A Tale Of Two Cities, I Guess

995 words - 4 pages

Before and during the French Revolution, there remained a large gap between the social classes of the nobility and the peasantry. There was an enduring struggle between those who had power and authority and those who did not. The peasants were hateful towards the nobles since they were mistreated and abused. In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens’ portrayal of the nobles’ treatment of peasants in France between 1775 and 1780 is accurate.
In the novel, the French ruling aristocracy has oppressed the peasantry for so long that many of them suffer from starvation. Dickens portrays the direness of the peasants’ situation in a key 1775 event detailed in Book 1, Chapter 5. A large cask ...view middle of the document...

He writes, “Violence erupted everywhere; in the countryside, where the small peasant could no longer manage to feed his family from his crops, let alone pay his lord and the king” (Furet 57). As long as the nobles were receiving their pay, they were not concerned with the peasants’ suffering and paid no attention to their dissatisfaction. Even though living conditions slightly improved, peasants still had “simmering resentments” towards the government that taxed them but always felt indifferent to their needs (Popkin 14). “The institution’s privileges seemed to have no relationship to the services it was supposed to provide to the rest of society” (9).
Charles Dickens shows the mercilessness and cruelty of the French ruling class in his detailing of Monseigneur’s interaction with peasants on the street, in Book 2, Chapter 7. As his carriage violently drove through the streets, he paid no attention to the peasants who came in his way. It was their job to get out of the way, otherwise they suffered. “At last, swooping at a street corner by a fountain, one of its wheels came to a sickening little jolt, and there was a loud cry from a number of voices, and the horses reared and plunged. But for the latter inconvenience, the carriage probably would not have stopped; carriages were often known to drive on, and leave their wounded behind” (Dickens 115). Monseigneur’s carriage drove away, after running over a child and killing him, with him not caring about the boy or his father’s predicament. He sped off, equally quickly as before, not recognizing his grave mistake as he blames the peasants’ lack of control for the boy’s death instead of his irresponsibility. The nobles treated the peasants as though they were barbarians, finding their personal feelings worthless and of no importance (Doyle 16). Later on, villagers were determined “to strike pre-emptively” to ensure...

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