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A Tale of Two Cities- The Use of Foreshadowing

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by Jessica Pollock on 18 April 2011

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Transcript of A Tale of Two Cities- The Use of Foreshadowing

A Tale of Two Cities Foreshadowing In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens uses foreshadowing in multiple scenes throughout the text in order to create a suspenseful and dynamic plot Dickens' use of foreshadowing is shown in chapter five of book one, when a wine cask is spilled on the streets of France. The French citizens' frantic attempts to claim the wine is not only a symbol of the clear desperation among the people, but is also an attempt by Dickens to foreshadow the coming revolution. "The wine was red wine, and had stained the ground of the narrow street . . . one tall joker so besmirched, his head more out of a long squalid bag of a nightcap than in it, scrawled upon a wall with his finger dipped in muddy wine-lees- BLOOD.

The time was to come, when that wine too would be spilled on the street-stones, and when the stain of it would be red upon many there."

(Book One, Chapter Five- pg. 28) Examples . . . Later in the novel, in chapter two of book three, the revolution has finally become a reality for France, and the French people famously kill hundreds of the imprisoned aristocracy at the grindstone. The earlier scene at the wineshop foreshadowed this rebellion. Dickens again displays his use of foreshadowing in chapter 18 of book 2, when Dr. Manette experiences a relapse after talking to Charles Darnay on the day of the wedding. It can be assumed that the relapse was caused by hearing of Charles' former name because of a conversation held between the two earlier in the novel. "My present name, though but slightly changed from my mother's, is not, as you will remember, my own. I wish to tell you what that is, and why I am in England. . . You shall tell me on your marriage morning."

(pg. 132) After Charles tells the Doctor his real name, the Doctor experiences the worst relapse he has had, lasting for nine days and in which he cannot seem to remember anything from his current life, instead making shoes as he did when he was imprisoned in the Bastille. "Mr. Lorry said what he could to calm her, and went himself into the Doctor's room. The bench was turned towards the light, as it had been when he had seen the shoemaker at his work before, and his head was bent down, and he was very busy."

(Book Two, Chapter 18- pg. 186) Later in the novel, at Charles' second trial, Dr. Manette unknowingly denounces Charles. It is revealed that Charles is a member of the aristocratic family who was responsible for sending the doctor to prison thirty two years earlier. A letter is discovered that was written by Dr. Manette while he was in prison, denouncing Charles' family. Dickens purposely included the earlier scene where the doctor has a dramatic relapse after hearing Charles' name so that the reader can foreshadow that Charles Darnay has a connection with the doctor's imprisonment. Dickens once again uses foreshadowing in A Tale of Two Cities when explaining the Manette house. Dickens repeatedly mentions how footsteps echo throughout the house, symbolizing the approaching revolution. "The footsteps were incessant, and the hurry of them became more and more rapid. The corner echoed and re-echoed with the tread of feet; some, as it seemed, under the windows; some, as it seemed, in the room; some coming, some going, some breaking off, some stopping altogether; all in the distant streets, and not one within sight."

(Book Two, Chapter 6- pg 99) Later in the novel, when the French people are about to storm the Bastille, we are once again taken to the Manette house, where the echoing footsteps have become more frantic "But, there were other echoes, from a distance, that rumbled menacingly in the corner all through this space of time. And it was now, about little Lucie's sixth birthday, that they began to have an awful sound, as of a great storm in France with a dreadful sea rising."

(Book 2, Chapter 21- pg. 204) Using these examples of foreshadowing, along with several others, Dickens creates a suspenseful and timeless plot that has been a classic piece of literature for decades, and will only continue to be further treasured for decades more. Dickens used the echoing footsteps in the Manette house to symbolize the approaching revolution. When the footsteps get more frantic and louder, we can foreshadow that the revolution is beginning. Charles Dickens
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