Harvin Birk1/22/18Dr.HuntSitting in the DarkThroughout literature comparisons between darkness and light are made. In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens compares these two elements during the book. Darkness and light are in constant peril with one another, they also take control of the tone and the setting of the novel. From the opening lines, the reader can sense a theme of darkness and light, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times … it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness.” (Dickens 1). After this the story introduces Dr.
Manette, who has a lot of inner darkness that is shown throughout the story. I believe that Dr. Manettes darkness is shown throughout his environment, “The garret… was dim and dark… Such a scanty portion of light was admitted through these means, that it was difficult, on first coming in, to see anything; and long habit alone could have slowly formed in any one, the ability to do any work requiring nicety in such obscurity.” (Dickens 29). Despite this, work in the garret had been done, “with his back towards the door, and his face towards the window where the keeper of the wine-shop stood looking at him, a white-haired man sat on a low bench, stooping forward and very busy, making shoes” (Dickens 29). Dr.
Manette lived in sadness due to the years he was kept in solitude, he had transitioned into a state of craziness. He was consumed by the dark here, which, defines his character through the setting. His surroundings were dark and the life he was living was also dark. His surroundings were really dark, but he also lived a really dark life.
Despite this, through the light (his daughter) he was able to escape from his darkness that was inside him. Dr. Manette is not alive until he was able to see his daughter who is his light.
These themes of darkness and light also help to stage the tone and setting of the novel. The time the book was written takes place in a truly dark time. Despair and death were rampant in France and darkness is a good adjective to use in this time. Another darkness was closing in, “when the church bells, then ringing pleasantly in many an airy steeple over France, should be melted into thunder cannon.”(263). This darkness that soon engulfed all of France was used to foreshadow the terrible events to come. Another theme that was seen was irony, as it was seen when light was used during a terrible event, “Along the Paris streets, the death-carts rumble, hollow and harsh. Six tumbrils carry the day’s wine to La Guillotine.
“(Dickens 293). This scene was right before Carton was sentenced to be executed. Although this is a very dark part of the story, it occurs in broad daylight. Throughout A Tale Of Two Cities light and darkness are pitted against each other to enhance the setting and in turn the characters. From the beginning of the novel to Carton’s death, light and darkness are a very important theme in the novel. Although themes From the opening sentence to Carton’s execution, light and darkness were prevalent in the novel. Even though darkness seemed to outweigh the light as there was no grey areas just darkness or light.
Dickens felt that this period could only be encompassed by using these themes to describe this horrible time.