A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens begins the novel with oxymorons. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” This beginning of the first paragraph is a great way to begin a book full of doubles and a Doppelganger effect since the words contradict each other just like the different doubles and parallels in this book. Contradicting characters are not only presented, but places are as well. Five different parallels or twins in this book consist of Darnay vs. EvrÃ©monde, Darnay vs. Mr.
Manette, sane” Mr. Manette versus “insane” Mr. Manette, John Barsad versus Pross, and London versus Paris. An example of the Doppelganger effect is the fact that Charles Darnay and Charles EvrÃ©monde are the same exact person. When Charles Darnay moves to England, he changes his last name because he doesn’t like to be associated with the name. He is a double character given that in England he is known as Charles Darnay, but in France he is known as Charles EvrÃ©monde. “A man with a bloated face opened the strong wicket, to whom Defarge presented ‘The Emigrant EvrÃ©monde'” 259.
Although this is true, Darnay has another double – Mr. Manette. Mr. Manette and Darnay were both imprisoned unfairly, though not at the same time. Mr. Manette was imprisoned by the Marquis, Charles Darnay’s uncle, because he tried to report the Marquis’ and his brother’s evil treatment of a poor family. The Marquis threw him in the Bastille for 18 dreadful years. Mr. Manette went crazy and over time believed he was a shoemaker, but was later resurrected” by Mr. Lorry and Lucie.
Darnay was imprisoned in France simply because he was an emigrant, someone who leaves one country to settle in another. Not only was Mr. Manette a double to Charles, but also to himself. Mr. Manette swaps between the insane Mr. Manette who believes he’s a lady’s shoemaker and the sane Mr. Manette who loves Lucie. When the book first introduces us to Mr. Manette, he is not well and sane due to the 18 years he spent in the Bastille. He speaks as if he were just learning the English language and has a hard time focusing on what people say.
‘You are still hard at work, I see?’ After a long silence, the head was lifted for another moment, and the voice replied, ‘Yes – I am working.’ Five years later, Mr. Manette is presented once again, but now he’s in good health and sane in Old Bailey. ‘…he looked as if he were old; but when it was stirred and broken up – as it was now in a moment, on his speaking to his daughter – he became a handsome man, not past the prime of life.’ Besides Charles Darnay and Mr. Manette, John Barsad and Solomon Pross are also double characters.
John Barsad was first introduced in Old Bailey as a patriot. He testified against Charles Darnay in England before fleeing to France to avoid persecution. In France, we discover that his true identity is Solomon Pross, the good-for-nothing brother of Miss Pross. It is worth noting that both London and Paris are dangerous cities. In London, there are highwaymen who are out to get you. Daring burglaries by armed men, and highway robberies, took place in the capital itself every night…” (8).
While in Paris, there were problems with the revolution and nobility. Noblemen entering France were most likely to be sent to the guillotine because of the Revolution. All in all, the comparison between London and Paris, John Barsad and Solomon Pross, Sane Mr. Manette and Insane Mr. Manette, Charles Darnay and Mr. Manette, and Charles Darnay and Charles EvrÃ©monde are five different examples of doubles or parallels in A Tale of Two Cities.
London and Paris are both dangerous cities, although for different reasons. John Barsad and Solomon Pross are the same character, who is Miss Pross’s brother. Mr. Manette was parallel to himself because he was sane most of the time, but occasionally became insane. Mr. Manette was also a double of Charles Darnay, as both characters had been unfairly imprisoned. Charles Darnay, also known as Charles EvrÃ©monde, is the same person but has different last names in England and France. All of these doubles and parallels are part of the magnificent Doppelganger effect. This novel gradually reveals each of the true doubles in the book, making it a challenging and delightful read. All this talk about doubles is making me see them inside my head.