Analysis Pages

Personification in A Tale of Two Cities

Hunger and Saint Antoine: Dickens personifies Hunger and Saint Antoine in a way that unifies the French peasantry into a single body—an uncontrollable mass acting (often irrationally) on paranoia, resentment, and enthusiasm for the public spectacle of execution.

La Guillotine: The personification of La Guillotine suggests both the widespread bloodthirstiness of the revolutionaries and a false idol erected in place of the Christian God.

Personification Examples in A Tale of Two Cities:

Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter II

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"finding none..."   (Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter II)

To set the dismal mood, Dickens employs foreshadowing, personification, and simile. These lines hint at the disastrous action to come.

"Hunger..."   (Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter V)

Through personification, Dickens writes that "Hunger" "ploughed into every furrow of age." This image demonstrates the peasants' suffering and foreshadows forthcoming misery and anger across the country.

"in this vinous feature of his..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XV)

Dickens personifies the city of Saint Antoine when he describes it as being in a “vinous feature” (i.e. that it, like a person, experiences the inebriating effects of drinking wine). Intoxication, in this context, symbolizes the revolutionary sentiment that would fuel the French Revolution.

"fused in the one realisation, Guillotine..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter XV)

The guillotine, as we have seen, is frequently personified throughout the novel—even to the extent that Dickens describes its victims as “red wine for La Guillotine.” Dickens’s portrayal of the insatiable La Guillotine suggests that this brutally violent machine is symbol of the republic itself.

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