A Tale of Two Cities Introduction to the Novel
Background Into the Novel • Dickens believed that public history was private history as well. • He took a highly public event (French Revolution) and created a story of a family within it. The family’s story is not an isolated event; rather, the public event influences the behavior and thoughts of the individual characters. • He tried to make the events of the French Revolution understandable by portraying the personal struggles of one group of people.
Background Into the Novel • Dickens was facing a personal crisis in his own life when he wrote ATOTC. • He was under public scrutiny for an alleged affair during his marriage. • He felt like he was living a DOUBLE life because he was misunderstood by the public, but he was also a troubled man. • Notice two characters in the novel who seem to be opposites of one another, and who may portray what Dickens was experiencing in his personal life. • DOUBLES is a recurring MOTIF throughout the novel.
Background Into the Novel • Doubles can be seen throughout the book: • Sentence #1 • Journeying between London & Paris (two cities) • Captivity & Freedom • Life & Death • Characters (opposites of each other)
A Tale of Two CitiesAnalysis of Sentence #1 • Tale: Sentence #1 Activity - • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring ofhope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”
A Tale of Two CitiesAnalysis of Sentence #1 1-2. Look at the pairs of words. What subjects are repeated? 3. Look for 3 unfamiliar vocabulary words. Define them based on context clues. 4. Paraphrase the entire sentence. 5. How could this apply to 2009? Itemize your ideas in the table. 6. Create a new sentence using your ideas from the table.
A Tale of Two CitiesAnalysis of Sentence #1 • Any particular syntactical structure? • What is the effect of the structure? Does it create a rhythm? • What is Dickens trying to do with the use of anaphora?
A Tale of Two CitiesAnalysis of Sentence #1 • Anaphora is used to • BALANCE two completely opposite ideas; shows an EQUAL MATCH in the struggle between each idea • demonstrate TENSION between opposites (or, doubles) - like a see-saw because these doubles are constantly at war…notice what else is in this book is at war: tension shown in words, syntax, themes, even groups of people like nobility VS commoners) • show CONSTANT STATE OF STRUGGLE between black and white ideas – does that mean the world will never fit into a “grey” area? • create RHYTHMIC pattern
A Tale of Two CitiesAnalysis of Sentence #1 • This sentence reflects Dickens’s dark view of British society (1859) • Best of times for England’s wealthy • Worst of times for England’s poor (hungry, disease, poverty, ignorance characterized the poor) • This was the setup for the French Revolution – the French elite were experiencing the best, the French poor were experiencing the worst. • Dickens believed that a social upheaval, like the one that shook France, would be England’s fate.
Chapter 1: The Period(Summary) • In the year 1775 conditions were brutal for the people of England and France. Both were ruled by a king and queen and the times were often violent and terrible. • Particularly in France, the nobles lived in luxury and were sure that they and the king ruled by divine right and that nothing would ever change. The general populace suffered from starvation, disease, and deprivation and were growing impatient for change.
Dickensian Style • He used techniques to show great moral force and physical immediacy. • Annotate for: • Imagery (vivid scenes) • Repetition • Dramatic moments • Characters who represent IDEAS (notice that one character does not even have a name)
Dickensian Style • More Dickensian techniques to annotate for: • Chapter titles/meanings • Foreshadowing • Chapter endings (cliffhangers – the chapters of ATOTC were originally published in a magazine; he needed to keep his readers “on edge” for the next installment)
ATOTC: Themes • Thematic Ideas (more to annotate for!) • Justice by revenge • The effect of adversity/crisis on an individual • Duty vs. Desire • Corruption in the ruling class • Honor vs. Dishonor
Literary Circles - A Tale of Two CitiesPre-reading Activity: Book the First • Analyze how Dickens uses parallelism to state themes that might be developed in the novel. Use examples from Book the 1st that continue the development of themes introduced in the opening paragraph. • Provide 2 examples of parallelism • Provide 1 example of another syntactical structure • Provide 1 theme statement that could be expressed based on the parallelism illustrated through chapters 1 and 2 • *(answer at the end of Book 1st reading) How is the opening paragraph further developed in the Book the First?