Adam Bede – a psychological novel

Introduction: GEORGE ELIOT is one of the founding-fathers of the modern psychological novel. As W.J. Long points out, “GEORGE ELIOT sought to do in her novels what Browning attempted in his poetry. That is, to represent the inner struggle of a soul, and to reveal the motives, impulses and hereditary influences which govern human action.

Browning generally stops when he tells his story and either lets you draw your own conclusion or else gives you his in a few striking lines But GEORGE ELIOT is not content until she ahs minutely explained the motives of her characters and the moral lesson to be learnt from them. It is the development of a soul, the slow growth or decline of moral power, which chiefly interests her. The Characters of Dickens and Thackeray are already formed when we meet them and we know what they will do under certain circumstances, but GEORGE ELIOT’s characters    develop gradually as we come to know them. They go from weakness to strength and vice versa. ” Her novels are a study of mental processes. As A.E. Baker rightly points out, “GEORGE ELIOT’s sphere was the inner man, she exposed the internal clockwork. Her characters are not simply passive. They are shown making their own history, continually changing and developing as their motives  issue into acts and acts become a part of the circumstances that condition, modify and purify or demoralize the will. ” GEORGE ELIOT’s power of psycho-analysis and her understanding of mental processes are fully exposed in AB. Therefore, many critics have called AB the first psychological novel as later exemplified by Joyce and Woolf because the psychology of the main characters, Adam, Hetty, Arthur and the Poysers is the theme.

Analysis of causes and motives: The chapter called A Journey in hope; GEORGE ELIOT spends far more time in Hetty’s poor brain and heart than Hetty spends on the road in her unwise search for her runaway lover. This is psychology and the chapters immediately before and after this sufficient activity to keep the story rolling; there is much more inner activity than outer. GEORGE ELIOT is deft in her psychological approach. Shortly after the death of Thias Bede, his wife Lisbeth was in the Bede Home alone with the body. After doing the necessary ritual cleansing and purification of the chamber where Thias lay, she slumped into a chair and contemplated her grief. When GEORGE ELIOT’s characters think we share their thoughts. When Adam accidentally comes upon Arthur and Hetty embracing in the woods, Hetty scurries away, and Arthur saunter forwards to Adam. He thought, “After all, Adam was the bet who could have happened to see him and Hetty together: he was a sensible fellow and would not babble about it to other people. Arthur felt confident that he could laugh the thing off, and explain it away. ” But he misunderstood him.  GEORGE ELIOT’s grip on psychological essentials enables her to draw complex characters much better than her predecessors.
Temptation and Moral Chaos: The filed of her most characteristic triumphs is the moral battlefield. Her eagle eye can penetrate though the entire sock and the smoke of struggle. She is particularly good at showing how temptation triumphs. No other English novelist has given as so vivid a picture of the process of moral defeat, as Arthur’s gradual yielding to his passion for Hetty. She, with clearness, shows how temptation insinuates in the mind.  David Cecil says, “Her characters always hang together, are of a piece, their defects are the defects of their virtues. We are not surprised that a man, so anxious for the good opinion of others as Arthur Donnithorne, should selfishly seduce Hetty, because we realize that the controlling force in his character is the desire for immediate enjoyment.” With equal insight, she can portray the moral chaos that takes possession of the mind after wrong has been done. The guilt ridden conscious of Arthur is analyzed and we are shown the scorpions that sting him and prevent sleep. She lays bare the conscious and semi-conscious motives of Arthur. We see the workings of his innermost mind: He had been awake an hour, and could rest in bed no longer. In bed our yesterdays are too oppressive, if a man can only get up, though it is but to whistle or smoke, he has a present which resists the past. For Arthur, the loss of Adam’s respect was a shock to his self-contentment, which suffused his imagination with the sense he had sunk in all eyes; as a shock. Arthur would so gladly have persuaded himself that he had done no harm if no one had told him the contrary.
Conclusion: It is GEORGE ELIOT’s psychological insight into the springs of human action, the subtle analysis of character and motive accompanying the external action, which gives her peculiar and individual place among the Victorian novelists. She is one of them and yet how every different and original. She is the first of the great modern novelists who have a high conception of their art, who regard the novel as a serious art form, and who are given to the probing of the human psyche, to the subtle analysis of the subconscious and unconscious.

Plot-Construction and the Organic whole of the novel “Adam Bede”

A compact whole: The plot of AB is much better constructed than that of many other contemporary novels. This is so because the novel was not published in parts. It was not serialized in a magazine. There is not a single character or even in the whole of novel which doesn’t further its action. The novel is a compact whole. It is like a well-constructed building from not even a single brick can be taken out without damaging the whole structure. The novels are GEORGE ELIOT are ‘organic wholes’ in as much as the story, the character, the social environment are well-integrated. In AB, the life of Hayslope envelops the tragedy. It is an active society in which most men or women have work to and their characters are affected by that work.

Integrated Four stories and thematic unity: GEORGE ELIOT was quite alive to the problem of plot-construction. There are four different stories in the novel:  (a) Adam-Hetty love story, (b) Hetty-Arthur love story, (c) Adam-Dinah love story and (d) the mutual relations of Arthur and Adam. The problem was how to integrate the four stories into a single whole. The story of Hetty, the heroine of the novel who is seduced by the Squire and later convicted of a child murder forms the core of the novel.  The inter-linking of the various stories is made possible by the relation of Adam and Arthur to each other and to Hetty and the marriage of Adam and Dinah rounds up the whole and satisfies the contemporary conventions by linking the lives of the hero and heroine at the close. Even integrating the four stories has not kept away from the thematic unity of the novel. The theme is furthered by each action and event caused by the characters. The story grows up like a plant out of the idea or theme that, a failure to resist temptation is a moral weakness and any yielding to temptation is sure to followed divine punishment and consequent suffering. This theme is interlinked with the theme of moral enlightenment, self- education and regeneration. Such are the themes out of which the story evolves step-by-step, logically and the characters are their stories are exposition and illustration of these themes and ideas.
Social environment & the central tragedy: the central tragedy is intimately connected with this background. The full effect of Arthur Donnithorne’s yielding to the sensuous appeal of the pretty child-like Hetty depends on the relationship of the two to the world. The pride and well-grounded self-respect of the Poysers established in the reader’s mind by the vivid pictures of their surroundings, their working, their home life, their Sunday observance and the neighbors’ opinion of them, all play their part in causing the tragedy and in heightening the bitterness of its effect.  It is the social background that the Poysers have provided for their niece and the standard of conduct that make it inevitable for Hetty to take flight before the birth of her baby; it is the esteem in which they are held by which the reader measures their shame. Similarly, it is Arthur’s upbringing, his relations with his grandfather, his high conception of love and esteem, he will earn from all his dependants when he inherits the land that explain the price he pays for the weakness and his suffering. Not only are the story and characters integrated with their social environment, they are well-integrated in the present novel with their physical world.  They are symbolic of it. They have the softness and fertility of Loamshire and it hardness, its spiritual deadness. They are not receptive to religion, for their life of ease and self-indulgence has made them spiritually dead. Dinah serves as a link between the two physical worlds. She has come from Stonyshire, rocky, hard and barren, but the people there are more receptive to religion, they are spiritually better alive. So whenever she feels that she is going to be engulfed by the spiritual deadness of Loamshire, she retires to Stonyshire. It is also to be noted that nature-background changes in keeping with the change in the fortunes of poor Hetty. Her early happy life is lived in the physical environment of Hayslope; from here she goes to the barren and rocky Stonyshire where she is convicted and sentenced to death.
Major Flaws and Ending of the novel: Even best of us have their faults and weaknesses so does Adam Bede. Despite being the best constructed novel in the world, its ending has come in for a great deal of criticism. It has been pointed out that the marriage of Adam and Dinah Morris is not properly motivated, so it seems unnatural and forced. It is merely conventional that Hero and Heroin must be united at the close. George Eliot is first a philosopher and her critical and intellectual ability often impedes her artistry in telling a story. The author’s commentary sometimes holds up the story and makes it labored.  For example, the writer labels Hetty as the sinner and she considers Adam and Dinah well-nigh perfect, but the modern reader finds Adam a bore and Dinah an impossibly perfect.
Melodrama: The fight between Adam and Arthur in the wood is melodramatic and it was introduced at the suggestion of George Lewes. The story of seduction, a child-murder and conviction of an innocent girl, is the common stuff of a cheap melodrama. According to Robert Speaight, “Too much space has been taken up building up the background. (Give examples of her images and criticize.)” Joan Bennett says, “If the characterization of Dinah partially fails to produce the effect intended, it is not because she is too virtuous but because of the author’s treatment of the subject.”  Dinah is afraid to accept Adam because she thinks that her love would come in the way of her vocation. She retreats to Stoniton to ponder over the issue and accepts Adam when she meets him at the top of hill in Stoniton. Obviously, a change has come over her. But we are not permitted to see the process of this change and this is a major flaw in Dinah-Adam love story.
Arthur James sit eh severest critic of the close of the novel and his criticism is an epitome of all such criticism. He remarks, “The central figure of the novel is Hetty Sorrel and the story should have ended with the conviction of Hetty. The continuation of the story after the point is fatal to the artistry integrity of the novel. His marriage with Dinah waters off the real sorrow for the tragedy of Hetty. As matter of fact, the further end of the story is a matter for another novel.” Lettice Cooper’s comments are worth-noting here, “The weakness of the book, besides the oppressive virtue of Adam and Dinah is, as with many Victorian Novels, the sacrifice and probability to plot, and the tidiness of the ending. GEORGE ELIOT was moving towards a new kind of novel in which representation of life was to be more important than the plot. Despite all these life-like and natural situations and atmosphere drawn in AB, the marriage between Adam and Dinah seems like a mechanical device to round off the story.” However, Joan Bennett justifies the marriage of Adam and Dinah on the ground that it enables the novelist to put the last touch to her definition of Adam’s character. , to make him realize that there was too much of self and pride in him. A better justification fro the close of the novel is that life at Hayslope had been shaken and disturbed by the drama of Hetty and it has returned to normalcy because of Adam-Dinah marriage. George Creeger points out that Dinah-Adam marriage is not an anti-climax, but it essential, otherwise Dinah and Adam would remain incomplete human beings, for there can be no fulfillment without love. It also enables the novelist to point out the moral that common suffering results in sympathy and it is sympathy which is the basis of true love story. Sorrow is needed to make love true and lasting.
 Conclusion: The novel has its faults, but they are minor faults and they in no way detract from the novelist’s skill in construction. It should be judged in the context of the age in which it was written and not by modern standards. 

Adam Bede as a novel of Rural life

English Midland: GEORGE ELIOT began her career with a loving attachment to the region in which her youth was passed.  Her interest was in a particular locality – English Midland which had a powerful pull on her imagination. Even in the simplest of provincial situation, life is revealed clearly, wholly and in depth.  The Tragedy of Hetty Sorrel, a tragedy of Sophoclean intensity and grandeur, takes place in this rural setting.

Major divisions: The rural world in AB possesses two major divisions: the counties of Loamshire and Storyshire (With their villages, Hayslope and Snowfield). Loamshire – most of the action takes place here and around the village of Hayslope. Regarded together, the Midland-shire and village constitute a kind of earthly paradise. Loamshire is a region of corn and grass – a fertile and sheltered land. Prosperity is not common and poverty is rare. Exile from this snug land is regarded by its inhabitants as the worst evil so the Poysers don’t want to leave it. Stonyshire – throughout the novel we are reminded of a different kind of county which is naked and barren under the sky ‘where the trees are few, so that a child might count them, and there is very had living for the poor in the winter’ Poverty is common of these people. Loamshire is apparently soft and fertile, but it has a core of hardness, so also Hetty beautiful and soft apparently, there is hardness within her which is perceived by Mrs. Poyser. This is expressed in her ‘stubborn silence’ after the child-murder. Dinah tells Mr. Irwine, the Rector of Hayslope, “But I have noticed that in these villages where the people lead a quiet life among the green pastures and the still waters, there is a strange deadness to the world.” Loamshire people are spiritually dead, while those of Stonyshire are more responsive to religion, more spiritually awake though they live in a hard region.
Sight and scenes: The background against which the drama of AB takes place is picturesque and graphic and faithful descriptions of the region are abundant in the novel. Its scenes and sights, landmarks and customs, professions are transitions have been faithfully rendered. The geographical features such as inns, churches, mansions and road life have been honestly recorded. These sights and scenes play an important role in the novels of George Eliot. They appear and reappear in her novels and this imparts to them rare organic whole. The magic of the world works upon the reader in such a way that he finds himself passing through those instances of scenery. GEORGE ELIOT’s novels are highly pictorial and graphic in nature. She is a product of rustic and pastoral environment. She uses rich descriptions in this novel to provide a credible setting and to bring out the individual character of the setting and places where her characters live and to which they are bound by traditions, love, family, memory, work and affection. Finally, GEORGE ELIOT uses landscapes to define, reinforce and foreshadow the events of the plot and moral situation. There are many scenes in the novel which we should not merely pass over as background materials. Henry Auster. Mrs. Poyser is the voice of rural tradition and community, her home, the Hall Farm, provides a background that illustrates her character vividly. The Hall Farm is the center of orderliness, comfort, love, energy, security and peace. As Walter Allan says, “Mr. Poyser’s images with his similes from unripe grain, are those of he farmer: Mrs. Poyser’s those of the housewife.
Language, Professions & nature: According to Anne Morley, “We do not know if our literature anywhere possesses such a closely true picture of purely rural life as Adam Bede presents it.” The noblest achievement of GEORGE ELIOT in the novel is the fact that she has succeeded in conveying to us the quality or flavor of the life at Hayslope. Its rude language, its typical dialect and the people in the novel all truly represent the rustic life. The characters in the novel represent a cross-section of Midland occupations and professions. The carpenter, the preacher, the Rector, the clergy, the farmer, the dairy-maid and the dairy hands, the common laborers and the vain village girls are all present in the world painted by GEORGE ELIOT.
The symbolic word of Adam Bede: George Eliot communicates the meaning of her novel partially by employing symbolism in the description of the physical world in which her characters live. These patterns point up contrasts and support, by an appeal to the visual imagination, some of the book’s central ideas.
It is obvious that the names of the two counties mentioned in the novel and the names of the two towns where principal characters live are significant. Snowfield, Dinah’s home town, is located in Stonyshire; as the names indicate, this is a bleak, forbidding region in which people eke out a poor living on the rocky hills or else work in a factory. Hayslope in Loamshire, on the other hand, is a pleasant spot where the farmers are prosperous and the workers comfortable; there are no factories, but only small neighborhood businesses like Jonathan Burge’s workshop.
The “world” of the novel thus divides into light and dark, or hopeful and gloomy areas. Taking this world to represent life, we can see that Eliot is dividing experience into the pleasant and the unpleasant–giving us symbols for the “light” and “dark” sides of life. Dinah lives in Stonyshire; she is familiar with the darker side of life, accepts human suffering as necessary and inevitable, and knows how to deal with it. Adam, Arthur and Hetty, on the other hand, take a much more optimistic view of things and must learn what Dinah already knows. The crisis of the novel takes place in Stonyshire (in a town called Stoniton, as a matter of fact) and it is here that the three Loamshire people discover the meaning of “irremediable evil.”
This division is supported by another one–that between controlled and uncontrolled human actions. We noted in the commentaries that the seduction, the fight between Adam and Arthur, and Hetty’s abandonment of her child all take place in the woods. These actions, prompted by “natural” urges rather than by a “civilized” use of intellect and will, form one of the two primary causes of suffering in the novel.
The other cause is that part of reality which is beyond man’s control. This area of human experience is symbolized by the tapping at the door in Chapter 4 which, though a superstition, turns out to be a valid portent of death, by the force of blind circumstances, and by God. Religion in George Eliot’s novels seems to mean a respectful attitude towards the great unknown. Dinah, the completely religious woman, realistically recognizes the existence of evil and is patient and humble. Adam, who is religious in a naturalistic way, and Arthur and Hetty, who are not religious at all, have pride in them and must learn humility through experience.
Thus the world of the novel is set up to show that man must recognize that life has its less pleasant side and that suffering derives from the nature of things and from a lack of self-control. Like Dinah and Mr. Irwine, he must act upon this knowledge, avoiding evil whenever possible, accepting and dealing with it when it cannot he avoided.

Individualized portrayal of characters in A TALE OF TWO CITIES

A diversity of characters: Dickens is one of the greatest creators of characters in English fiction. A mere glance of at the list of persons who figure in any of his novels is enough to remind us of the author’s amazing fertility in invention. He has portrayed a whole variety of characters such as David Copperfield, Pip, Trotwood and Sam Weller. There is no dearth of real and unique characters in his works.


Dialogue vs. Incident: A TALE OF TWO CITIES affords ample evidence of Dickens’ capacity for character –portrayal. The range of characters in A TALE OF TWO CITIES is wide and has deep and penetrating studies. Some of the figures like Monsieur Defarge and Madame Defarge are memorable. Dickens purpose in the case of this novel was to allow the characters to reveal themselves through incidents and through their deeds and actions rather than through dialogues, but it is wrong to assume that he ignores dialogues. They are as important as the actions. John Forster, his friend and biographer says, “To rely less upon character than upon incident  and to resolve that his actors should be expressed by the story more than they should express themselves by dialogue, was for him a hazardous and can hardly be called an entirely successful experiment.”
The characters are sharply individualized: The characters of A TALE OF TWO CITIES have been sharply been individualized. Each character is a distinct person in his or her own right.  (Describe their individual qualities to distinguish them.)
The Character of Dr. Manette: discuss his role in the novel/ his habit of shoe-making and condition of inaction/ his performance at the end of the novel/ his salient qualities/ his insanity/ father-daughter relationship etc./ his responsibility at the attendance of a sick girl and boy wronged by the Evremonde family/ His prison.
Charles Darnay: Charles Darnay too reveals the essential traits of his character through dialogue. Of course, one of his basic traits appears through action also. His help to Gabelle/ his renunciation/ his love with Lucie/ his sincerity: He says to Dr. Manette:   
Dear Dr. Manette, I love your daughter fondly,  dearly, disinterestedly devotedly. If ever there were love in the world, I love her.”
So we can say that dialogue and incident play an important part in the novel.
Sydney Carton: We then come to Sydney whose action is giving up his life for the sake of the husband of the woman whom he loves is great importance. Carton’s character appears before us only through dialogues.  He has a conversation with Darnay immediately after his acquittal at the Old Bailey. Carton says that he cares for no body in the world and no body cares about him. He looks into the mirror and says that he hates Darnay even though there is a physical resemblance between the two. A dialogue between Carton and Stryver reveals that the former is a “see-saw” kind of man. Up one minute and down the next. He expresses his love for Lucie in a dialogue and says that he is a profligate.  Describe his aspects of personality from the above answers.
Mr. Lorry: The character of Mr. Lorry is also revealed to us through dialogue. In the beginning, he has a long conversation with Lucie where he appears to be “a man of business” and describes himself as such. He has a dialogue with Miss Pross about his concern for Dr. Manette. Towards to end, he rebukes Jerry for his impious activities. Describe some of his aspects.
Miss Pross, Jerry Cruncher & Stryver: write from their humorous activities above.

The Defarges: write from above information.

Bring out the comic elements in A Tale of Two Cities

Introduction: A TALE OF TWO CITIES is a preponderantly serious and tragic novel. But it is not lacking in humor. According to some critics, this novel is notoriously deficient in humor. But to expect too much humor in a novel which is designed as a tragedy would evidently be absurd. Too much humor would have weakened and diluted the emotional effect. Despite it tragic scenes and awesome symbolic images, the novel does have comic scenes. Two or three chapters which deal with Mr. Stryver and his plans to marry Lucie are highly comic. The two or three chapters dealing with Jerry Cruncher and his family life are also humorous. Then there are some scenes and a number of casual observations which amuse us by their irony or their satirical quality.

Miss Pross – a source of comedy: Miss Pross is obviously intended to be a comic character, but she has a serious side to her personality. She is deeply attached to her mistress. She amuses us by her eccentric behavior and talk on the very first occasion when we meet her in the novel. The very manner in which she is described is comic: “A wild-looking woman, all of a red color, having red hair, dressed in an extraordinary tight-fitting fashion. She lays “a brawny hand upon Mr. Lorry’s chest” and sends him flying back against the wall. The powerful push makes Mr. Lorry think that the attacker must be a man. Then she amuses us by her fussy manner. She orders servants to go and bring smelling salts, cold water, vinegar, etc. Turning to the unconscious Lucie’s eh begins to tend her with great gentleness, calling her “My precious and my bird” and spreading Lucie’s golden hair aside over her shoulders with great pride and care. She asks Mr. Lorry what kind of a banker he is to have frightened a young girl to death. It is a brief episode but a very amusing one. On one of his visits to the house, Mr. Lorry is told by her that “Dozens of people” have started visiting the house. On being asked by Mr. Lorry if really dozens of people have started visiting the house. She replies “Hundreds”. The author thereupon makes the humorous comment that it was characteristic of this lady that, “Whenever her original proposition was questioned, she exaggerated it.” She goes on to tell Mr. Lorry that “Crowds and multitudes” of people have started paying visits to the house and have begun to take Lucie’s affections away from her. The real fact is that Mr. Lorry, Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay are the only visitors who come to see Lucie and her father. But she feels irritated with those comers with whom she has to spend much time and she feels jealous of such visitors, so she says hundreds of people are visiting the house. Another moment of her comic presentation is when she confronts Madame Defarge. It the most important scene in which Defarge is killed in conflict with Miss Pross. This is no doubt is serious scene, but Miss Pross’ participation in the scene makes it comic. She never hits any one in all her life, but she braces herself for a physical contest. Madame Defarge advances and Miss Pross says, “I am a Briton and I am desperate, don’t care an English two pence for myself. I know the longer I keep you here, the greater hope there is for my Lady bird.”
Jerry Cruncher and his expedition: Jerry Cruncher too is meant to be a comic character. When he passes the message to Mr. Lorry, “Recalled to Life” he is puzzled and bewildered by the wording of the message and thinks that Mr. Lorry must have been drunk when the spoke those words.  Jerry tells himself that he would be in a, “blazing bad way if recalling to life were to come into fashion”. We realize the significance of this remark when later we find Jerry digging dead bodies to sell them to a surgeon. If recalling to life will come into fashion, Jerry will lose his business. This is a comic touch of Jerry, but the most interesting and comic scene is presented in his family life. Jerry has a feeling that his wife is always praying against his prosperity. Whenever he finds her praying, he says “What do you mean by flopping yourself down and praying against me?” She replies she is not against but for him. He says, “You weren’t”. He then instigates his son against her mother. He snubs and beats his wife. He constantly calls himself “an honest tradesman”. All these peculiarities of Jerry Cruncher like the eccentricities of Miss Pross are humorous.  The whole account of Jerry Cruncher’s fishing expedition is comic. He told his wife and son that he would be going fishing that night with some friends. Actually having seen the funeral of Roger Cly he had decided to go to the graveyard with his friends to dig out his body to sell to the surgeons. Jerry’s son feeling inquisitive about his father’s mysterious activities went after them. Eventually, he sees his father and some mend digging out coffin from the grave. He feels so frightened that he runs back home feeling all the time being chased by the coffin. The next morning, Jerry gives his wife a nice beating because he found no success in his fishing expedition on account of her prayers against him. The coffin was found to contain stones and dust and no dead body. Later, Young Jerry asks his father what a Resurrection Man is. At first, Jerry evades the question but later replies that a Resurrection Man is an honest tradesman who deals in scientific goods. Young Jerry says that he would also like to be one and Jerry inwardly congratulates himself for his son’s ambition. Later in the final part of the novel, he seems to be repentant of his sins and makes two promises to Miss Pross. That he will never take those poor things out and that he will never interfere with his wife’s flopping. Pross is not able to understand, but these promises give a slight comic touch to the situation.
Mr. Stryver – a source of comedy: Mr. Stryver is another comic character about whom the writer says that he had a way of “shouldering himself morally and physically into companies and conversations.” He is proud of his success and wealth and pompously exhibits them before Carton, but is too foolish to understand that a girl doesn’t want only those things. He proposes to Lucie but is rejected and later gets married to a rich widow with three sons. He often boasts that a girl called Lucie has always tried to cA Tale of Two Citiesh him as a husband but he was never caught by her.
Amusing touches in Mr. Lorry’s Portrayal: Although Lorry is a serious man, but there are some humorous touches to his personality. He repeatedly calls himself “a man of business” when he refers to any work he says “a matter of business”. In other words, Lorry has humorous mannerism. On one occasion, Lorry says to Miss Pross, “I am a mere dull man of business, and you are a woman of business”.
Ironic Remarks and Comments: There are a number of ironic remarks in the novel which provide humor of the reader. The writer says that “Madame Defarge saw nothing” actually she every thing and nothing could escape his vigilant eyes. There is also irony in the description of Tellison’s Bank. We are told that the partners who ran this back, “were proud of its smallness, proud of its incommodious, proud of its darkness, proud of its ugliness.” These ironic remarks also provoke a smile if not a laughter.

Dickens’ use of symbolism in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’

Introduction: A TALE OF TWO CITIES contains an abundant use of symbols and symbolic imagery. Symbolism implies the use of an object, an idea, or a person in a larger or wider deeper sense than is literary conveyed by that object. An employs symbolism in order to give a deeper meaning to his writing. Symbolism is an essential element in the structure of the novel.

The Woodman and the Farmer as Symbols: The Woodman symbolizes Fate ad the Farmer is symbolizing Death. The author says that they work silently and no one hears them when they walk with their muffled steps. They work like Fate and Death silently and these are the two forces which destroy France.
Journey of the Mail-Coach: The manner in which the writer describes the journey of the mail-couch is also highly symbolic. It is an uphill journey; the hill, the harness, the mud and the mail give the horses a tough time. The horses, however, continue with their drooping heads. There is also an atmosphere of suspicion all over. The rough journey and the air of suspicion around signifies the following crisis for the Manette family and the turmoil for the land of France.
The Spilling of Wine: A striking use of symbolism is made in the chapter called, “The Wine-Shop”. A cask of wine gets broken in the street by accident and the wine is spilled on the ground. This red wine paints and stains the streets of Saint Antoine in Paris symbolizing the bloodshed and massacre looming over the country. Many people rush towards it to drink mouthfuls of wine. The people’s hands and foot are stained red by the wine. This symbol becomes perfectly explicit when some body dips his fingers in the wine and scrawls upon a wall the word “blood”. The author comments on his action: “The time was to come, when that wine too would be spilled on the street-stones and when the stain of it would be red upon many there.”
The Mill, the Grindstone, and the Carmagnole: In the same chapter, Mill has been symbolized. Literally, a mill of course, grinds wheat into flour which serves as food fro the human beings. Here the mill performs a different function. Here we are told that the people of Saint Antoine had undergone a terrible grinding and re-grinding in the mill. The writer says that the children in this superb had “ancient faces and grave voices” and the sign of Hunger is apparent upon the faces of the children, the young and the old. So the mill is not grinding wheat for the people, adversely it is grinding the people themselves. In the later case, the revolutionaries are described as sharpening their bloody hA Tale of Two Citieshets, knives and swords at a grindstone. Both the mill and the grindstone are the symbols of destruction which the people in France face. Allied with these two symbols and with the symbol of the spilled wine, is the account of the Carmagnole which also occurs in the final part of the novel. The dancing of the Carmagnole is a dreadful sight for spectators like Lucie
The Echoing Steps: In the chapter called “Hundreds of People” Lucie, in her conversation tells the others that she has often sat alone in a corner of the house in the evenings, listening to the echoes of all the footsteps which are to come by and by into their lives. Sydney Carton thereupon remarks that, “If such be the case, there will be a great crowd coming one day into the lives of all of them.” The whole scene is symbolic. Lucie says that she hears footsteps and Sydney remarks that a crowd will come into the lives of all. Just then there is a roar of clouds and a flash of lightening. All these are the indications of the coming of a great tempest in their lives in the form of French Revolution when people will be in the state of turmoil and the Manette family will get involved with those multitudes.
The Bastille, a Symbol of Tyranny: The Bastille is another symbol. Hundreds of prisoners have been languishing in this prison for years and years, neglected, un-cared and almost forgotten and dead. The inhabitants of Saint Antoine, under the leadership of Monsieur and Madame Defarge, march upon the Bastille and capture it. Their jubilation knows no bounds. The governor is seized and Madame Defarge herself cut off his head with a knife.
La Guillotine, symbol of excesses: La Guillotine symbolizes the excess committed by the revolutionaries. If the Bastille was the symbol of tyranny and the government of the King Louis XVI, La Guillotine has reversed the process. La Guillotine has become, “The National Razor which shaved close.”  It is regarded as the sign of regeneration of the human race.  The eloquent, the powerful and the beautiful are all being mercilessly beheaded. La Guillotine is a symbol of the tyrannies, the brutalities which are committed by the down-trodden and poor revolutionaries. La Guillotine is an ugly and hateful symbol as the Bastille previously was.
Madame Defarge, Miss Pross and Carton as Symbols: Madame Defarge symbolizes unlimited hatred and evil. She certainly has motive and reason for her revengeful and blood-thirsty attitude but all her vindictiveness and blood-ruthlessness cannot be explained in terms of those motive and reasons. She is the personification of hatred, revenge and violence. Her knitting requires a sinister significance because in her knitting are registered those who must be exterminated from the ground. Miss Pross on other hand is a personification of love. Her attachment to Lucie is deep and abiding. In the tussle between Madame Defarge and Miss Pross, the Frenchwoman is killed by a bullet from her own hands thus symbolically representing that truth prevails and evil is self-destructive. Sydney Carton has a symbolic purpose. His sacrificial death symbolizes the way by which the highest human aspirations can be achieved and also the means by which a profligate can attain regeneration.
Opposed Symbols of Life and Death: William H. Marshall tells us that A TALE OF TWO CITIES is a story about rebirth through death and that therefore, Dickens gives us opposed symbols of life and death. These symbols, he says, take the form of images of food and destruction. The symbol of death seems to triumph over the symbol of life. Briefly state the previous symbols in ref. to the critic.

Major Themes of the Novel "A Tale of Two Cities"

Resurrection and Renunciation: A TALE OF TWO CITIES is rich in meaning and significance because it deals with several themes all of which have been skillfully coordinated and integrated with another. Some of these themes are obvious and others are less obvious and need careful examination. Dickens shows grand objectivity of historical events, but also shows personal projection in the novel.

However, A TALE OF TWO CITIES is a highly impersonal work with multiplicity of themes.  Resurrection is indeed the central theme of A TALE OF TWO CITIES. Resurrection here takes a variety of forms, and almost at every stage, we witness some manifestation of it. Resurrection has, of course, a religious connotation and generally calls up the image of Jesus Christ rising from his grave on the third day of his Crucifixion. But here resurrection requires a secular meaning. In addition to its religious meaning. Related to this is the theme of renunciation. Dickens makes use these twin themes in a very elaborate manner. Dickens derived both of these themes from Wilkie Collin’s play, The Frozen Deep in the performances of which Dickens himself had taken part as an actor.

The resurrection of Dr Manette: First Resurrection: The theme of resurrection is introduced at the very beginning when Mr. Lorry, who is traveling by the mail-coach top Dover, sends a message to Tellison’s Bank through the messenger, Jerry Cruncher. The words of Mr. Lorry‘s message are “Recalled to Life”. (Give summary of Dr. Manette’s story) Mr. Lorry begins to feel drowsy and it seems to him that he is going to Paris in order to dig out a dead man from the grave where he had been long buried. When Lorry meets Dr. Manette, it is truly a resurrection or rebirth after death for Dr. Manette.   Second Resurrection: Normal life and living with his daughter, starting his medical practice and his giving up the habit of shoe-making and the return of sanity is his second resurrection.
Charles Darnay’s Resurrection: Give Darnay’s account of Old Bailey where Dr. Manette, Lucie and Carton are present and Darnay is resurrected because of Sydney Carton from a serious crime of treason against England. Darnay’s second resurrection: When he is caught in Paris and is prisoned for fifteen months at La Force and is resurrected by the influence of Dr. Manette. (Give account of case and the prevailing condition of Paris after the revolution). Darnay’s third resurrection: which is the most important. Dr. Manette’s written paper discovered from his cell is read out in the court and Darnay is sentenced to death, but his death is replaced by Sydney Carton, a kind fellow. (Give an account his story at the prison). This is his third resurrection. This time he has almost been taken out of his grave.
The Resurrection of Carton: Though Carton dies, but he achieves a resurrection in two senses: Firstly, his death constitutes a spiritual resurrection for him. By this sacrificial death, Carton who has been leading a life of profligacy, is morally regenerated. This moral regeneration or redemption is a kind of resurrection for him. Secondly, when Carton conceives his bold plan to save Darnay’s life, the words of the Christian Burial Service are  echo in his ears, “I am the Resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me though he were dead yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” Carton had heard these words at the time of his father’s funeral, and these words now come to him as a promise that the man who believes in Lord Jesus Christ never dies. These words echo in his ears when he is actually going to be executed. Thus, Carton dies, feeling sure that he will find himself alive in another world. Carton dies with the certainty of resurrection.
The Grotesque resurrection of Cly: There are comic and serious resurrections. Resurrection in this novel assumes some comic and grotesque forms also. Roger Cly, a spy, is believed to have died and been buried in the graveyard of Saint Pancras’s Church, but later we find him alive in Paris at his old occupation of spying. So a man who was thought to be dead, came to life is also a kind of comic resurrection. His normal funeral ceremonies were performed and he was buried to avoid the wrath of certain person who had become hostile to him in London.
The comic resurrection of Solomon (Barsad): Another comic example of resurrection is Barsad – Miss Pross’ brother whom she had almost given up as dead, but he appears in Paris. Miss Pross unexpectedly sees him and is astonished, though he feels greatly embarrassed to be recognized by her.
Jerry Cruncher – A Resurrection Man: Another example of the grotesque type of resurrection is to be found in the nefarious business which Jerry Cruncher is pursuing in order to supplement his income. He and his associates dig out newly-buried coffins from their graves and take out the dead bodies in order to sell them to a surgeon for medical purposes. Young Jerry has espied his father at this kind of work and he too aspires to become “A resurrection man.”
Resurrection in the sense of Political and Social regeneration: Finally, resurrection, for the purpose of this novel, may also be taken to mean political and social regeneration. The French People having been oppressed and exploited for centuries have been clamoring for a new political and social order without any success. Ultimately they rise in revolt against the established authority and try to being about sweeping reforms. Of course, their action involves unheard-of-criminal acts. The moral of the French Revolution, according to Dickens is that the upper classes everywhere should take a warning from what happened in France and should mend their ways in order to see that the poor are contented and happy.
Renunciation as a theme: The other theme, less prominent but more valuable, is renunciation. It is through a renunciation of his claim to the family estate and the family title that Charles Darnay attains a heroic stature in our eyes. When Charles Darnay was still a child, his mother had imposed a duty on him and he had bravely promised to keep faith with her. On growing up, he decides to give up his claim to the family inheritance because he realizes that the family to which he belongs had done many wrongs to the poor people. To him the family inheritance signifies, “a crumbling tower of waste”. This act of his shows his generous heart, a spirit of self-sacrifice indicative of his humanitarian instincts.
Social injustice, violence, bloodshed and imprisonment as themes of the novel: Among the various themes of this novel is the social injustice. This theme is related of course, to the French Revolution which was largely a result of those oppressive classes. The first glimpse of social injustice is given in the chapter called the Wine-Shop. When the wine from the broken cask is spilled on the ground symbolize bloodshed in the streets of Paris and the hunger and poverty of the people who rush to drink it. The incident of the child being run over by Marquis’s carriage. He scolds the people for not caring about their children and spins a coin for the bereaved father as if for the compensation of the death of the child. The most shocking example of social injustice is the prolonged imprisonment of Dr. Manette has recorded the circumstances under which he was made a prisoner is hair-raising.  A TALE OF TWO CITIES is deeply colored by Dickens’ early experiences in life and by what was happening to his emotional life when he started writing this novel. Early in his life, he had been a miserable witness to the imprisonment of his father which had left an unforgettable impression upon his mind. Prison and Imprisonment are two themes always present in various novels of Charles Dickens. Almost every body in A TALE OF TWO CITIES is in prison.
Doubling as a theme: The two lovers of Lucie seem to symbolize the duality in Dickens’s own heart. Darnay and Carton who physically resemble each other were self-projections by Dickens. These two men represent the two different sides of Dickens’s literary personality. Darnay represents the light, sunny and optimistic aspect of Dickens’ personality who goes to France to help Gabelle without releasing the dangers he will face there. And Carton, on the other hand, represents the dark aspect of Dickens who loves Lucie but denies her by describing her as “a golden-haired doll” and he fails to claim her. Dickens’ own optimistic mood is reflected in the novel.  Doubling is also a theme in the sense that every thing in the novel is double. Double appearances, madness and sanity recurrences, the double arrest of Darnay, his double resurrection and Darnay’s and Carton’s love for Lucie is also a triangle. Doubling is a technique of symbolism in the fantasizing of reality, reappears throughout the book. The most obvious example is physical resemblance of Darnay and Carton. These two personalities represent two different worlds the social and collective on the one hand and the individual and subjective on the other. Madame Defarge is an instructive example of Dickens’ attempt throughout this novel to identity fantasy with reality, as in his own life. This is Dickens’ most personal novel in one way and the most impersonal in the other.