Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Tale of Two Cities Read-along Check-in #3

When I started this blog two years ago, it was to keep record of my reading experience as I journeyed through classic literature - most of which intimidated me.  My goal is to learn how to think about what I read.  So this is not a review, by any means, but instead an opinion of my reading experience.

The Wrap-up

Book Three is by far the more intense of the three sections of A Tale of Two Cities.  I was completely engrossed in several chapters that I had to go on to the very end; I finished the book way ahead of schedule. 

My favorite chapter is called "The Knitting Done": Dickens continues his theme of contradictions with the confrontation between Miss Pross, the faithful servant, and Madame Defarge, the vengeful knitter. Here, the goodness of love for family and friend rises above the wickedness which abounds in the heart of France.
" . . . ; Miss Pross, with the vigorous tenacity of love, always so much stronger than hate, . . . "
In that dark world, which no one was to be trusted, there was hope for the family of Dr. Manette, a good and decent man.  At least he can still rely on friends to help him and his family, unlike so many other unlucky people.  I won't reveal what happens in that "Knitting Done" chapter, but it is definitely an important turn in the story.

Sydney Carton
There are sufficient instances of self-sacrifice portrayed by characters throughout the story.  For example, Charles Darnay risks his own life by returning to unsettled France in hopes of saving his old, trusted servant, Gabelle, only to be arrested and sent to prison as an emigrant.  Even after his second arrest, Darnay accepts his unjustified fate that he must die for the past sins of his father and uncle:
"And now when he was composed, and hoped that he could meet the end with quiet heroism, . . . "
And there are additional characters working on the side to assist others in order that goodness and righteousness may prevail.  However, the greatest act of sacrifice goes to Sydney Carton. How can I say anything without ruining the entire story?  I cannot.  If you know it, then you understand.

Charles Dickens
What a wonderful experience A Tale of Two Cities was that I want to read it again in the future. It is a story about love, sacrifice, service to others, loyalty, devotion, and righteousness.  When the love people have for goodness is more prominent than the vindictive, chaotic lack of justice spreading like the Plague in the other half of the story, then I know that Charles Dickens did a superb job.  My heart was both saddened, but joyful; it was a good sadness, though, as the final act was done in righteousness because it was justified.   

Charles Dickens - the master storyteller!  

This Christmas break I will write about why it is that I appreciate his stories so much, even though I have only read three.   

P.S. And many thanks to Bev at An Armchair by the Sea for hosting this read-along.  

2 comments:

  1. Didn't this book have wonderful characters, right down to Miss Pross? Your post is bringing back such wonderful memories for me. I must give this a re-read before too long.

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    1. It's one of my favorite reasons for enjoying Dickens so much: his characters are distinct - either really good or just plain bad. There is no gray area. Most of the time I was asking myself, "Would I have had the courage to do that? Would I ever do that for a friend?" Could you ever have done what Miss Pross did?

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