Marie Antoinette in a Tale of Two Cities

Analysis on the allusion to Marie Antoinette in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

Marie Antoinette in a Tale of Two Cities

    “There was a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face on the throne of England, there were a king with a large jaw and queen with a fair face, on the throne in France.” Our Allusion refers to Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France during the French Revolution and the time a Tale of Two Cities takes place, “…the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five,” until she was beheaded by French Revolutionaries. The allusion to Marie Antoinette is strong foreshadowing of the time period in which the story takes place and what the story is about. Marie Antoinette is closely associated with the French Revolutionary because she was queen at the time. During her reign with King Louis XVI ,”Her extravagant court expenditures contributed to the huge debt incurred by the French state in the 1770s and ’80s.” The massive debt of France combined with the harsh conditions of the time led to rebellion by revolutionaries. The story of a Tale of Two Cities involves revolutionaries and describes both the poor conditions of the commoners of France and the harsh treatment of criminals, some of which Marie Antoinette was personally responsible, and generally the wealthy were responsible for. In “The Wine Shop,” the poor suburb of Saint Antoine is described as dark and grim and the people as hungry. The passage serves to describe the extremely poor quality of life by the common people of France at the time. The name of the town itself, “Antoine,” is very similar to “Antoinette,” the woman seen as the symbol of the regime responsible for the peoples lifestyle. The revolutionaries in the wine-shop, including its owner DeFarge, are disgusted with the actions of the leaders of the country, especially the imprisonment of Dr. Manette for no apparent reason..They, as well as Charles Darnay later in the book express their dislike of the leadership and their desire to overturn it as revolutionaries. Marie Antoinette was eventually executed by revolutionaries much like Darnay, DeFarge and the others in the wine-shop. The allusion to Marie Antoinette serves the purpose very well to tie in the characters of the story to the actual history of the French Revolution. Her role in history closely relates to the Revolutionary characters in the book, their disgust with the poor lifestyle she was responsible for and her eventual execution by the revolutionaries.

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