A Tale of Two Cities

by: Charles Dickens

Style

Main ideas Style

A Tale of Two Cities is written in a grandiose style. The omniscient narrator can see both into the past and the future, and uses this perspective to make sweeping pronouncements about human nature and what lies ahead. For example, after the Marquis heartlessly kills a young boy, the narrator describes how “The water of the fountain ran, the swift river ran, the day ran into evening, so much life in the city ran into death according to rule, time and tide waited for no man.” Imagery of water, and the repetition of the word “ran” creates the sense of looming disaster, and turns one specific event into a part of larger pattern. This style contributes to the effect of recounting history, because singular events are shown to cause major shifts in society. This same style is also evident at the novel’s conclusion when the narrator describes Carton’s prophetic vision of the future. He is able to look beyond the violence of the Revolution and predict: “I see the evil of this time … gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out.”