1793. This era of the latter part of the 1700's was a time when relations between Britain and France were strained, America had declared its independence, and the peasants of France began one of the bloodiest revolutions in history. In short, it was a time of liberation and a time of terrible violence. Dickens describes the two cities at the center of the novel: Paris, a city of extravagance, aristocratic abuses and cruelty, and other evils that directly corresponded to the revolution and London, a city plagued by crime, troubled with capital punishment, and in general disorder.
In both cities, the capabilities of an angry mob were a dangerous thing, to be feared by all. "A Tale of Two Cities" graphically depicts the struggle between the aristocracy and the peasantry of France and England. Dickens's focuses the novel on the themes of resurrection and revolution. Although many of the characters in the novel are involved in the intertwining themes of love, good versus evil, and the question of the worth of one's character; it is these two themes: resurrection and revolution, that Dickens utilizes for their breath and depth to accurately portray both the social and personal elements of the turmoil of the latter eighteenth century. In "A Tale of Two Cities" there are several social classes that are represented. In the character of Marquis Evr'e monde and Gabelle, the French aristocracy is embodied along with its cruelty, oppressiveness, arrogance, and their general vile mistreatment of the peasantry.
However, also in the French aristocracy is the character of Charles Darnay. It is apparent that not all French aristocrats are wicked, because Charles Darnay rejects the mindset of aristocrats; specifically, he displayed his remarkable integrity in his decision to reject and denounce the cruelness of his uncle, Marquis Evr'e monde. Dickens explains Darnay's rejection in that Darnay believed that "our name [Evr'e monde] to be more detested than any name in France". Darnay asserted that one of his reasons was because of the actions of Marquis in the killing of a boy with his carriage. In addition, Darnay argued that, "even in my father's time, we did a world of wrong, injuring every human creature who came between us and our pleasure...
". Darnay's rejection of his family title can be further understood from the events that transpired later in the novel. Darnay had chosen to live in England because he didn't want to be in any way associated with the aristocracy's cruelty. Upon reentering France, he was accused of being an emigrant.
After being acquitted of being an emigrant, Darnay was condemned to die because of the crimes of his ancestors, because Marquis had raped and murdered a young woman, her husband, and her brother; therefore it was also attributed to Darnay because he was an aristocrat of the same family. In the character of Madame Defarge the oppressed, defiant woman, and the unceasingly and remorseless bloodthirsty are represented. Madame Defarge was fueled by her hatred of the aristocracy, just as the peasants and poor.