Tone

A Tale of Two Cities

by

Charles Dickens

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A Tale of Two Cities: Tone 1 key example

Definition of Tone
The tone of a piece of writing is its general character or attitude, which might be cheerful or depressive, sarcastic or sincere, comical or mournful, praising or critical, and so on. For instance... read full definition
The tone of a piece of writing is its general character or attitude, which might be cheerful or depressive, sarcastic or sincere, comical or mournful, praising or critical... read full definition
The tone of a piece of writing is its general character or attitude, which might be cheerful or depressive, sarcastic or sincere, comical... read full definition
Tone
Explanation and Analysis—A Cautionary Tale:

The third person omniscient narrator of A Tale of Two Cities adopts a tone that is sometimes satirical, sometimes cautionary, sometimes mournful. The narrator shows no mercy to Monseigneur, mocking everything from his morning routine, to his love for the theater, to his self-centered political ideas. The narrator is sympathetic to the plight of the starving peasants—that is, before they become revolutionaries.

Once the peasants begin to commit acts of violence against their oppressors, the narrator is aghast at their wild, bloodthirsty behavior. In a prophetic, quasi-biblical tone, he paints a sweeping portrait of the rising tide of unrest in France, full of vivid imagery and deterministic language. A Tale of Two Cities is notably less funny than many of Dickens’ other works. Dickens is renowned for his biting social commentary, and while A Tale of Two Cities contains plenty of this, the novel’s dark subject matter and intense violence make it a more somber read than the typical Dickens novel.