Bring out the Autobiographical elements in Dickens's A Tales of Two Cities

Autobiographical elements in Dickens's A Tales of Two Cities

Whether its 'David Copperfield', 'Great Expectations' or 'Oliver Twist', the novels of Dickens reverberates with autobiographical elements. But these autobiographical elements are so latent that they do not hamper the fictional progression of the novel. It does not means that the subjectivity of the novel mars its objectivity. It has been pointed out that A Tale of Two Cities contains an embodiment of Dickens' passions, and forebodings and the revolution which engulfs the characters symbolizes the author's own psychological revolution both as man and artist.

A Tale of Two Cities is not strictly an autobiographical novel but has some elements it. There are two types of autobiographical novels- the 'novel of formation' or artist novel and the 'novel of education'. They deal with the development of the protagonist's mind and characters at all stage of life. However, A Tale of Two Cities does not fall in either those categories. The novel presents many of Dickens's personal views, likes sympathies and antipathies. Dickens was unhappy with his wife Catherine, the mother of his many children. Born into the middle class Victorian society Dickens was was not able to excuse any freedom out of marriage. It is a known fact that dickens loved his lovely sister in law who died at a young age more then he loved his own his wife.

According to Victorian conventions dickens endured his marriage and later forsook it after a prologed period of domestic catastrophe. In his later life dickens fell passionately in love with another girl name Ellen. Dickens's participation in Collins's play led not only to a shift in his personal life, but also to a career development, for it was this play that was inspired him to write A Tale of Two Cities. In the play, Dickens played the part of a man who sacrifice his own life so that his Rival may have the women they both love; the love triangle in the play become the basic for the complex relations between Charles Darnay, Louis Manette and Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities. Moreover, dickens appreciated the play for its treatment of redemption and rebirth, love and violence. He decide to transpose these onto the French Revolution, an events that embodied the same issues on a historical level. In order to make his Novel historically accurate Dickens turned to Thomas Carlyle's account of the revolution.

Dickens also found great difficulty in finding a suitable title to his Novel. His first choice was 'One of these Days'. Later he thought of naming his work 'Buried Alive' and then he finally thought of 'A Tale of Two Cities'.

Dickens draws vivid pictures of imprisonment and sufferings. The images are drawn from the vivid image of imprisonment Dickens had seen as a child. Through the long period of imprisonment of Dr. Manette, Dickens had revived the suffering oh his own father. He tells us the 18 long years of prison spend by Dr. Manette, Darnay spends 15 months in jail. He also describes real prisons like New gate Prison, Town in London, Bastille, La force etc.

Dickens wrote the novel at a point in his life when his life was in turmoil.The personal revolution and fears felt by Dickens are highlighted through Lucie's vague fears- her fear of seeing the ghost of her father, assassination, the dreadful episodes of French Revolution, the storming of the Bastille etc. The characters of the novel are both personal and public.There is balance in the characterization when the character do not become too personal or too public. 'A Tale of Two Cities' mirrors the crisis and the revolution of novelist's personal life. From this point of views it would not be wrong to term the novel as a fictionalized autobiographical of Charles Dickens

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