A Tale Of Two Cities
?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 spring of hope, it was the winter of despair (...)?The opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, are known by any lover of literature as some of the most meaningful, poetic and beautiful ones ever written. In a sense, they summarize the whole plot, giving the reader a clue about the dichotomy in the nature of the two cities, Paris and London, of the two male characters, the British Sydney Carton and the French Charles Darnay, so alike physically and so different in character and values, and, mainly, of the ordinary man, with no rights, and the aristocrat, with all rights, in absolutist France in the XVIII century.A really romantic story, it occurs during the French Revolution. Full of mystery and suspense, it encompasses almost the whole spectrum of human feelings, such as loneliness, pain, love, devotion, gratitude, hate, meanness, malice, friendship and anger. It begins, as any romantic novel should, with a mysterious nocturnal trip from England to France made by an elderly character, whose name is not then revealed, who is bound to Paris in order to bring to England an ex-prisoner in the Bastille, the fearful prison where the inmates were forgotten for ever before the French Revolution. The prisoner, also a mystery man, was saved from prison and helped afterwards by an old servant, who also has an important role in bringing about the Revolution leading the Paris mob in their fight to destroy the old régime, finish the monarchy and install a Republican system in France.Back in England, there is the dramatic trial of Charles Darnay, accused of treason as a spy for France. Acquitted thanks to his attorney and his associate Carton, Darnay becomes a friend to the man from the Bastille, whose story is revealed as of a famous French doctor who, years earlier was persecuted and sent to prison by an aristocratic family trying to keep in secret an evil deed. He and Carton fall in love with the doctor`s beautiful and virtuous daughter Lucie. There is also a mystery about Darnay, who lives in England but often travels to France, where he has relatives. It is a love story and a very romantic one, but there are also murders, revenge and fear of the Revolution terrors; friendship and devotion to a father who suffers from a strange and serious sickness due to the long years of suffering and solitude in the Bastille; the redemption of a self-loathing character who sacrifices everything to assure Lucie´s happiness.Unlike most of Dickens novels, A Tale of Two Cities deals only with human feelings, mainly love, and the lives and circumstances of its characters, the way they live and solve their several difficulties. It is one of the rare novels where there is not the social preoccupation so evident in his other writings. In fact, one of the most characteristic features of Dickens novels is his denouncement of the social conditions of the poor, their extremely bad conditions of living, the lack of any kind of useful and kind education for them and the total social and political disregard to the way they survive in a savage and ruthless society concerned only in making money and scaling the social ladder. He lived and wrote during the Industrial Revolution, with its benefits and evils. But he was also a witty and talented writer, so his novels are a pleasure as well as a pain. And so doing his art, he became one of the most powerful and loved authors in universal literature.