Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tale of Two Cities: Exemplare Paper: Period 4

Tale of Two Cities Exemplare Paper
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.

19 comments:

Elaine T 4 said...

I really liked this motif paper on feet and footsteps. I think the author had a very well thought out assertion and had a clear focus throughout the whole paper. The author gave a copious amount of evidence and each paragraph in the paper guided me to the next and to the full assertion. I really liked how they tied the footsteps to each character in the book and what it meant for each character to hear in the footsteps. (Like why Lucie heard footsteps because she was pure, and why didn‘t Darnay hear the footsteps because of his pride and so forth.) The author also contrasts the different lifestyles between England and France and I really liked that part of the paper. The author also uses symbolism in the paper as well. (Like how mud is corruption, and wine is blood and so forth.) These symbols that the author used helped me understand more about Dickens’ message about how change has to come with bloodshed. Not only did the author use symbols and attach her motif to the characters, she also ties it with other motifs as well; other motifs like darkness, and wine. I really liked how the author brought in religion, Christianity, into the paper as well. Nice work. =]

casey w. 4 said...

This paper was outstanding. From reading this paper it gave me a better understanding about the motif I did (doubles).It helped me understand the contrast of Darnay and Carton and Lucie and Madame Defarge. This paper also intertwined with other motifs such as wine, doubles, ect. At some points in the paper I thought there was some unnecessary information but at the end it tied in great. However, in the paper I think there was a little confusion between Carton and Darnay because in the beginning it says Darnay doesn’t here the footsteps and then at the end it says the only two people that hear the footsteps are Lucie and Darnay but I think it was suppose to say Carton. I also liked how the author had evidence to back up everything they said. The author also took it a step further by linking religion into the motif. The comparison of the storm and the revolution also helped me understand the point the author was trying to get across about bloodshed comes before change. I liked how the author used a similar technique as Thomas Foster but they also added in their own style of writing. Nice Job!

Jen-T 4 said...

Wow. This paper makes mine look like a 4 year old wrote it. I thought this paper was amazing. The author used a ton of evidence and detail as well as an amzing job on the anaylsis end of it all. He/She thouroughlly took the time to think about the motif of feet (which is genious because i never would have thought of it) and really understand it all. You can tell as you read the paper that the author clearly had a vast great understanding of not only the book but the motif as well as other motifs like wine and religion. I liked how they gave the overall use of feet at the beggining of the paper and answered many questions in the paragraphs to follow. The writer had an asserition at the start of the body paragraphs which helped me focus in on what they were going to explain while reading. Overall, I thought this paper was amazing whoever did it. Its well written and well thought out. Marvalous! =]

Mat M. 4 said...

This essay is perfect and in my opinion, there is no other word to describe it. I honestly never thought feet being a motif and I like how in their assertion they want to prove how it connects past present and future. What I especial admire is how the author uses enough evidence as humanly possible. In the second paragraph I like how they identify how footsteps even though they are an everyday action, they have a deeper meaning. At first, we might not know what that is but the author paints a vivid picture of the footsteps significance. I personally like how she identifies footsteps in France are a “great storm” yet they are music in “England.” This really contrasts the intense differences between the two cities. Overall, this essay was very focused and it did not stray from what the paper was meant to be about. Awesome job!

Marissa G 4 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marissa G 4 said...

This motif paper is amazing! Before reading this i did not no the extent to the motif of feet or even that it was a motif. They got into other motifs.The person who wrote this paper had a great understanding of there motif feet and also the other motifs. I bet they changed there motif thats why they knew so much.THey used alot of evedence for each paragraph. They also used footsteps and tied it in with feet.They really went into the explaination of the footsteps and there meaning. Also i liked how they explained the diffrence in the two cities in the meaning of feet and footsteps. REALLY GOOD JOB whoever the author is!!

laura b said...

Wow!!! I loved this paper. I never though while reading the book that feet could make a motif. This paper gave me a better understanding of many things that happened in the book and that I wasn’t able to comprehend but after the paper it was pretty clear. I though the way she used evidence was great. She had so much of evidence for every little detail. it makes the paper easier to understand. I loved the way she wrote about each of the characters and explain what the feet meant for them. I also loved her closing it connects to everything in the essay.

Kellie L 4 said...

Wow, I never realized that footsteps could mean so many things as a motif. I really liked how the motif was explained so thoroughly with a lot of evidence. I also liked how the author said that footsteps foreshadow the future. Another element that I liked about this paper was that it flowed so easily. She went from writing about foreshadowing the future, to oppression, to Mr. Manette’s shoemaking. This technique she used made the essay very easy to understand and read. Also, I liked how she combined her quotes into her own sentences. I also thought that comparing the two different cities with the motif of feet was very helpful in understanding the difference with the two cities. Overall, I really liked this essay and how fluid the paragraphs were.

Ashley N. 4 said...

This paper was really well written. The author was very focused on their topic and supported their assertion well. It was interesting to see how the author connected a lot of the characters with the footprints. It's pretty amazing how like, the author was able to tie in things that are seemingly irrelevant to the topic, like Christianity and doubles. I really liked this paper.

Thanh N. 4 said...

First off, I was cringing the whole time by the word "feet" >.<, but besides that, I thought the paper was really great. I noticed that the beginning of it was similar to your example one, but it was not plagiarized. The writer provided appropriate evidence to their paper, which gave me a feeling that they fully understood what they were writing about. I never noticed these things, so it shows that the author gave some really deep thoughts about what he/she was writing. The transition was also very good; it just flowed as I keep reading on. There's not much to say but the person is very intimidating. (haha)

Lynn T. 4 said...

I like how the author first states that feet are vital and is the foundation, which is different. Usually we think either our brain or heart is important, but we don’t realize that something as repulsive as feet can be important and it also foreshadows what the paper is going to be about. I like how in the third paragraph the author writes her paragraph using quotes; she ties them into her sentences well. I like how she states that the louder the sound, the more oppressed a person feels, like when she says the poor people wear wooden shoes, which are loud, as opposed to Monsieur’s softly-slippered feet. I also like the paragraph about who can understand the echoing of footsteps. She describes two complete opposite epitomes, a pure figure, and a dark figure. I like the excessive amount of quotes the first time I saw it, but then you realize that a majority of the rest of the essay is like that, and the pages numbers distract me from reading the essay. I love the author’s opinion about how Dr. Manette makes walking shoes to protect innocent people. I thought that was ingenious, I would have never thought of that.

Katherine Z 4 said...

Wow, I never realize how important “feet” is and how it connects to the book as a whole. The writer demonstrates how vital feet are and how they provide a foundation in general. While I was reading the book I never notice the importance of feet, but as I was reading the essay, the writer made me realize its significance and their symbolic meanings. One thing that surprises me the most as I was reading this essay was how the write connects feet with Dr.Manette making shoes. I never thought that it was because he was trying to create a sense of freedom, and how he hopes to prevents women from the corruption of the world. I thought the write did an amazing job of analyzing each situation that associates themselves with “feet.” I love how the write ask questions then goes on answering it in the next paragraph. One thing that I find confusing at times while I was reading was the amount of quotes that the writer puts in. Sometimes the whole sentence will revolve around little quotes from the book, it gets distracting. However, overall the essay was great!

Belinda L 4 said...

I found this paper on the motif of feet very interesting. I loved how it pointed out Lucie's view on feet, Carton's view, and Darnay's view and how they differ. It shows how the meaning of revolution affects them and how the innocence Lucie helps her realize the danger of France while Darnay on the other hand is clueless about everything else. Using this, it also shows the roles of the characters, Lucie being pure and innocent, Darnay caring too much for his pride, and Carton who is able to notice all the bad things because of how he feels about himself. I also thought that the writer did a really good job infusing in what feet does in real life to link it to the meaning that the story gives it. By using the different sounds of the feet, we are able to tell the different conditions that occur in France and England, contrasting the peacefulness and the corruption in the French Revolution. One thing that I thought that the writer should fix is how she puts in little thoughts. I thought that the essay as a whole was too serious so by adding little thoughts into it made it a little awkward. the writer should either make the whole thing serious or make the whole essay more loose.

Victoria P. 4 said...

Amazing explication! I agree that it sounds like something Mr. Walsh would write. The opening shows how they are used and is short and simple to understand. Also it seems like it is very casual and the paragraphs seem to just flow right after one another. I’ve never seen so much evidence, which is obviously a good thing. I loved how he/she showed different ways with the motif and how the feet relate to choosing “a path”. Also the writer brought in so many other things like the religion and “stained red” (wine). The motif was shocking just because I did not even think about feet once while reading the novel. The write not only concluded it but made me realize and understand the novel even more!

Mr. Walsh said...

Belinda,

I agree with you wholeheartedly about the little asides and some of the conversational elements in the piece. I think the author's topic and tone occasionally clashed with it. I believe they were important to help structure and flow, but once the author had the flow down, he/she should have removed them.

Way to notice that!

-Mr. Walsh

Amir Q. 4 said...

This paper is nothing short of amazing, I never once thought of feet as a usable motif. The author is very clever in the way they wrote this essay. The incorporation of other motifs, something most others probably did, was extremely well done here, used almost perfectly to explain their point of view on the motif of feet. The entire paper almost perfectly explains how feet play a central role in A Tale of Two Cities. There were some things at are faulty here though. I did not understand how the physical act of “drinking the wine from the ground is metaphor for [the people’s] desperation to overthrow their government” and how this relates to the assertion or their motif at first. The author could be a bit more descriptive on other phrases as well. Other than that, this paper is very excellently. Not only for the level of writing but also for the way the author used a very inconspicuous and relatively unknown motif (to me) and was able to draw it out and present it in a way that made it easily understandable (except for a few parts) and flow very well into each subtopic, very great paper.

Andy T. 4 said...

Wow, this essay is very well written. I never would have thought of feet’s of being a motif. The first paragraph is very strong and like the other paragraphs, has a lot of evidence. I liked how the author ties her motif of feet’s with other motifs, wine and doubles. This is very interesting and I liked many things about it. I liked how the author showed us how some people hear the footsteps differently from others and only certain people hear it. And the ending of how “The Footsteps Die Out for Ever” when Lucie and Darnay leave France. It was interesting how the author compares the footsteps to a storm, raging on and then eventually subsiding. Great use of vocabulary and very few grammatical errors. This essay is great overall and good job!

::HebaK:: 4 said...

The writing style of this paper is different from what I am used to. It is short and concise. However it was written well. Everything was very clear, especially the intro. The writer also used questions and pronouns in a straight forward way. They guided the reader. The paper was creative. However I think that there were times when the writer misused comas. But overall, it was great and interesting.

Malik B. 4 said...

Surprisingly I found this paper very interesting. The motif and the structure of the paper were completely origin and I can honestly say I enjoyed reading it. There were some grammatical errors here and there, but overall they didn't really affect their argument. The author also used available evidence very well, it seemed that ideas through out the novel were connected to support one larger idea. I was impressed how so many ideas were addressed and connected to feet. I initially thought the motif of feet would be abstract and difficult to prove, but I must commend the author for taking on the challenge and doing so very well.