The Role of Women in "A Tale of Two Cities."

Essay by ttdevelopHigh School, 11th gradeA+, November 2005

download word file, 4 pages 0.0

Charles Dickens's novel "A Tale of Two Cities" is a story of intricately woven plot lines driven by intriguing characters. The female characters are often primary forces in driving the other players and advancing the plot. It's been said that Dickens uses the women in his story to somewhat questionable ends; some say that he merely uses their womanhood for symbolism and crudely limits their portrayal to the reader to their rather boring superlatives. However this is not the case, as the beauty of Dickens's female characters, especially one Lucie Manette, lies in their actions and dialogue, and these techniques are used to paint a more subtle picture of their personalities and roles in the story. The female characters (namely Lucie) in A Tale of Two Cities is more than just a crude symbol, and through her underlying qualities and irresistible embodiment of the 19th century ideal of the perfect woman, she exudes a power over the male characters like no one else in the story.

If there is one single female character that encapsulates all the qualities that make a woman influential in this story, it must be Lucie Manette. Intentionally so on Dickens's part Lucie is characterized as, from a 19th century perspective, the perfect woman. She's compassionate (O, so overwhelmingly compassionate!), she's beautiful, she's delicate, and she's loyal. These qualities allow her (as so eloquently stated by said male characters) to exercise an uncanny efficaciousness over the gender so hormonally inclined to bend to a damsel's whim.

Through her interactions with the other male (and female) characters we learn infinitely more about them than we ever could otherwise. A perfect example of this is when Mr. Stryver asks Lucie for her hand in marriage. Stryver had always carried himself with an air of arrogance and rigorous self-satisfaction.