The Decapitations of Character in A Tale of Two Cities
Chapter four looks at Charles Dickens’s 1859 novel, A Tale of Two Cities. By examining parallels between the novel and Robespierre’s political philosophy, this chapter argues that Dickens’s novel understands the French Revolution not as an event that gave individuals the right of self-governance but as the event that formalized a conception of citizenship in which individual persons stand as avatars for the national will. The Revolutionary Terror and the guillotine are thus seen as the logical consequence of a theory of the nation that prioritized the People over individual persons.
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