Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” Essay


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Charles Dickens’ novel, A Tale of Two Cites, is a very rich text. The characters, plot, and writing style are all complex and multifaceted. However, one of the least studied and important part of this novel is the chapter titles and even the proposed novel titles. These titles reveal and expose more about the text, like symbolism and irony that would have otherwise been missed. Dickens’ chapter and proposed novel titles are instrumental in revealing symbolism and irony in the book.


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When Darnay is unsure, Carton tells him: “I don’t think I do.” It is ironic that the title of the chapter is “Congratulatory”, yet Carton spends a large part of the chapter expelling the reasons why he doesn’t like Darnay, revealing Dicken’s ironic humor. In Book II, chapter twelve: “The Fellow of No Delicacy,” Stryver tries to win Lucie’s hand in marriage. This chapter is ironic because Stryver has no delicacy at all, contrary to what the chapter title might have you thinking. The chapter reveals that Stryver is arrogant and dimwitted. Stryver decides to marry to place a “magnanimous bestowal of good fortune” upon Lucie, revealing his arrogant ways.


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Edited and with an introduction and notes by Richard Maxwell. London: Penguin Classics (2003) ISBN 978-0-141-43960-0 . “Charles Dickens”. In A Collection of Essays. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (1946) ISBN 0-15-618600-4 .


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