The era surrounding the French Revolution was a horrifically bloody and violent period of history – the best of times and the worst of times. The violence enacted by the citizens of French on their fellow countrymen set a gruesome scene in the cities and country sides of France. Charles Dickens uses a palate of storm, wine, and blood imagery in A Tale of Two Cities to paint exactly how tremendously brutal this period of time was.
Dickens use of storm imagery throughout his novel illustrates to the reader the tremulous, fierce, and explosive time period in which the course of events takes place. Dicken’s use of illustrating storms throughout the novel serves the important purpose of showing the reader how the events of the French Revolution not only affected Charles Darnay’s life, but the wellbeing of France as a whole. In the streets of St. Antoine, as the wine cart crashes spilling wine everywhere, a storm seemingly settles on Paris, casting shadows and fear much in the same way a strong tempest strikes up doubt and concern in the hearts of men, “now that the cloud settled on Saint Antoine, which a momentary gleam had driven from his sacred countenance, the darkness of it was heavy- cold, dirt, sickness, ignorance, and want” (33). The imagery of a storm in the streets of St. Antoine foreshadows the coming ferocity and brutality of the French Revolution and the sheer terror it cast in the hearts of most men. As Defarge, one of the leading revolutionaries, talks to his wife in the wine-shop, Dickens relates the attempts of the common man to depose the nobility to storms: “It does not take a long time to strike a man with lightning” (177). The lightning of which he speaks can be related to the ferocity and swiftness of the revoluti…
…derestimated power, and the blood it produced are a reminder of the brutality of the French Revolution, a period Dickens so accurately paints red with the blood of the deceased and the lust it stirred up in the Devil. The blood imagery of which Dickens writes in A Tale of Two Cities marvelously, in an impeccable yet sanguinary way, epitomizes the savagery of the French Revolution.
Dickens frequently uses imagery to emphasize the point of the violence enacted during the French Revolution. The stunningly eloquent yet vividly drawn illustration of rebellion comes to life as the era is painted using a palate of storms, wine, and blood. Through his colorful, dramatic portrayal of the French Revolution, Dickens shows how the era surrounding A Tale of Two Cities was undeniably the best of times and the worst of times.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens