Saturday 28 March 2020

What role does doubling or coincidence play in the novel A Tale of Two cities

                  A TALE OF TWO CITIES

 What role does doubling or coincidence play in the novel A Tale of Two cities
 What role does doubling or coincidence play in the novel A Tale of Two cities


In "A tale of two cities" doubling plays a vital role. In Shakespeare's comedy of errors two masters and two servants are twins, and they contribute to the fun and merriment of the play. As a matter of fact, had there been no doubling there would have been no play at all. "A tale of two cities" doubling plays the same role, not a wit less. There are as many as three "Doublings". Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton are "doubles" in look. They look indistinguishable from each other in looks and features. In character and temparement they have some affinity,but in many suspects they are poles apart. In Sydney carton there are two personalities-one morose, indulging in self-pity,and the other, a man of action, vibrant and dynamic, who sets his life at  a pinis fee, to serve humanity. The third "doubling" relates to Sydney Corton and Charles Dickens.

Charles Evremonde gladly disowns his ancestrol heritage. He is so sick of the policy of repression, consistently pursued by his ancestors, his father and uncle that he leaves paris to settle in London. He earns his bread as a french tutor,for he knows french and English equally well.The London police arrest him on a charge of treason,and he is being tried at old Bailey. His defence counsel is stryver, assisted by his old classmate Sydney carton. Dr.Manette,Lucie and Jarvish are summoned as witnesses ,all of whom testify that they have seen Charles Darnay on board a ships,playing from France to England. The arguements against the accused are so strong that he might be sentenced to death.

Stryver is a self-centred barrister,who talks much and understand little. Sydney Carton,on the other hand,talks little,and understand much In such a sad predicament Sydney Carton writes down a few words and passes the note to Stryver,stands up and invites the attention of the court to the striking fact that Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton have a very close resemblance to each other. The witnesses are subjected to a fresh cross-examination,and all of them speak out that they cannot be absolutely sure of the identity of the accused. Charles Darnay is, therefore,given the benefit of the doubt,and acquitted . At the beginning of this answer it was stated that "doubling" had a "vital" importance. "Vital" may be used in another sense,-something related to life. The life of Charles Darnay has been saved only through the strange coincidence of 'doubling', 'doubling' becomes 'vital' once again towards the close of the novel. Charles Darnay is married to Lucie, and a daughter is born out of the union. But again Darnay's life is at stake . He leaves for paris in response to an urgent call from his old servant, Gabella. It has been the height of impropriety and indiscretion for an aristocrat to go to paris,where all aristocrat are being arrested and guillotined. Darnay has committed another act of indiscretion. He has left for France without the knowledge of Lucie and Dr.Manette ,Darnay is arrested and imprisoned ,and there is every possibility of death sentence. Dr.Manette has been a prisoner in the Bastille for eighteen years. He has,therefore,becomes a cult figure held in high esteem by the revolutionaries . Morever, Ernest Defarge , a former servant of Dr.Manette,has still a vestige of loyality to his old master.Hence , Charles Darnay is released after a stay in prison for more than a years.

Charles Darnay is re-arrested and it is an irony of fate that Dr.Manette becomes the accuser. While in the Bastille for years through the machination of the evremonde and denouncing all the evremonde , living on dead. Charles Darnay is a scion of the evremonde.The Defarges and the fellow revolutionaries are intent upon making full use of Dr.Manette's note. The tribunal and the jury has passed the unanimous verdict that Darnay is to be guillotined in course of twenty-four hours. This is a staggering blow to the Manettes ,they are plunged in deep despair. 

'Doubling' again comes to Darnay's rescue. Sydney Carton ewes so much to Lucie .She has, of course, failed reciprocate his love. But her profound sympathy and compassion have given him a new meaning of life. She has instilled hope into his drooping spirits. His humanity ,so long dormant, is fully awakened by the gentle touch of Lucie's love,in a broader sense of the term . So long his life was of "one who might have been",one "who had died young". Lucie realises  that she has the seeds of greatness lying latent. Sydney Carton has assured her that he would do something for her,on for someday very dear to her, Sydney Carton has been to Paris and gets involved  in the case. Now is the time to redeem his pledge to Lucie .Without any waste of time he enters into a deal with Solomon Pross, a British Spy, turned a French spy ,initially for the monarchy and later the aristocracy, later of the revolutionaries. Since Baasad is an employee of the jail,where Darnay is awaiting the hour of his execution, he is easily blackmailed . Carton holds out the threat that if he does not act upon his instinction he would be exposed.

Sydney Carton buys some strong sleep inducing drugs. He has critical acumen,sense of proportion and systematic method. He takes nobody into his confidence. He takes no hasty decision .With the connivance of Baasad he has an access into Darnay's will. He drugs him and changes clothes with him and gets of the prison and leaves him in the carriage at the gate of the prison and leaves him in the custody of lory Jarvis ,the Mannette are already in the carriage, a leave for England. Sydney Carton sacrifices his life for his 'double'. None in the prison can recognize that Darnay has fled. He gladly dies for Lucie, the daughter and Darnay. A man,who has missed all opportunities ,has saved the life of Darnay,once with his sagacity and finally with his life. Sydney Carton the christ like figure,evokes out profound respect bordering on adoration.

And the final 'doubling' role is that of Dickens, trying to be Sydney Carton himself. Dickens must have written "A tale of two cities" for his catharsis ,the purgation, the expression of the tragic tension he was passing through.



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