Writing Assignment: Review the contents of A Tale of Two Cities and The Scarlet Pimpernel and take notes on the books. Make sure that you take notes on your favorite and least favorite parts of the book. Consider researching Charles Dickens and Emma Orczy to learn more about each author.
Part 1 A Tale of Two Cities:
A Tale of Two Cities is an 1859 historical novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The novel tells the story of the French Doctor Manette, his 18-year-long imprisonment in the Bastille in Paris and his release to live in London with his daughter Lucie, whom he had never met. The story is set against the conditions that led up to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. The story is written and narrated by the one of the most well-known authors, Charles Dickens (who is also known for haven written A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist). The genre of Two Cities is a Historical fiction about the French revolution. And in terms of historical fiction, It’s definitely a lot more accurate than a book like say, With Clive in India, which’s parts (that are confirmed in history) only sum up to 5 chapters. I think that Charles Dickens wrote this book to convey the foolishness and confidence the people of France and England were affected by during the French revolution.
Here’s a (not so quick, because the book’s so large) quick plot summary on A Tale of Two Cities:
(book one, Recalled to Life) *Dickens’ famous opening sentence introduces the universal approach of the book, the French Revolution, and the drama depicted within: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.“ In 1775, a man flags down the nightly mail-coach on its route from London to Dover. The man is Jerry Cruncher, an employee of Tilson’s Bank in London; he carries a message for Jarvis Lorry, a passenger and one of the bank’s managers.
Lorry sends Jerry back to deliver a cryptic response to the bank: “Recalled to Life.” The message refers to Alexander Monette, a French physician who has been released from the Bastille prison after an 18-year imprisonment. Once Lorry arrives in Dover, he meets Dr. Monette’s daughter Lucie and her governess, Miss Pross. Lucie has believed her father to be dead, and faints at the news that he is alive; Lorry takes her to France to reunite with her father. In the Paris neighborhood of the Faubourg Saint-Antione, Dr. Monette has been given lodgings by his former servant Ernest Defarge and his wife Therese (also known as the knitting killer), owners of a wine shop. Lorry and Lucie find him in a small garret, where he spends much of his time making shoes – a skill he learned in prison – which he uses to distract himself from his thoughts and which has become an obsession for him. He does not recognize Lucie at first but does eventually see the resemblance to her mother through her blue eyes and long golden hair, a strand of which he found on his sleeve when he was imprisoned. Lorry and Lucie take him back to England.
(book two, The Golden Thread) In 1780, French emigrant Charles Darnay is on trial for treason against the British Crown. The key witnesses against him are two British spies, John Barsad and Roger Cly, who claim that Darnay gave information about British Troops in North America to the French. Under cross-examination by Mr. Stryver, the barrister defending Darnay, Barsad claims that he would recognise Darnay anywhere. Stryver points out his colleague, Sydney Carton, who bears a strong resemblance to Darnay, and Barsad admits that the two men look nearly identical. With Barsad’s eyewitness testimony now discredited, Darnay is acquitted. In Paris, the hated and abusive Marquise St Evermonde orders his carriage driven recklessly fast through the crowded streets, hitting and killing the child of Gaspard in Saint Antoine. The Marquis throws a coin to Gaspard to compensate him for his loss. Madame Defarge, having observed the incident, comes forth to comfort the distraught father, saying the child would be worse off alive. This piece of wisdom pleases the Marquis, who throws a coin to Defarge also. As the Marquis departs, a coin is flung back into his carriage.
Arriving at his country chateau, the Marquis meets his nephew and heir, Darnay. Out of disgust with his aristocratic family, the nephew has shed his real surname (St. Evrémonde) and anglicized his mother’s maiden name, D’Aulnais, to Darnay. The following passage records the Marquis’ principles of aristocratic superiority: “Repression is the only lasting philosophy. The dark deference of fear and slavery, my friend,” observed the Marquis, “will keep the dogs obedient to the whip, as long as this roof,” looking up to it, “shuts out the sky.” That night, Gaspard, who followed the Marquis to his château by riding on the underside of the carriage, stabs and kills him in his sleep. Gaspard leaves a note on the knife saying, “Drive him fast to his tomb. This, from JACQUES.” (get it? because Marquis killed his son by driving fast?) After nearly a year on the run, he is caught and hanged above the village well.
In London, Darnay asks for Dr. Manette’s permission to wed Lucie, but Carton confesses his love to Lucie as well. Knowing she will not love him in return, Carton promises to “embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you”. Stryver considers proposing marriage to Lucie, but Lorry talks him out of the idea. On the morning of the marriage, Darnay reveals his real name and family lineage to Dr. Manette, a detail he had been asked to withhold until that day. In consequence, Dr. Manette reverts to his obsessive shoemaking after the couple leave for their honeymoon. He returns to sanity before their return, and the whole incident is kept secret from Lucie. Lorry and Miss Pross destroy the shoemaking bench and tools, which Dr. Manette had brought with him from Paris. As time passes in England, Lucie and Charles begin to raise a family, a son (who dies in childhood) and a daughter, little Lucie. Lorry finds a second home and a sort of family with the Darnays. Stryver marries a rich widow with three children and becomes even more insufferable as his ambitions begin to be realized.
Carton, even though he seldom visits, is accepted as a close friend of the family and becomes a special favorite of little Lucie. In July 1789, the Defarge’s help to lead the storming of the bastille as a symbol of royal tyranny. Defarge enters Dr. Monette’s former cell, “One Hundred and Five, North Tower,” and searches it thoroughly. Throughout the countryside, local officials and other representatives of the aristocracy are dragged from their homes to be killed, and the St. Veramonte château is burned to the ground. (However, to save you from spoilers, I will not list off the last book in the series, but Madame Defarge does almost kill Lucie and Dr. Manette)*
Now here are my thoughts on the Tale of Two Cities:
So I think A Tale of Two Cities is quite good, especially around the second book where most of the murders happen, BUUT, I dislike it’s sluggishness in plot, the fact that it spends two chapters about Madame Defarge’s way to keep her inner blood-lust towards aristocrats (knitting) and the general leeeength of the book.
I generally enjoy and recommend Charles Dickens’s works of literature, like A Christmas Carol, but I don’t think I’ll like some of his other book like Oliver Twist because of what I’ve heard about it, so I’d also recommend this book to anyone interested/reading about the French Revolution and it’s aftermath, how Charles Dickens thought of the Reign of Terror, and the morality of knitting all the time.
Part 2 The Scarlet Pimpernel:Who narrated the story? The story is narrated by all the characters swapping in and out between narrations. (because the book was written as playwright)
The Scarlet Pimpernel is the first novel in a series of historical fiction by Baroness Orczy, published in 1905. It was written after her stage play of the same title enjoyed a long run in London, having opened in Nottingham in 1903. The novel is set during the Reign of Terror following the start of the French Revolution. The book is narrated in first person swapping in and out between a few of the main characters. (because it’s a playwright)
The book’s genre is a mix between Action/Historical fiction, and Romance novel. However I think Two Cities portrays more HISTORY in historical fiction than this book does. Note the time period and location the book is set in. The time period is set (like A Tale of Two Cities) in the French Revolution, but because of the general chaos caused from constant execution attempts on the character’s lives, it puts more danger in the book than the first half of Two Cities.
Here is the plot of the scarlet pimpernel:
*The Scarlet Pimpernel is set in 1792, during the early stages of the French Revolution. Marguerite St. Just, a beautiful French actress, is the wife of wealthy English fop Sir Percy Blakeney, a baronet. Before their marriage, Marguerite took revenge upon the Marquis de St. Cyr, who had ordered her brother to be beaten for his romantic interest in the Marquis’ daughter, with the unintended consequence of the Marquis and his sons being sent to the guillotine. When Percy found out, he became estranged from his wife. Marguerite, for her part, became disillusioned with Percy’s shallow, dandyish lifestyle.
Meanwhile, the “League of the Scarlet Pimpernel”, a secret society of twenty English aristocrats, “one to command, and nineteen to obey”, is engaged in rescuing their French counterparts from the daily executions of the Reign of Terror. Their leader, the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel, takes his nickname from the small red flower (a pimpernel 😉 he draws on his messages. Despite being the talk of London society, only his followers and possibly the Prince Of Wales know the Pimpernel’s true identity. Like many others, Marguerite is entranced by the Pimpernel’s daring exploits.
Later that night, Marguerite finally tells her husband of the terrible danger threatening her brother and pleads for his assistance. Percy promises to save him. After Percy unexpectedly leaves for France, Marguerite discovers to her horror (and simultaneous delight) that he is the Pimpernel. He had hidden behind the persona of a dull, slow-witted fop to deceive the world.
He had not told Marguerite because of his worry that she might betray him, as she had the Marquis de St. Cyr. Desperate to save her husband, she decides to pursue Percy to France to warn him that Chauvelin knows his identity and his purpose. She persuades Sir Andrew Ffoulkes to accompany her, but because of the tide and the weather, neither they nor Chauvelin can leave immediately. At Calais, Percy openly approaches Chauvelin in the Chat gris, a decrepit inn whose owner is in Percy’s pay. Despite Chauvelin’s best efforts, the Englishman manages to escape by offering Chauvelin a pinch of snuff, which turns out to be pure pepper. Through a bold plan executed right under Chauvelin’s nose, Percy rescues Marguerite’s brother Armand and the Comte de Tournay, the father of a schoolfriend of Marguerite’s. Marguerite pursues Percy right to the very end, resolute that she must either warn him or share his fate. Percy, heavily disguised, is captured by Chauvelin, who does not recognize him so he is able to escape.* (just like to Two Cities, however, I’m not going to show what happened in the last few chapters)
Here are my thoughts on The Scarlet Pimpernel:
I think the Scarlet Pimpernel was only okay, mostly because of the fact that I hate reading playwrights and trying to put all the Name ENTER: into actual grammar. I thought the action parts were okay, but I think it covered romance a bit much.
I would honestly rate A tale of Two Cities better than the Scarlet Pimpernel, simply because it’s also more believable as a work Historic Fiction, so I would have to give my final ratings for the Scarlet Pimpernel and A tale of Two Cities: 🟥🟥🍞🍞🍞 two scarlets out of three pumpernickels, and (cities:) 🧶🧶 🧶🏢🏢 three balls of yarn out of two cities.
But now to the good part: which books’ cast of characters could kill all the other book characters. (both of the other book, and their own!😈) To start off, I will look at most notable and dangerous characters, picking out the two best of both books and pitting them against each other, the last (I believe to be) still standing will have their be crowned, the super-spaghetti champion!
A tale of two cities candidates:
- As for our first candidate, a peasant whose child got ran over, I have here Mr. Gaspard! I think he makes a great contender for the super spaghetti because of his ability to sneak into the Marquis’ chateau and kill undetected and sneak away and hide for a whole year before being found and executed. (he did still get executed though🤔)
- And for our second candidate (and most likely) of a Tale of Two Cities, we have arguably the novel’s antagonist, Madame Defarge!! I automatically put her here because of her willingness to join in on the French revolution, the fact that she is presented as a more extreme and bloodthirsty personality than her husband Ernest, and I guess the fact that the book literally says she tries to murder the entire Monette family! (and somewhat succeeds) It is also stated that she has a companion “inside of Madame Defarge” that is referred to as her “shadow” and lieutenant, a member of the sisterhood of women revolutionaries in Saint Antoine, and a Revolutionary zealot. 👀
As for the candidates of a scarlet pimpernel, here they are (and I’m sort of disappointed):
- For our first candidate I can’t give it to anyone else but Sir Percy Blakeney, aka, the scarlet pimpernel!! He is a wealthy English baron who rescues individuals sentenced to death by guillotine. He soon reveals himself to be a master of disguise, an imaginative planner, a formidable swordsman and a quick-thinking escape artist. With each rescue he taunts his enemies by leaving behind a card showing a small flower—a scarlet pimpernel. The identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel thus becomes a topic of widespread popular interest and the hero himself becomes the subject of an international manhunt by the French revolutionary authorities. I put him here for his amazing sword-play and quick-thinking, and even though he might be reluctant to fight people a less-than-just cause, I still think he makes a worthy contender.
- And for our second contender, I will have to list the only other possible candidate, Chauvin. Chauvin is a ruthless, amoral patriot who firmly believes that the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel is a threat and a mockery to the French Republic, and uses his position incessantly to attempt to destroy or discredit the Pimpernel and his associates. He is described as dressing always in black. While he is depicted as being a small and physically weak man, he is extremely intelligent and cunning, able to manipulate those around him and devise elaborate plots. He is fearless concerning his own safety, except so far as his own incapacity or death might foil his plans. I think that Chauvin also makes a good candidate, except because of his weak strength, I don’t think he’d win in a fight against anyone in his own book AND two cities. (so that means he’d probably have to use less-than-honorable tactics.)
After looking through all the strengths and weaknesses (both physically and spiritually) and I have come up with the listing of all these candidates (from worst to best):
- Chauvin, so I’m go on limb and say that in the right battleground, he could be very powerful, because, if he was fighting in a room full of exploits, like unsteady chandeliers and any sort of high ground, he totally has a chance to win against anyone, but because I would these fights to happen in places that don’t have a lot of exploits and advantageous positions, his weakness and cowardly nature wouldn’t give him even a chance.
- Gaspard, I don’t honestly believe that Gaspard would do well in a fight location with little hiding spots, but I do think he’d actually be brave enough and willing to kill. (unlike Chauvin and Percy) but I do think, if he had the moment, he could win any of these battles in a flash. (and his sneak skills are up to 100)
- Sir Percy the Pimpernel, so this is actually the first person on the list who doesn’t need an advantage, because his fighting skills are superb with a rapier-blade, his quick thinking rivals Chauvin’s, and his general agility amazing. The one downside that makes him lose is the fact that he doesn’t have any willingness to kill, unlike the next one.
- Madame Defarge, so I know what you’re thinking, Digstar, why would you put a lady who knits all the time as number 1 (I guess 4) because of the fact that she has (and I think will) succeeded in killing 3 times (even though her attempt on Dr. Manette and Lucie’s lives had HER killed) I believe she’d still succeed in combat against all other combatants.
*thanks to Wikipedia 🙂