One Hundred and Five, North Tower’: The City as a Prison-Home Narrative in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities (1859)
This chapter reads Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities as a tale of two oppositional domesticities, spatially coded in the cities of Paris and London. Dickens conceives of French homes as spaces of incarceration, while simultaneously constructing the Soho-home as a beacon of freedom. Prisons are burial sites of domesticity in Paris, while the wine-shop home of Mme Defarges subtly subverts and destroys the ideology of domesticity through its twisted appropriation of domestic tropes. While the ultimate aim of the novel is to protect the sanctified domestic ideal encoded in Lucie Manette’s Soho home, there is an oppositional and ironic narrative force at play; the catalytic power of the ‘plot’—its complication and resolution—comes from within these ‘living graves’ of the Paris City.