A Tale of Two Cities

by: Charles Dickens

Tone

The tone of the novel is fatalistic and foreboding. Throughout the novel, the narrator creates the sense that inevitable suffering lies ahead. In the first chapter, the narrator describes Fate as a kind of woodsman who chooses trees to be fashioned into the wood of the guillotine and used to kill thousands of people, while Death is portrayed as a farmer driving carts which will eventually contain the bodies of those taken to execution: “”that Woodman and that Farmer, though they work unceasingly, work silently, and no one heard them as they went about with muffled tread.” These images work to create a dark and foreboding tone. Later, the novel’s urban imagery is also used to further this tone. The narrator muses that it is “A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret.” Events in London and Paris will reveal that ordinary residents can be capable of great cruelty and violence, or hiding mysterious pasts.