By Charles Dickens, Richard Maxwell (editor)
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Extra resources for A Tale of Two Cities (Penguin)
In Paris, city of public revelations, the Bastille prisoner’s confession will be read back to him before a crowd which yells for Darnay’s execution. The mob articulates an anger which Manette, according to his own lights, should not be feeling. He insists throughout the earlier Parisian scenes that he wants to save Darnay and that, in fact, he has saved him. However, once the Bastille yields up its secret, Manette’s own unarticulated desires can be used against him and against the benign intentions which he persistently articulates.
Despite himself, Manette denounces Darnay, and denounces him more effectively than anyone else could have done. The second crucial male character in the novel is Darnay, not only Manette’s son-in-law but, in effect, his rival. Though he lacks vividness, this character remains a figure of considerable interest: he is this novel’s central embodiment of the problem of the aristocracy in the French Revolution. In a famously hostile review, Fitzjames Stephens complained that Dickens had unfairly represented the old regime as composed of wicked aristocrats.
519. ‘The Guillotine’ was first published in the Quarterly Review (1843). 12. Cf. Honoré de Balzac’s Les Chouans (1829) and Anthony Trollope’s La Vendée (1849). Even Victor Hugo’s much less conservative Quatrevingt-Treize (1874) is largely devoted to La Vendée. 13. On 17 November 1793, Robespierre proposed: ‘Between the people and its enemies, there has been a constant reaction in which a progressive violence has, in a few years, made up for the work of several centuries’ (‘Séance du 27 Brumaire An 11 (17 November 1793): Rapport sur la situation politique de la République’, in Oeuvres de Maximilien Robespierre, 10 vols.