“The French Revolution began with the Estates General of 1789 and ended with the formation of the French Consulate in November 1799.” (Wikipedia)

Image: “Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre (6 May 1758 – 28 July 1794) was a French lawyer and statesman who became one of the best-known and most influential figures of the French Revolution. As a member of the Estates-General, the Constituent Assembly and the Jacobin Club, he campaigned for universal manhood suffrage and the abolition of both clerical celibacy and slavery.”

From: Signs for the Times – Symbolic Realism in the Mid-Victorian World (1984), by Chris Brooks:

“The Source for A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is, as Dickens’s preface acknowledges, Carlyle’s The French Revolution, and the indebtedness goes deeper than narrative incident or historical detail. Carlyle’s transcendental reading of history and his subsequent typological method jointly lie behind the imaginative strategies employed in Dickens’s novel. In A Tale of Two Cities, as in most historical novels, actual past events are integrated with a fictional plot, but, unlike most historical novels, the resultant narrative is presented as a semantic structure, symbolic in nature and divine in content. The parallel with Carlyle’s interpretation of the French Revolution is striking. Far more than simply adventitious, however, Dickens’s adoption – and, as will become evident, adaption of a Carlylean method is a logical outcome of his whole imaginative evolution. With the development I have traced through the novels – from symbolic realism, through exemplification, to the Christian transcendentalism and symbolism of fabric in Little Dorrit – it seems inevitable that A Tale of Two Cities should depict the world in terms of two distinct though interpenetrating levels of reality. The one level is mundane, man as the creature of society and history; the other is transcendental, man under the regimen of the divine. The historically real and fictionally realist episodes of the novel are set within an eschatological frame: human time, “these days when it is mostly winter in fallen latitudes’ (I, 10, p. 123), is bracketed between “the days when it was always summer in Eden’ (ibid.) and the day when “the ocean is…to give up its dead’ (II, 2, p. 59). Just as, for the Christian, the central fact of history is Christ, so also the narrative of A Tale of Two Cities is governed by a Christological myth: Dickens’s historico-realist novel about the French Revolution is also, and co-extensively, a symbolic novel about resurrection.”

“In my paper Mary Wollstonecraft’s Principles Mirrored in Dickens’s Great Expectations, I describe how Mary Wollstonecraft’s feminist principles from A Vindication of the Rights of Women are evident in Charles Dickens’s novel Great Expectations. Despite being published almost seventy years after Vindication, Great Expectations is filled with examples of how issues brought up in Wollstonecraft’s treatise were still relevant in the mid-Victorian period. Described as the “quintessential Victorian novelist” Dickens published Great Expectations during a time when feminist issues were gaining traction, and the novel is especially well placed to reflect the attitudes and issues of the time. In my paper, I explore feminist issues in education, economic activity, and marriage relationships as reflected in the female characters of Great Expectations. I particularly focus on how the characters of Miss Havisham, Estella, and Mrs. Gargery show the consequences of maintaining traditional female stereotypes and standards. In contrast, the character of Biddy portrays the positive effects of improved female education. These depictions of women in Dickens’s novel illustrate that Wollstonecraft’s principles and theories had been incorporated in British culture and reflect their relevance in Victorian times.” (David M. Runnells)

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