The French Revolution was a chaotic, destructive time. This is clearly illustrated in the book A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. In this novel, there are many examples of inhumanity, especially during the revolutionaries’ attacks against anyone who was believed to be treasonous or aristocratic. Men were very cruel to their fellow men, even creating the monstrous guillotine to kill people faster and more efficiently. Charles Dickens portrays such violence from the French Revolution very well with the symbols of the blue-flies, the storm, and red wine.
For example, the blue-flies represent the people’s lust for blood. During Charles Darnay’s first trial, “a buzz arose in the court as if a cloud of great blue-flies were swarming about the prisoner, in anticipation of what he was soon to become” (Dickens 50). When this quote is said, Charles Darnay, a prisoner at the time, is being tried for treason, with a punishment of death. The people seem to gravitate towards the prisoner, just as flies would on a dead body. Not only that, but there is also a “buzzing” in the courtroom, which could represent the spectators’ whispers. After Darnay has been acquitted, it is said that “the crowd came pouring out with a vehemence that nearly took him off his legs, and a loud buzz swept into the street as if the baffled blue-flies were dispersing in search of other carrion” (59). These people are confused, probably because they are disappointed about the prisoner’s sudden acquittal. The use of the word “carrion” enhances the metaphor of the flies; these people are suddenly searching for new victims. Also, the fact that they pour out of the courtroom with vehemence and passion clearly shows their morbid fascination with death.Secondly, the m…
…e are all metaphors used to display the inhumanity that these men had for other men during the French Revolution. The blue flies, used to portray the fascination with death that most peasants seemed to have, clearly shows how these people are eager for the death of an innocent man. The metaphor of the storm, with its quick and unforgiving lightning and crashing thunder, displays how brutish and monstrous these revolutionaries are with their thunderous cannons while killing innocent victims. Last but not least, the metaphors of wine and wine stains represent how everyone is guilty of this bloodshed and the creation of the monster of the guillotine. Overall, Charles Dickens uses these metaphors very well to portray the violence of war, and, with that, the inhumanity that man has for man.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. N.p.: Dover, 1999. Print.