The Essence of a Revolution

Topics: French Revolution, A Tale of Two Cities, Reign of Terror Pages: 7 (2536 words) Published: May 2, 2012
The Essence of a Revolution

There have been countless revolutions in the world, all having different causes and outcomes. Many are known for their violence, and the unnecessarily bloody way in which revolutionaries try to overthrow the system they disagree with. The French Revolution is widely known for its brutality and for the extreme rage that the revolutionaries felt because of injustice and oppression. Because the French Revolution is so fierce, memorable, and complex, many authors have tried to accomplish the challenging task of capturing the real character of it. Charles Dickens successfully captures the essence of the French Revolution in the novel by conveying to the reader the main causes of the revolution, the violence that took place, and the disgust and hostility that the people felt towards the aristocracy. All of these aspects come together to express the essence of the French as well as many other revolutions. Dickens does an excellent job communicating to the reader the main causes of the revolution, and this is a major element for capturing the essence of it. The French Revolution was mostly caused by economic crisis and social injustice. Economic crisis was due mainly because of King Louis XVI’s investment of large sums of money for the American Revolution, which resulted in the bankruptcy of the French government. ‘The French Revolution’ packet states, “By supporting the American colonists in their war for independence, the French could help to separate Great Britain from its most valuable colonial possession,” (The). This seems like a well-thought plan, but the results of it were not as favorable as the King believed. The same source states, “An audit in 1788 revealed to King Louis and his ministers that the crown was heavily in debt from the investment on the war and would continue to be so burdened without some way of raising new money,” (The). If the government wanted to raise money, they would need to enforce heavier taxes on the people. Unjust taxations impoverished the middle and lower classes extremely, and it became increasingly difficult to afford food. Hunger increased, and famines created riots and propelled the spread of revolutionary ideas. It is clear from the book that poverty and need were prevalent everywhere in France. “Hunger rattled its dry bones among the roasting chestnuts in the turned cylinder; Hunger was shred into atomies in every farthing porringer of husky chips of potato, fried with some reluctant drops of oil,”(26). Undoubtedly, the desperation of the lower class would eventually lead to the revolution. In a memorable chapter named ‘The Wine Shop’, an event takes place which helps the reader understand the hardships that the lower classes endured during the revolution. A wine cask falls and breaks on the floor, and wine is spilled in the streets. In reaction to this, many people come filled with excitement to drink the wine from the ground, like animals. Because they usually cannot afford to buy wine, the scene is portrayed joyfully and in a celebrative way. “Some men kneeled down, made scoops of their two hands joined, and sipped, or tried to help women, dipped in the puddles with little mugs of mutilated earthenware, or even with handkerchiefs from women’s heads, which were squeezed dry into infants’ mouths...” (24). It is easily understood that these hardships were a great part of what caused the revolution by analyzing the clues that Dickens employs. An example appears in this scene. Here, there is a man who uses wine to write the word blood in a wall. This is strongly foreshadowing the change that is to come. The author is comparing wine to blood, and therefore he is relating the poverty of the people to the blood and change that will come. It is a powerful and effective way to explain why the revolution will happen and to foreshadow it. All the methods that Dickens uses to explain the causes of the revolution help the reader understand...
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