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Frankenstein Essay Research Paper A Tale of

Frankenstein Essay, Research Paper

A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities opens in the year 1775, with the narrator

comparing conditions in England and France, and foreshadowing the

coming of the French Revolution. The first action is Jarvis Lorry’s night

journey from London, where he serves as an agent for Tellson’s Bank.

The next afternoon, in a Dover inn, Lorry meets with Lucie Manette,

a seventeen-year-old French orphan raised in England. Lorry tells

Lucie that her father, the physician Alexandre Manette, is not dead as

she’s always believed. Dr. Manette has just been released from years

of secret imprisonment in the Paris prison, the Bastille.

Lorry escorts Lucie across the English Channel to a house in a

poor Paris suburb where her father, in a dazed state from long

solitary confinement, confusedly works at the shoemaker’s trade he

learned in prison. Dr. Manette has been taken care of by Ernest

Defarge, a former servant of the Manette family, now the keeper of a

wine shop. Defarge and his wife- a strong-looking, confident woman-

appear to be engaged in antigovernment activity. Lucie is saddened

by her father’s state and, resolving to restore him to himself, she

and Lorry carry the doctor back to England.

Five years pass. In London, at Old Bailey (the courthouse) we meet

Charles Darnay, a French expatriate who is on trial for treason. Lucie

Manette and Jarvis Lorry both testify that they met Darnay on their

return trip across the Channel five years earlier. John Barsad, an

English spy, swears that Darnay’s purpose in traveling was to plot

treason against England. Darnay is acquitted when his lawyer, Stryver,

shatters a witness’ identification by pointing at Darnay’s uncanny

resemblance to Sydney Carton- a brilliant but dissolute lawyer who

is wasting his talents in poorly paid servitude to Stryver.

Lucie and her father- who has regained his faculties and returned to

medical practice- now live happily in a quiet corner of Soho with

Lucie’s fiercely loyal companion, Miss Pross. They are frequently

visited by Lorry (now a close family friend), Darnay, and Carton.

Lucie imagines hearing “hundreds of footsteps” thundering into her

life- a fantasy that in fact foreshadows the revolutionary strife in

France.

The scene shifts to France. Driving in his carriage through the

streets of Paris, the cruel Marquis St. Evremonde runs over and

kills a poor man’s child. We learn that the Marquis is Charles

Darnay’s uncle (out of shame for his wicked male forebears, Darnay had

changed his name from St. Evremonde to the English-sounding Darnay).

Meeting the Marquis at the St. Evremonde chateau, Darnay says he

will renounce the family property when he inherits to show his disgust

with the aristocracy. St. Evremonde expresses his hate of his

nephew, and his continued support of the old, unjust order. The next

morning the Marquis is found stabbed to death. Gaspard, the father

of the boy the Marquis ran over, has killed him as an act of

vengeance.

Back in England again, Darnay becomes engaged to Lucie. Sydney

Carton also declares his hopeless, lasting devotion to Lucie, and vows

he would give his life to save anyone dear to her.

Barsad, now a spy for the French monarchy, tips off the

Defarges in Paris to the impending marriage of Lucie and Darnay.

Privately and meaningfully, Monsieur Defarge comments that he hopes

destiny will keep Lucie’s husband out of France.

The marriage ceremony, together with a story Darnay has told about

discovering hidden papers in a prison, send Dr. Manette into

amnesiac shock. For nine days, until Miss Pross and Jarvis Lorry

pull him out of it, he reverts to his former shoemaking habits. We

learn later that on the wedding morning, Dr. Manette secured

Darnay’s promise not to reveal his true name- St. Evremonde- to

anyone, not even Lucie.

Paris, 1789: the French Revolution breaks out. Defarge leads the

attack on the Bastille, while his wife marshals the revolutionary

women. In the country rebellious peasants burn down the St.

Evremonde chateau. Gabelle, the property’s rent and tax collector,

is eventually arrested and thrown into Paris’ L’Abbaye prison. Rushing

overseas, Darnay is at once seized by the revolutionaries as an

aristocrat, and flung into another prison, La Force. Lucie, her

young daughter, Miss Pross, and Dr. Manette rush to Darnay’s aid,

lodging in Paris near Jarvis Lorry, who’s there on business.

As an ex-Bastille prisoner, Dr. Manette has sufficient influence

to visit his son-in-law in La Force, but he is unable to free

Darnay. For fifteen months Lucie stands each afternoon outside of La

Force, praying that Charles may catch a glimpse of her. The Terror

is in full swing, the guillotine “shaving” innocent and aristocratic

heads alike.

At last Darnay is brought up before the French Tribunal. He is

released through the testimony of Dr. Manette and the long-suffering

Gabelle. But the very night of his freedom the Defarges and “one

other” denounce Darnay. On the spot, he is hauled back to the

Conciergerie, the scene of his trial. Ignorant of the disaster, Miss

Pross and Jerry Cruncher, Lorry’s jack-of-all-trades, go shopping

for provisions and encounter Miss Pross’ long-lost brother, Solomon.

Cruncher recognizes Solomon as the spy-witness John Barsad who once

testified against Darnay.

Suddenly Sydney Carton is on the scene (he has come to Paris to help

his friends). Leading Barsad off to Tellson’s headquarters for a

meeting, Carton informs Jarvis Lorry that Darnay has been

rearrested, and forces Barsad to cooperate with him by threatening

to reveal the spy’s turncoat maneuvers. Currently in the pay of the

revolutionaries, Barsad’s job is to spy on their prisoners, and so

he has access to Darnay in the Conciergerie. Carton sets a secret plan

in motion, using Barsad.

Darnay’s retrial the next morning produces a sensation. A journal

discovered by Defarge in Dr. Manette’s old cell at the Bastille is

read aloud to the Tribunal. In his journal Dr. Manette blames his

arrest on two brothers of the St. Evremonde family who had summoned

him to their country house to treat a young peasant wife the younger

St. Evremonde had raped. The woman’s brother lay beyond treatment,

dying from a wound received when he tried to attack the rapist.

After both the brother and sister had died, Dr. Manette received a

visit in his home from the elder St. Evremonde’s wife and her small

son, Charles Darnay. The Marquise St. Evremonde believed the dead

woman had a sister, and wished to make reparations to her. Dr. Manette

attempted to reveal the St. Evremonde brothers’ infamy, but they

arranged for him to be arrested and put in jail. Dr. Manette ended his

story with a curse on the whole St. Evremonde clan, and hid the

document in a hole in the chimney. On this evidence Charles Darnay

is condemned for his ancestors’ evil deeds, and is sentenced to die in

24 hours.

After the verdict, Sydney Carton, drinking in the Defarge wine shop,

overhears Madame Defarge announce that she is the missing sister,

the last survivor of the family exterminated by the St. Evremondes.

She swears to complete her vengeance by wiping out all of Darnay’s

relations- Lucie, her little girl, and even Dr. Manette himself.

Carton goes to Jarvis Lorry’s lodgings where both men receive Dr.

Manette, who, from the shock of Charles’ condemnation has again

slipped into his amnesiac-shoemaker role. Carton warns Lorry of Madame Defarge’s murderous intentions, and they plan an escape from the

country. Carton tells Lorry to keep the proper papers ready, and

when Carton appears at two the next afternoon, all- including Lucie

and her child- will ride swiftly away.

The following day, Carton enters Darnay’s cell, drugs him, and

exchanges clothes with him. Carton intends to take Darnay’s place on

the guillotine, and thus fulfill his old promise to give his life

for anyone dear to Lucie. As agreed, Barsad hurries Darnay’s

unconscious body- dressed as Carton- out of the Conciergerie to the

coach where Jarvis Lorry’s party awaits. All flee successfully.

In the meantime Miss Pross, alone in the Manette apartment, has a

grim meeting with Madame Defarge, who has come armed with pistol and

knife to take her personal revenge. There is a struggle and the pistol

fires, killing Madame Defarge and forever deafening Miss Pross.

Nonetheless, she is able to meet Jerry Cruncher as they have

planned, and escape.

Sydney Carton goes to the guillotine with dignity. (For the first

time Madame Defarge’s ringside seat is vacant.) He comforts a little

seamstress, has a final vision of better times ahead, and reflects:

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is

a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”




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