In the book Tale of Two Cities author, Charles Dickens, shows the events surrounding the aristocrats and peasants in France and the conflict between the two leading up to and during
the French Revolution. He shows the process of how a revolution is started as
well as its effects on everyone involved. This novel brings up many
controversial questions and lessons that we can still use today.
“They celebrated the overthrow of the corrupt feudal system of
prerevolutionary France…” This novel starts off with Charles Dickens giving
readers an idea of what first got the revolutionaries and peasants angry enough
to start a revolution- the horrifying ways the aristocracy treats the peasants.
He gives you a look inside everyday people’s lives such as the
man whose son was run over by the Marquis. This scene shows how cruel the
aristocracy is towards the peasants. Usually, a caring person would be sorry
and feel terrible, but as quoted in this novel, that is not the case. The
Marquis says, “It is extraordinary to me that you people cannot take care of
yourselves and your children. One or the other of you is forever in the way.”
How could this not anger the peasants? They are just sick of getting stepped
all over by the aristocrats. Another example of this would be how the Farmer Generals
overtax the people for their own profit and just let them starve without
In my opinion, I think the French aristocracy just thought they were so
much better than the peasants. They would look down on them just because they
were born into a lower family in the caste system. This is ridiculous;
especially because the peasants were being taxed so much extra, there was no
way they could improve their living conditions. Some of the aristocrats
outright expressed that they didn’t care, like Foulon. A peasant shows their
displeasure with this when he says, “Foulon who told the starving people they
might eat grass!” Instead of trying to change the condition of the peasants
they taunt them and express their thoughts of them being inferior.
I think that the common people were absolutely right to force a change. The aristocracy was slowly starving the lower class people to death. They were licking spilt wine on the ground like it was the last meal on earth! What were they supposed to do? Like I said earlier,
their money was slowly being taken from them through the unfair taxes while the
aristocracy was spending money every which way extravagantly. Strong powers
like the Marquis used barbarous methods to keep order in their cities. People
like Jerry Cruncher show how horrified they are at all the unnecessary
torturing and guillotining going on in Tale of Two Cities.
Even though I think the peasants definitely had a right to start a revolution I think the French Revolution went way too far. For example, while Charles Darnay was in jail, about 20 people were being beheaded a day! There were unfair trials going on everyday where the
tribunal would throw out random verdicts and the crowd would either let them go
or happily kill a possibly innocent person that was put in jail for little, if
any reason. The revolution caused mobs where people were so influenced by all
the emotion they would do crazy things. A prisoner was declared innocent and
set free by the tribunal, but because of the extreme emotions of the mob they
killed him anyway!
There are many lessons to be learned from the French Revolution. One being that there needs to be some sort of equality between people in a society or even a country. Such big differences in a caste system like France’s, causes major problems because of the big gap between to groups of people. If the aristocrats would have been reasonable and taxed the peasants a fair amount and not have spent their money unnecessarily the gap would have decreased and so would the conflicts. In addition, a simple thing like thinking before acting
proves to be harder than it seems in Tale of Two Cities. The peasants
are in mob forms where they act in drastic measures that are unnecessary and
horrific. Some examples of this would be when they are sharpening their tools
on the grindstone preparing to slaughter the prisoners even though many of them
haven’t even been proven guilty yet. To add to this, the mobs are wearing
prisoners’ clothes covered in their blood.
Dickens wrote this book in order to prevent his people from starting their own revolution and reliving the same horrors that he wrote about in Tale of Two Cities. We can use this novel in the same way. By making sure we don’t have a huge gap between people in society and
thinking before we act we can also prevent revolutions and uprisings in America.
Americans can use these lessons in order to avoid conflicts between different
groups of people. A Tale of Two Cities shows what can happen when mobs
and their behaviors, led by their feelings, reach huge levels of anger and
destruction. Dickens shows how he thinks people can prevent a revolution when
he says, “an atmosphere of poverty, hunger, and ignorant desperation of mere
existence of which, perhaps not one man in a thousand… has the least idea.”
Dickens wanted the people to “array themselves peacefully”. Then he goes on to
talk about how he fears their lethargy is an“awful symptom of the advanced state
of their disease.” I believe that Dickens isn’t just warning us about starting
a revolution, but not taking it too far, as well.