2014-03-03 14:54 三立在线
The novel's opening statement "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" sets the tone for a story in which a given curcumstance is perceived as good or bad depending upon the point of view. Jerry Cruncher, for instance, considers his nocturnal occupation a viable source of income to provide for his hungry family but Mr. Lorry views it as an abhorrent practice worthy of censure. Under scrutiny Cruncher admits that the sights of the bloody revolution in Paris have convinced him that such an occupation is immoral and he resolves to give up the practice. The revolution itself is believed to be an abomination by the exiled aristocrats that meet at Tellson's whereas the peasantry, personified by the mender of roads and the woodsawyer, see it as an opportunity for empowerment and revenge. Most significantly, Doctor Manette's Bastille manuscript reveals that during his years in prison the doctor believed that the whole Evrémonde clan should be destroyed but when his daughter has wedded an Evrémonde he is resolute in his determination to save him. The litany of wrongs suffered by the French peasants including the horrible execution of Gaspard serves to create sympathy for events such as the storming of the Bastille. After the revolution turns bloody, however, the reader's sympathies are transferred to the doomed aristocrats awaiting execution.
The overarching theme of the novel is the struggle between those who have power and privilege and those who do not. At the beginning of the story, the French aristocrats exercise complete and more-or-less unfettered freedom to persecute and deprive those of the lower classes. This fact is harshly illustrated in Doctor Manette's prison manuscript which details how one of the Evrémonde brothers utilized his medieval privilege of harnessing a vassal to a cart and driving him like an animal to his death. It is also shown by Jerry Cruncher's insistence that the strict and violent sentence of quartering is "barbarous" and being told by the sanctimonious bank clerk that the law is just simply because it exists. Later, when the tables have turned, it is the peasants who use their newly discovered power to harshly persecute the aristocrats through mass executions and imprisonment. Darnay notes when he is first interred in La Force prison that the rough looking men are in charge and the prisoners are polite and civil. Jerry Cruncher is deeply affected by the revolution and he more than any other English character in the novel would have reason to be inspired by the uprising of the French poor. But as a good Englishman, his avowal that its bloody sights have caused him to reconsider his grave robbing occupation indicates that he, at least, recognizes the futility in avenging violence with violence.