Social Sensitivity

It is difficult to imagine anyone objecting to A Tale of Two Cities. The novel does contain explicit scriptural references, especially near the conclusion. But these can easily be viewed as a means of making historically relevant comparisons.

Some have criticized Dickens’s works for emphasizing grave social injustices but not offering any solutions. But such criticism misses Dickens’s point: believing history has proved economic systems to be incapable of relieving poverty, Dickens stresses the importance of individual responsibility and compassion for the plight of the poor and disfranchised. Indeed, A Tale of Two Cities teaches the important lesson that individual efforts are worthwhile, even if they make but a small difference in an often violent and unjust world.

Although Dickens does not hesitate to portray the violence inherent in his subject matter, he in no way glorifies it. He depicts the mistreatment of the lower classes that spurred the French Revolution, but he clearly condemns atrocities committed in the name of revolution. For Dickens, no cause is great enough to justify abandoning all vestiges of sympathy for one’s fellow human beings.

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