The Scarlet Pimpernel Versus A Tale of Two Cities

The two books being reviewed today are A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, and The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Emma Orczy. Both books take place in France at the time of the French Revolution in the late 1700’s, and one of the common morals between these books is sacrifice and bravery, and if you read the books, you’ll know why. This essay will cover and review the similarities and overview of these two books, my opinion of them, and commendation.

To start this off, I will first cover A Tale of Two Cities‘ storyline (not trying to spoil or give away to much). One of the stories opening sequences displays a pleading Charles Darnay, an Aristocratic French gentleman with noble Aristocratic relations. He was held accused of treason against the English, and Mr. Stryver, a friend and attorney of his pleads his case, but to no avail until Sydney Carton, a drunkard, assists in the case and grants Darnay off the hook. This happened in 1780. Back in 1775, we meet Lucie Manette, daughter of Dr. Manette. She assumes her parents were dead until she meets her father in a garret protected by Monsieur Defarge. Her love was commonly referred as a revitalizing effect, and recalled her father to life, so to say. In 1789, the storming of the Bastille takes place, and a man associated with the maintenance of the Evremonde (Darnay has relations to his uncle, Marquis Evremonde) and is captured and put in prison. Darnay, returning to England, departs immediately for his sake and heads for France. It eventually leads into bigger and badder problems that Darnay did not expect, and in the end a surprising turn of events take place. I’ll leave the rest unknown for the reader’s sake.

The genre is historical fiction, and includes real life references and situations such as the French Revolution. Since it is historical fiction and refers to the time of the French Revolution, it is heavily driven by reaction and the Revolution itself. The main theme here is redemption and rebirth, sacrifice and heroism. The book displays redemption and rebirth when Carton makes a sacrifice in the end, and rebirth when he changes his drive and morals, after initially being a drunk man. You can also say other morals of the story include loyalty and love, but I find the first two are more evident as far as the book goes. The book is told from the point of view of an omniscient third person narrator, and proves to be a reliable source of information. The book’s author is Charles Dickens, and claims his source of inspiration for the book was from a certain play in which he acts in called the Frozen Deep, written by a friend of his. He wanted to further the reader’s understanding and knowledge of the French Revolution, and to describe the time of terror that is the Revolution. Other books by him included Barnaby Rudge, Great Expectations, and Our Mutual Friend. Barnaby Rudge was an historical fiction book that was written before A Tale of Two Cities, but later he writes Great Expectations and Out Mutual Friend.

The main characters of the book are Charles Darnay, a French aristocrat by birth who rejects the cruel values of his uncle Marquis Evremonde, Sydney Carton, an outright drunken man and attorney who is discouraged and insolent without a pursuit in life, Doctor Manette, former Bastille prisoner and loving father of his daughter, Lucie. Lucie Manette is a young French woman who grew up in England as an initial orphan by a ward of Tellson’s Bank. Her love was known to transform people and their standards, enabling her father’s “recall to life” in the early book. Other main characters include Monsieur Defarge, wine shop owner and revolutionary in Saint Antoine and also former servant of Dr. Manette, Madame Defarge, cruel revolutionary who hates aristocracy and is vengeful, and Miss Pross, the loyal guardian and servant of Lucie. The book in the early parts are told in set years and intervals of time and last until the latter parts of the Revolution.

Moving on is The Scarlet Pimpernel. It takes place in France at the time of the French Revolution. It primarily focuses and follows the endeavors of Lady Marguerite Blakeney, or Lady Blakeney, the wife of Sir Percy Blakeney. The Scarlet Pimpernel, on the other hand, is a masked hero who is responsible for the rescue of countless French aristocrats, saving them from execution. In the early parts of the book, he is only known as a mysterious Englishman who is wanted by the French government for his deeds. Throughout the book, he is more than ever elusive, but nonetheless, things take a different turn for the Pimpernel, his companions, and his adversaries. Read the book to find out more. That is the short version of the plot, but here’s a little more detailed rundown:

One day, Lady Blakeney is approached by a French agent sent by the government in hopes to find and capture the Scarlet Pimpernel. This agent would be known as Chauvelin, later in the book. At first she refuses, but eventually word is out that a colleague of the Pimpernel has a letter from Lady Blakeney’s brother Armand St. Just, implying his assistance and involvement with the Pimpernel. Again, Chauvelin approaches Lady Blakeney, asking her for aid in this mission, and she accepts, hoping for the safe return of her brother.

That night she attends a ball with her husband, Lord Blakeney (Sir Percy). She saw a note exchange between a friend of her husband and one of the men with her brother’s letter and manages to sneak a look. She tells Chauvelin where the Pimpernel will be at and at what time. When the appropriate time comes, no one is seen but Sir Percy asleep on the couch. In fear and despair of the pending safety of her brother, she asks Sir Percy to help her brother, and he promises back, and then he leaves for the north. After this point, it gets really hard to review with spoiling too much, so it is worth it to read the book and take a look of the whole storyline, it is very intriguing and is a very good read.

The book’s main theme is fighting  battle that can’t truly be won. The author of this book is Baroness Emma Orczy, The Scarlet Pimpernel is housed in the genre of historical fiction.

The main characters are Lord Percy Blakeney, established English gentleman and husband of Lady Blakeney, Chauvelin, the French agent who prompts Lady Blakeney and is sent by the government to capture the Pimpernel and oppose him, Armand St. Just, brother of Lady Blakeney and blackmail property of Chauvelin, Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, friend and devoted follower of the Pimpernel. Other characters are Comtesse de Tournay, aristocrat rescued by Pimpernel in the opening of the novel, wife of Comte de Tournay, also eventually rescued by the Pimpernel. Comtesse does not like Lady Blakeney because she thinks that Lady Blakeney was responsible for the condemned Marquis de St. Cyr and his demise.

          In conclusion, both books are very good, but I personally like the Scarlet Pimpernel more, it reminded me of a James Bond movie, but mixed in with Sherlock Holmes. A Tale of Two Cities is still very good, but it just lost my attention and was personally hard to track with all the time jumping.

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