with a run, the hoops had burst, and it lay on the stones just outside of the wine-shop, shattered like a walnut-shell. All the people within reach had suspended their business, or their idleness, to run to the spot and drink the wine (Dickens 31).

In this small bit of text, Dickens has hinted at what will happen in the future. When the wine spills out, it can be symbolized as blood which signifies that there will be many deaths to come. Everyone near the wine has gathered and has come to drink that wine, though the wine is dirty. Dickens portrays the peasants' desperation to quench their thirst with the wine, regardless of the wine being dirty. Living conditions in France are terrible because the nobility only care about themselves. The wine is running just next to the Defarge's wine shop. The Defarge's, especially Madame Defarge, hate the aristocrats and want to do everything in their power to kill of all of the nobility. Dickens uses wine imagery because wine, if drank too much, makes people drunk which makes people do things they would not usually do. The wine that the peasants do drink can be symbolized as blood. The peasants want the aristocrats to be killed because of the aristocrats' harsh rule of the peasants and the peasants will do anything to satiate their thirst; their desire to kill the aristocracy.

Since the readers know that there will be deaths, their next immediate question is who will die. Readers wonder whether the peasants will be successful in killing off the nobility. Dickens states, a little after the wine cask has been broken, that "the time was to come, when wine too would be spilled on the street-stones, and when the stain of it would be red upon many of them there" (32-33). Wine is used to symbolize blood in this particular passage. Literally, Dickens says that blood will be spilled on the streets which means there will be deaths and many of them. Dickens says that many people will also be stained by the wine, which can be interpreted as that many people will be responsible for different people's murders. However, readers do not know whose blood will be spilled. It could be the peasants, the aristocrats, or even both.

The revolution starts very slowly, but steadily begins. In France, it is becoming "Lighter and lighter, until at last the sun touched the tops of the still trees, and poured its radiance over the hill. In the glow, the water of the chateau fountain seemed to turn to blood, and the stone faces crimsoned" (128). This chateau fountain is at the chateau of the Monsieur the Marquis, the governor of the chateau. When the water in the chateau fountain turns to blood, it signifies that there will be death in the chateau. There are stone faces on the outer walls of the chateau. The stone faces are compromised of humans and tigers. The human stone faces are ones of past governors of the chateau. When the stone faces crimsoned, it tells of another governor's death by murder. Sure enough, the Monsieur the Marquis has been murdered. There had been a knife that had been left inside of him with a paper attached to it, which reads "'Drive him fast to his tomb. This from, Jacques'" (130). The peasants have struck first in getting rid of the aristocrats.

The peasants gather and march on Saint Antoine and the Bastille. They overwhelm the resisting force and "Saint Antoine's blood was up, and the blood of tyranny and domination by the iron hand was down . . ." (217). In this passage, the peasants are overwhelmed with emotions because they have finally gone against the hated aristocrats. They have struck a blow to the aristocrats and they want more of the aristocrats' blood. Finally, the nobility, the blood of tyranny, has fallen at this particular province in France and the peasants are overjoyed. However, these peasants "are headlong, mad, and dangerous; and in the years so long after the breaking of the cask at Defarge's wine-shop door, they are not easily purified when once stained red" (218). Dickens has identified the mob as "dangerous" because when many people are gathered together and emotions are running high, people do things that they would not do if they

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