Posted in Books, Education, English

A Tale of Two Cities and The Scarlet Pimpernel Book Review

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The SeaToday I am writing a double book review for my English class. The books I am writing about, as stated in the title, are A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy. I  thoroughly enjoyed these books. Unfortunately I can’t do separate reports for these books because that isn’t the assignment. Fortunately these books are really good so you can get lots of information.

Both of these books are written in the time period of the French Revolution. I know that it is probably messed up for me to have a favorite of these two books but my favorite book, of these two, is The Scarlet Pimpernel. While these are both set in the same time, I feel like, The Scarlet Pimpernel explains the events a little better. I am not saying that A Tale of Two Cities doesn’t explain the events, it does, but this book is pretty focused on the characters more than I would have liked. I guess that this is not really my choice, as to how the author writes his own story, but I still enjoy a little less of the character’s life and a little more background and time period explanation, at least in the beginning. (What do you think of this statement? Please leave a comment after this essay!)

An interesting fact, The Scarlet Pimpernel, unlike A Tale of Two Cities, uses historical characters. I think that this is fascinating seeing as though most authors would have used fictional characters in the specific time. For this fact alone, I recommend that you read The Scarlet Pimpernel first so that you can understand what was happening at this time, and then go on to A Tale of Two Cities and know why the sequence of events is taking place. If you are currently using RPC (Ron Paul Curriculum), in the 8th grade, you don’t currently get the option to read TSP (The Scarlet Pimpernel) before ATOTC (A Tale of Two Cities) so that doesn’t apply to you.

TSP and ATOTC are two completely different types of stories throughout most of the books. The only thing that the two books really have in common is the love story part of the book. Throughout TSP love is behind the actions of characters. However, with ATOTC, most of the actions made by certain characters are made because they want to help each other. Sometimes though, the characters do act because of love. The most obvious example of this is when Charles is in trouble and his wife has to find a way to help him. All throughout these few chapters, all of the characters act in a way that shows how much they love each other. That is the trait that these two books share the most, if this wasn’t in either of the books, these books would be rather boring.

This paragraph will be primarily about ATOTC. In this book, Charles Dickens again shows how great of a writer he is. This book is an iconic book especially when it starts with the famous, “It was the best of times, It was the worst of times.” This famous quote has made many people think critically about what that means. I am still trying to figure out what it means even though I have read several books since reading this one. While this book was very well written, it developed rather slowly. It developed slower than I have wanted in the beginning. Because it was written in that way, I found it hard to understand in the first few chapters of the book. Soon after that however, all of the pieces fell into place with the great character development, and plot. While Dickens usually writes books that have a lot of adventure in them, this specific book doesn’t have a lot of that. The book that does have adventure of that level is TSP. I actually didn’t expect this to happen because I thought that TSP would be a book all about someone going around France trying to find love, but I guess that is what I get for assuming.

I rather enjoyed the fact that ATOTC showed you that normal everyday people can do the extraordinary and deal with hardships along the way. This book showed us that in a way different way than TSP did. While they both showed heroes in their own ways, ATOTC showed it the best, to me. These characters had to deal with very different things so that may hinder my opinion. Although, they both had to deal with hard situations and had to deal with people that they probably had a very difficult time even meeting.

One very distinct difference between the two stories, is that ATOTC is not a story of adventure in the sense that TSP is. While they are both adventurous books, TSP displays the “gallantry” in a different way than ATOTC. In ATOTC, the characters stay in the same place for the most part. Whereas in TSP they are in another country for most of the story. This is fine with me because it shows how different the writers are and yet can have similar stories.

I think that ATOTC can show you true love. While this is true, TSP also shows you love but on a different scale. I think that the love, as portrayed in ATOTC, shows a deeper understanding of love than TSP does. Most kids my age would think love is about things other than caring about one person above all and giving your heart and soul to them. This book makes you realize that, and it makes you feel sad for them, because they are missing out. TSP however, shows you how to fight for the one you love even when it turns out that they are someone you never knew they were. When I say that, it may be confusing, think Superhero. Think of Clark Kent/ Superman, Lois Lane didn’t know Clark was Superman, all she knew was that he was a dork she worked with. Eventually the two fell in love and Clark showed Lois who he was. Lois loved Clark still, even though he was a hero who had saved her many times and she would fight for him (Even if he didn’t need it!). That is true love right there and that is the kind of love shown in TSP. I don’t think that I need to explain this any more than I already have because then it would become boring. All I have to say is that in ATOTC it shows a man who is in love with a girl and would do anything to fight for her. It also shows the time that it takes for a man to “get” the girl. That is why these two stories are great love stories and great books overall.

While ATOTC may have attributes to it that TSP doesn’t, so does TSP. In TSP there are many different disguises that The Scarlet Pimpernel has to take in order to save the “Traitors of France” (For you Uncle Jeff, I never answered your question. Now I know the answer so here) Some of these disguises are great and even tricked me. I didn’t think that would happen but it did so I think that this is a good plot line and idea. That is the one thing that TSP has that ATOTC doesn’t have at all. I think that the fact that TSP has something that the other doesn’t means that while two books can be about the same time, they can be very different. In other words, two books of the same likeness can be very much different. For this reason, I rather enjoy trying to find books from similar time periods but different “stories” if you will. (Let me know if you do the same thing!)

The characters from both books are also very different from each other. What I mean is that while they have similar situations, they deal with them differently which makes them different. Although this may be true, the characters are also similar because they end up in situations in similar ways. For example, when The Scarlet Pimpernel gets himself into trouble, Lady Blakeney immediately tries to go and save him because she loves him so much. While this is true, in ATOTC, when Charles gets himself into too much trouble so immediately his wife (not spoiling!) goes to help him, out of the love the two share with each other.

The characters in both books are very brave. I think that bravery was an inherited trait at the time these books were written because, almost every character in books is very brave and courageous. The reason that I see this as an obvious trait in most characters is because, for example, when Lady Blakeney went to go save The Scarlet Pimpernel when she eventually found out who it was. I thought that this was very brave and something that I don’t think that I would have done had it been me trying to do that. I don’t think that I could have even kept the identity of the Pimpernel to myself for the long time that she had to. The most amazing thing that she did was follow Chauvelin when he was searching for the Pimpernel trying to kill the man, once he found out who the man was. The really remarkable thing that happened was when she got captured by Chauvelin, when she was captured she didn’t “spill the beans” on the Pimpernel, even though that is what it seemed like, to me, she wanted to do in order to not get hurt too badly. The good thing about this interaction is that she didn’t do that, she kept her mouth shut and dealt with the consequences of her actions. What is very interesting however is that the Pimpernel didn’t try to save her when he had the time to. Instead he waited until it was too late for him to try and get out of the punishment that was inevitably before him. I know for a fact, if that had been me I probably would have given myself up and convinced the bad guy that Lady Blakeney had no part in knowing who I was.

One very good thing about The Scarlet Pimpernel, book, were the disguises. Some of the disguises were fairly obvious but most of them were very clever. One of the disguises ultimately fooled me to where I didn’t see anything that happened play out that way. What I mean is, I didn’t foresee that turn of events when I tried to play it out in my head. When I played it out in my head, I saw the old man get beat up and then the Pimpernel show up and save the people he was supposed to save plus the Lady Blakeney. One of the best disguises that the Pimpernel had was in the beginning of the book, the disguise was of an old man who was taking his “crops” to go to England in order to sell them. I thought that this would be an obvious thing to look at because, in the book Baroness Orczy tells you that he was driving a covered wagon. I would have searched the wagon in order to find the people and if he was telling the truth, “Oh well, it’s just extra precautions.” Another very well thought out disguise was of a man traveling to England, again, with beer. Well instead of the French standing guard searching the barrels, they searched a couple, which were empty, and let him go. The Pimpernel was that man and he was taking people in the barrels.

In conclusion, I think that these books are both very good. Although I do prefer The Scarlet Pimpernel, I did enjoy A Tale OF Two Cities. I hope that you liked this essay. This is definitely one of my longer essays so I thank you for reading it all and I hope that you enjoyed it. If you did leave a comment why and like if you didn’t leave a comment why and don’t like. Please subscribe for more essays by the Homeschooled Hero!

Until next time, your friendly neighborhood Homeschooler…



Just a dude who likes Performing Arts and loves Guitar.

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