The Gospel in Dickens
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March 11, 2012


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Oh yes....thank you for finally posting this. I was curious what you thought. I had a scathing rant about this composed shortly after I listened to it. Time has sobered me up a bit. I thought Charles and Lucie were actually pretty good. Charles' idiocy was kind of endearing. My biggest problems were with the ending. --spoiler-- Miss Pross is killed with Mme Defarge. --endspoiler-- I'm not really sure what this added. It doesn't make the story more realistic, it doesn't make it any more poetic. I can't guess what was running through the scriptwriters' heads, unless it was "Oooooh. We need a Hamlet reference right here! Neat! Let's kill Miss Pross and have her laying dead next to Mme Defarge. No, I don't think that will be cliche AT ALL." I say you shouldn't add anything to a masterwork unless you think you can do better and these guys certainly couldn't do better.
As for their treatment of poor Sydney...well, they really took a poop in cathedral on that one. The redemption of his character, is one of the most beautiful sequences in literature. Here it's sacrificed on the altar of grittiness and cynicism currently in vogue. This strips it of all meaning--and even of realism. He remains a self-hating drunk (literally) to the scaffold. He never changes his hatred for Darnay. There's never a sense that he's using this decision as a tool to change his own life while destroying it... and even though I have some issues with some scholarly interpretations of the Christian symbolism of the ending, this is also stripped away. And nothing is really left afterwords. Carton makes the decision to sacrifice himself seemingly on a whim. There's an implication that he does it so that Lucie is forced to favour his memory over Darnay. For all the huffing and puffing that the narrator does about Hope, the ending is almost devoid of it. Carton doesn't know if he's going to a better place, or if it's a far far better thing that he's ever done. While I could *maybe* get on board with this cynical interpretation of the ending, it isn't explored enough to be meaningful and ends up being a trite and faddish plot device unworthy of the original.

Could not agree more about Miss Pross's fate. There was no point to that. We already had one person sacrificing himself for Lucie, why did we need another?

As for Sydney -- I love your wording about a poop in the cathedral. :-D You've got some very good analysis there, especially about all the "hope" talk and the cynicism, and how he gives up his life without really changing his life. That was a big disappointment.

And one more thing I meant to mention: I really, REALLY could have done without all the descriptions of the guillotine and what it did to people! They got me so rattled I went and looked up guillotining to see if it was really true about people not dying right away. Mercifully, it appeared that most of the evidence for that was anecdotal and inconclusive. But still, YUCK.

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