Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tale of Two Cities Exemplare Paper: Period 2

Read the following essay and comment on the author's technique. This is a fine paper and a fine bit of scholarship from one of your classmates. Do not be afraid to point out areas in which the writer could improve. Responses should be eight to ten sentences in length.

Feet: On the Path of Past, Present, and Future
Feet. They are smelly and easily forgotten, but they are a vital part of the body. They provide a foundation. They bring a person to a place. One can wear shoes (or go shoeless). They often make sounds (or are silent). They do ordinary things, easily forgotten things; they are second nature to breathing. In A Tale of Two Cities, the forgotten feet, too, provide a foundation. Charles Dickens uses the motif of feet, a reoccurring image, to symbolize a path that is taken in which connects the past, present, and future of the French Revolution and the people the revolution affects.

To truly grasp the true meaning of why Dickens uses feet as a motif, we must first examine it everyday function and the meaning that Dickens creates behind it.

A sound is made when a person takes a step. Dickens uses sounds as a metaphor to contrast the difference between the footsteps that echoes in Lucie Manette’s life and the footsteps that echoes in France to show the difference between France and England. In Lucie’s life, the echoes are “sometimes pensive, sometimes amused and laughing” (196). “[T]he echoes of her child’s tread…, and those of her own father’s,…and those of her dear husband” (196) are “near to her heart” (196). The footsteps bring happiness and joy to Lucie’s life; they are “music to her” (196) and they are “sweet in her ears” (196). “But, there [a]re other echoes, from a distance [in France], that rumble menacingly in the corner all through this space of time” (197). These footsteps are not “pensive…amused…or laughing” (196) but they “have an awful sound” (197). Footsteps are footsteps. However, Dickens uses the simple everyday action and creates a meaning behind it. Dickens uses footsteps to juxtapose the peacefulness of England and the chaotic of France. In England, the footsteps are “music” (196). In France, the footsteps are “a great storm” (197) that give “an awful sound” (197). The metaphoric contrast of footsteps and a great storm shows that these footsteps are powerful and they come with a great force. The use of sounds that appeals to the ears affectively highlights Dickens’s point. Sure, footsteps can be seen. However, one person can effectively identify the person’s identity or mood by the sound they make with their feet. Even though both countries share the same “space of time” (197), they are in two different worlds. In one country, England, the people are living a peaceful and quiet life, at ease. In another country, France, the people are living in a chaotic and chaotic life, oppressed. The footsteps tie these two countries together and show their differences.

Dickens uses the feet in more than one way. The stained feet illustrates the oppression of lower class in France and foreshadows the French Revolution. When “a large casket of wine ha[s] been dropped and broken” (24), “all the people within reach ha[ve] suspended their business, or their idleness, to run to the spot and drink the wine” (24). The people are hungry, literally and figuratively. The drinking of wine from the ground is a metaphor for their desperation to overthrow their government. The “red wine” (25) that “stained many naked feet, and many wooden shoes” (25) foreshadows the blood that will stain the revolutionaries’ feet. From the fact that the feet are naked or wear wooden shoes shows how poor these people are in contrast to the “softly-slippered feet” (118) of Monsieur the Marquis. However, with or without shoes, they do make sounds. These are the sounds of cries from the oppressed people. In Monsieur the Marquis case, “his softly-slippered feet mak[es] no noise on the floor” (118). Noises are made due to frustration. Monsieur the Marquis is happily content with this luxurious life, no need to stomp and pout like a child. The oppressed people stomps their feet in frustration to show their anger and their need for attention. Are they heard? Lucie hears the “echoes of all the footsteps that are coming by-and-bye into [her] lives” (97). She hears the footsteps from the angry revolutionaries that will later come into her life. The sound of the footsteps also foreshadow the inevitable revolution in France.

Footsteps make sounds and foreshadow the future. Darnay, Lucie, and Carton hear the echoing footsteps in the corner. But why do only Lucie and Carton really understand what it truly means? Lucie and Carton hear the footsteps as “black and solemn” (97) and as a “great crowd bearing down upon [them]…by the Lightning”, “com[ing], fast, fierce, and furious” (97). Yet, Darnay thinks that the echoes of footsteps are “not impressive” and “foolish” (97). Dickens portrays Lucie Manette as the perfect human being. She is beautiful, gentle, loving, and caring; the epitome of a pure figure. Because she is so pure, she can pick out the flaws and darkness of the world even when it is unnoticeable. Dickens portrays Sydney Carton as a pessimistic. He is a drunkard, “moody and morose” (139); the epitome of a failure. Because he sees the world in darkness, he can see the darkness of the echoing footsteps. And then there is Darnay. Why does Dickens leave Darnay in the cold, oblivious to the truth? Darnay is a person with pride; he neither sees nor hear “hardly any danger” (224) when he makes the decision to go the France, a grave in-waiting, in order to save his name, his pride.

France, indeed, is a massive grave. The footsteps that Lucie and Darnay heard are coming closer and closer until they knock at Lucie’s door. In the beginning, Lucie only hears the footsteps “echoed and re-echoed with the tread of feet; some, as it seemed, under the windows; some, as it seemed, in the room; some coming, some going, some breaking off, some stopping altogether; all in the distant streets, and not one within sight” (97). They are “afar off, and scarcely audible yet” (195). As time goes by, these “echoing footsteps of years” (195) gain momentum and they are coming closer to Lucie’s life. They are “[h]eadlong, mad, and dangerous footsteps” (195) and “in the years so long after the breaking of the cask at Defarge's wine-shop door, they are not easily purified when once stained red” (204). The wheel of the bloody French Revolution has turn and blood is spilled. The one that once has been oppressed is now the oppressor. The foot that once has been stained with red wine is now stained with red blood. Blood, unlike wine, cannot be washed off the mind so easily. Lucie comes face to face with the footsteps when “[a] rude clattering of feet over the floor” of “four rough men in red caps, armed with sabres and pistols” (271) enter her life and take Charles Darnay away. Again, only Lucie hears the footsteps of these men. Dr. Manette does not hear the forbidding footsteps and tells Lucie that that “staircase is as still as Death” (271). Like Darnay, Dr. Manette is oblivious to these footsteps but for a different reason. In Dr. Manette’s mind, he “ha[s] saved [Darnay]” (271). There is no reason for the raging footsteps to be coming and take Darnay away; therefore, he does not hear it because he does not expect it coming. Even after Darnay is released, still, Lucie’s “mind pursue[s]” “the dreadful carts rolling through the streets”, looking for [Darnay] among the Condemned” (268). Lucie is still afraid that Darnay will be taken away from her; wherein, Dr. Manette is positive that Darnay is safe. The footsteps coming up the stairs to take Darnay away are expected by Lucie, not Dr. Manette; therefore, he is oblivious to it.

So, the footsteps that Lucie hears echoing in her life belong to the revolutionaries that are madly raging through France. But that is not all. Feet step on the ground. Dickens uses the stains of feet as a measurement of how sinful a person is. In the 1700s, religion was a vital part of everyday life. Yet, Jerry’s occupation is a “Resurrection-Man” (152). The sinister of his occupation is shown through his “clay-soiled” (151) and “very muddy boot[s]” (55). The mud on Jerry’s boots shows the person of Jerry is tainted. Dickens has the Defarges “picking their way on foot through the black mud and offal” (164). Wherein, Lucie Manette, the perfect figure, Dickens lets her walks in a “lightly-snowing afternoon” (258) as “the feathery snow f[alls] as quietly and lay as white and soft” (260). Dickens paints a beautiful picture of perfect whiteness of the snow around Lucie. The pure whiteness of the snow matches the pureness of that Lucie. Needless to say, when the revolutionaries dance the Carmagnole across Lucie, the ground turns into a “slough of blood and dirt” (260). When Madame Defarge appears, she puts “[a] footstep in the snow” (260), says her greeting and she is “gone, like a shadow over the white road” (260). The act of stepping on and crushing the pure white snow and the shadow of Madame Defarge gives an ominous feeling and foreshadows the danger that will come to Lucie. “Barsad, and Cly, Defarge, The Vengeance, the Juryman, the Judge…the new oppressors…have risen on the destruction of the old” (347). The feet from the revolutionaries “are not easily purified when once stained red” (201). Are there any ways to prevent the feet from getting stained?

Yes. Carton and Dr. Manette. In one scene, “there was a little girl with a mother, looking for a way across the street through the mud. [Carton] carried the child over” (292). He prevents her feet from touching the muddy ground. Okay, he carries the child over, big deal. But we have discussed how mud is a symbol for corruption. The fact that he carries the child over the mud symbolizes his wants to protect the little girl from the corruption and madness that are happening all around France. Carton has made the decision to sacrifice his life for Lucie, his love. In the silence night he chanted “I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die” (292). In the quiet street, “the words were in the echoes of his feet” (292). These words mixing with his feet show that he has chosen his path. In more than one way, his sacrificing his life is a way to protect Lucie from corruption. The death of Darnay would have drove Lucie overboard which would lead to her looking for revenge. He protects Lucie in breaking the cycle of revenge.

On the other hand, there is Dr. Manette making shoes. During his time in prison, Dr. Manette took up the occupation of making “[a] young lady's walking shoe” (181). In making ladies’ shoes, he’s trying to protect a woman’s feet from getting “stained red” (204). The shoes are protecting the innocent people from corruption and hunger that have taken over many of the revolutionaries. Additionally, these are walking shoes; Dr. Manette makes the walking shoes in a hope that the people will flea from the evil of France, especially the women and not to be swept by the revolution. Locked in his prison, making shoes gives a sense of freedom since the shoes are for walking to places and in his small prison of “five paces by four and a half” (240), he has nowhere to go. He is making the shoes for the people being oppressed, but in a sense, he is also making it for himself. The shoes are a way to run from the revolutionary and from danger. After Dr. Manette saw the incident with Madame Defarge’s siblings, he saw the true meaning “of being oppressed, bursting forth like a fire” (301). He makes comfortable walking shoes in a sense that it will protect the oppressed people and to help them run away from the evil of France and its contagious corruption.

Do the footsteps ever stop making awful sound and step on mud? Dickens names the last chapter “The Footsteps Die Out for Ever” for a reason. In the literal meaning, the only two persons that hear the footsteps, Lucie and Darnay, do not hear it anymore. Lucie has fled France, leaving the awful footsteps of the French revolutionaries behind. Carton is the victim of the Guillotine, leaving the awful footsteps and the world behind. Figuratively, there is more to the footsteps dying out. In his last moments, Carton sees that in the “long years to come”, “a beautiful city and a brilliant people” will “ris[e] from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats…the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth” will “gradually mak[e] expiation for itself and wear out” (347). Dickens has compare footsteps and the action of the revolutionary as a “great storm” (197). A storm can be awful, it floods and kills people. However, in the end, it gives water and the flood leaves the land with rich topsoil. Like a storm, the revolution will not be pretty, and it will kill many people. However, in the end, when the storm passes and when the revolution passes, the government will be a better one. The raging footsteps will eventually subside just like a storm will subside.

In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens uses the motif of feet to link the past, present, and future of the French Revolution. The use of feet contributes to the sad fact that change will only come after a great storm of bloodshed. The novel ends in a sad note of Carton loosing his life. However, it also ends in hope of a better future. When the storm of the revolution dies out, the sun will come out, and with it, a new and improved government along with a true sense of freedom.

24 comments:

Chloe C 2 said...
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Chloe C 2 said...

Overall, a wonderful explication. Some things I would like to point out. The stucture is remarkably like Mr. Walsh's explication, especially the second paragraph. I feel that the excessive quotes distract from the flow. The paragraphs seem to switch direction, so it seems like there is no focus. It was a bit confusing at times; the 1st senctence of the last paragraph especially was awkward.The beginning of the paragraphs don't have a clear topic sentence. Most of the paragraphs have a lot of summary filled with quotes. The paper rarely referred back the the thesis. If it did, I didn't catch it. The thesis itself was not very specific. But the analysis was very thorough. The vocabulary was very good and there were few grammatical errors. The first paragraph I found especially strong.

Mr. Walsh said...

Chloe, thanks for your response.

I would concur on a couple of things you point out, such as some awkward and less than focused topic sentences and the flow with the evidence is occasionally jarring. I agree, too, with your point about going readily back to the thesis. However, I believe the author is doing something somewhat grander in his/her execution, which is having each paragraph build upon one another to a conclusion. The thoughts lead into one another, which is a difficult thing to do.

I also think there is quite a bit of analysis. Each bit of text evidence (there is a lot) is thoroughly analyzed and what he/she does impressively well is tie the motif into other uses of symbols, characterization, and structure.

But you are right and applaud you for noticing areas of improvement - even strong essays can be stronger.

-Mr. Walsh

PS - I told the author to use my second sentence.

Consuelo T 2 said...

This was a great explication. Though I do agree with Chloe, the constant quotes did make the explication a bit confusing at times. After awhile it looked like it was just all quotes. While reading it I also noticed that the ideas moved round as well. In the explication, it didn’t really refer back to the original thesis. Though, they did do a good job of breaking down their ideas, and they did support their evidence well. Though they didn’t refer back to their thesis a lot, overall their writing was great. The evidence they gave, and the way they used it (at times), was great as well. I think that this explication really shows their understanding of footsteps.

Cristina V 2 said...

I thought this explication was excellent. The author went above and beyond what I would have ever expected. I really liked their use of evidence within their own sentences. Also, I liked the use of literary terms such as juxtaposition, (because it is my favorite word.) The way that they explained the initial use of feet in everyday life was important to the paper as a whole and gave the reader a better understanding of the motif. Actually, I never caught on the footsteps motif and as I read this paper, it hit me as to how important this motif was to the novel. The author clearly had an in depth understanding of their chosen motif and the novel itself. Great Job!

Trang T 2 said...

I was amazed with the topic the author had chosen. It was creative and very meaningful. I couldn’t believe that he/she could use the motif of feet to point out to larger idea as a whole text. I like the fact that she had gone through process in explaining the reason why Dickens uses the motif of feet with full details. She connects the theme to each character who involves in it. The assertions were strong. It began at each paragraph to illustrate the point the author was going to address. The author also had asserted the text with specific examples. I love when she made some interesting questions. I knew that Dickens mentions the feet in a novel but I didn’t quite understand the true meaning of it because we hadn’t had a chance to explore it in class. Nice job!

Hillary D 2 said...

First off, the motif of 'footsteps' is a really rare one. I like how the author challenged him/herself in choosing it. T he assertion was a bit hard to comprehend (I think it was the sentence structure). There are many supporting evidences, which is nice because it is difficult to find many, but a bit too much? It didn't flow when I was reading it. The author also includes analysis to the end of her paragraphs, something I still need to work on. I like the way she associates footsteps with the sounds they make and how they are used, etc. I also like the way he/she compares the footsteps with France, London, and people such as Lucie--a very clever thing to do as to go deeper into the motif. The way the whole essay is written is somewhat smooth, but I couldn't really concentrate on it. It wasn't too conversational (also a problem I struggled with), and I applaud, but I wasn't interested enough. I wasn't lured in like the essay on Rain and Snow did.

Hillary D 2 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nikita R 2 said...

This was an overall good explication. However, like Chloe said, all of the quotes in the explication did make the reading a little confusing. The author did a good job of using evidence to support the ideas. By reading this explication you can tell that the reader had a good understanding about the motif and how it relates back to the novel. Also the author used great vocab and terms to make this explication stronger. Overall, great job!

Katherine Z 4 said...
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Jeniffer M 2 said...

I agree, as my previous classmates have stated, that this is a well-written explication. I like that the first sentence of each sentence is frank and states exactly what you'll find in that paragraph. I do agree with Consuelo, though, that it seemed that there were too many quotes jumbled up together and they'd want to sort their focus better. I like that they choose feet as their motif, seeing as how it's an original idea which makes the reader curious to read about it.
I think they did a wonderful job with their conclusion. It did it's job of a rubber band perfectly. It tied everything together.
They did, however, have quite a few grammatical errors, which is a pet peeve of mine. =)

Herman T 2 said...

I also agree with Jeniffer. This explication is well-written. However, I would like to point out its repetitiveness. There are some parts that didn’t quite fit in because it shifted so often from one point after another. The quotes kind of protrude from the flow of the entire explication. Some quotes didn’t seem like they fit, but they author would provide an analysis for these evidence. But some of the evidence still didn’t really make any sense. I also agree with Chloe about the strength of the thesis, the thesis wasn’t specific enough, it seemed more like it had a variety of meanings behind it, but still proved to be strong throughout the explication. The other errors I found were grammatical errors, but great use of literary terms.

Aaron G 2 said...

Wow that is a great opening paragraph. The technique of short sentences does work for this writer. Although I do not like the little second paragraph, it doesn’t really fit. Great textual evidence used in the third paragraph. They do a great job of connecting feet to the story. I don’t like how the paragraph starts, “ so,…” The next paragraph is excellent. Good transition to the next paragraph. Nice conclusion, and piece of work.

Jess L 2 said...

This is a great explication, and the only thing that I really have against it is that the author tries to hard to have that style that Mr. Walsh has given us many examples of. Sure, differing sentence sizes can be used for emphasis, but in this essay they are used too often, at the beginning of every paragraph and also in between. Also, like many have already said, there are too many quotes, and the author often quotes short insignificant phrases from a passage, which is unnecessary. Content wise, I think it was alright, and the author did answer the questions it set out to ask, although it could have gone without so much summarizing.

Mr. Walsh said...

I agree with Jess and what many of you have noticed, which is the style does not fully match the content. Here, the questions and asides don't always complement the content. I have some problems with the introductory paragraph. It doesn't match the rest of the essay, in my opinion.

However, I will argue against what some of you said, which is there is too many quotes or summary. I found that the quotes could be integrated with better ease at times, but to me, it showed a great depth of inquiry into the topic. As far as summary, I felt there was very little summary and most of the essay was explaining the motif. It was very analytical. Having read a prior draft of this essay, I remember telling the author that they may need to add some more context or summary to help with the analysis. To my chagrin, the author did.

-Mr. Walsh

Jimmy v.2 said...

This was a really great essay. I like how it leads you through where the motif shows up and then explains why it is important to the text overall. The intro reminds me of the other blog with Mr. Walsh's Holden's cap motif essay. I really liked paragraph 8 where it says that if Darnay had died Lucie might have become another Madame Defarge and continued the cycle. Thats an interesting thing to think about. I think there was a lot of evidence to look through and the author did a good job in connecting it with his/her assertion.

Jillian D 2 said...

This was a very good explication, it was nicely done, and the author did not just use a few quotes, but the author used many quotes that were nicely put into the paper. However like Chloe said it did make it a little confusing for the people reading to understand. When I was reading this explication I could tell that the author understood completely the motif, and how the author knew exactly how it related back to the novel. There are good transitions between paragraphs. However, I do agree with Jess L, the author answered the questions that they set out to answer, and it did do a little too much summarizing, but I believe overall it was good.

henry d:2 said...

Overall, this was an amazing explication. The structure and use of words much resembled Mr. Walsh’s explication. The explication was really confusing at times always leading towards another idea. For the explication seemed to discuss the motif feet in general, rather than focusing on the specific thesis. This style of writing probably caused the confusion for there were no references to the original thesis, if at all any. However, this problem solved itself in the end with the conclusion. I disagree with some of the classmates, the quotes were a necessity and there weren’t a lot of summary filled quotes. Kudos to the person who wrote this, it must have took a really long time!

DAvid T 2 said...

I like how this paper follows the style of “It’s more than just Rain or Snow” and Mr. Walsh’s paper. It easily flows and has nice transactions. There were some grammatical errors though. The author uses a lot of evidence to sort of back up their topic, but some of the evidence just started making me lose sight of what was going on, and confused me a bit. Sometimes, I didn’t really understand what the topic was all about, or if there was one. But, the analysis was good. Overall, the author did a superb job.

sandy j 2 said...

This essay was really good and efficient.I liked the beginning of the essay how the person gave bakground on feet. The evidence was used properly, and it relaed to the analysis. The essay in general was a little confuing but good.

Jillann C 2 said...

This explication was indescribably amazing. I like how David explained that it ‘flowed’ because that’s what it exactly did. The analysis is very good as well. The thoroughness of it makes the reader fully understand the point of the explication. This explication urges me to want to write more in depth and as well as this. I would also like to point out Cristina’s comment of juxtaposition because we really didn’t need to know that it’s our favorite word, however thanks for your input...anyway, the evidence was amazingly used as well in the explication.

Jessica F 2 said...

I thought this explication was very well written. I was truely amazed by this essay. I agree with Chloe that this is very similar writing to Mr. Walsh's. I thought that throughout reading this explication. I also think there was too many quotes. It had a good flow but the quotes were too much, in my opinion. The vocabulary was very good though. It was very weel written even though there were a couple akward sentences here and there.

Jessica F 2 said...

I thought this explication was very well written. I was truely amazed by this essay. I agree with Chloe that this is very similar writing to Mr. Walsh's. I thought that throughout reading this explication. I also think there was too many quotes. It had a good flow but the quotes were too much, in my opinion. The vocabulary was very good though. It was very weel written even though there were a couple akward sentences here and there.

Kim C 2 said...

This is a really great explication. I really like how th explication began with saying how feet provide foundation and is the foundation of a being. The writer also connected feet with everyday functions and events in the book. For everyday functions, the writer connected it to how feet can make sound and music. In the book, the writer connected it to echoes of footsteps, treads of the child, and trail to happiness. The writer also said feet are stained with red wine in a scene. At another part of the explication, the writer says that feet can foreshadow footsteps to happiness in the future or a massive grave. Its a very great explication how the writer connected feet to the past, present, and future.