Friday, August 22, 2014

A Tale of Two Cities review by Ananya S.

Review of A Tale of Two Cities

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” So begins Charles Dickens in one of his more famous novels, A Tale of Two Cities. Focusing on the effects of the French Revolution on an Anglo-French family, Dickens’ novel is filled with adventure, suspense, and danger.
At seventeen years of age, Lucie Manette is reunited with the father she never knew. He had mysteriously disappeared before her birth and was found to have been unjustly imprisoned. Finally together again, they set out for England and make the acquaintance of Charles Darnay. Darnay and Lucie eventually fall in love and get married. Lucie’s father is happy for them; however, he realizes there is something oddly familiar about Darnay – something familiar and sinister…
Madame Defarge runs a wine shop with her husband – but there’s more to her than that. She also runs a spy network where all members are referred to as “Jacques.” Madame Defarge, cruelly wronged by a French noble, decides to take revenge on all of the French aristocracy by supporting and engineering movements of the French Revolution. Her desire for revenge, however, remains unchecked by compassion and humanity; when she discovers Darnay’s secret, she decides he must die, and his family must perish with him…
While Dickens creates an engaging plot, some of his characters are not well-developed. For instance, both Lucie Manette and Charles Darnay are portrayed as good, noble characters; however, they seem to lack insecurities, major flaws, and other traits that make characters more believable. Despite its flaws, Dickens’ novel includes a complicated and refreshing plot. Additionally, the author’s tone serves to provide wry commentary on the historical period which the novel portrays, giving the book a few light moments amidst the overall darker tone of the French Revolution. To reiterate, although some characters are one-dimensional, the complex plot and author’s tone make A Tale of Two Cities a satisfying read.

~Ananya Swaminathan

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