Analysis of Parody 

Read the following analysis of the chapters you have read for this week:

"The courtroom scenes that open the second book of the novel allow Dickens to use a wonderful range of language. He employs a technique known as free indirect style, which fuses third-person narration with an interior point of view. He reveals the charges for which Darnay is being tried while rooting the reader in the uneducated mind (and ear) of the spectators: “Charles Darnay had yesterday pleaded Not Guilty to an indictment denouncing him (with infinite jingle and jangle) for that he was a false traitor to our serene, illustrious, excellent, and so forth, prince. . . .” The juxtaposition of formal (“our serene, illustrious, excellent”) and informal (“and so forth”) speech produces a comical effect by highlighting the unrefined crowd’s zealous craving for the juicy details of the case, even as they recognize the decorum of their setting.

Dickens also uses these scenes to implement another of his favorite literary devices, parody. The Attorney-General’s long, self-important, and bombastic speech at the opening of Chapter 3 offers a highly comical imitation of legalese and serves indirectly to ridicule the Attorney-General, as well as the entire legal system. Thus the Attorney-General’s informs the jury:

[I]f statues were decreed in Britain, as in ancient Greece and Rome, to public benefactors, this shining citizen [his witness] would assuredly have one. That, as they were not so decreed, he probably would not have one.

The Attorney-General melodramatically touts the virtues of his witness, John Barsad, and absurdly deifies him, as though Barsad were a great figure from antiquity. When he explains that Barsad would not in fact have such a statue erected in his honor, as no such practice exists in England, his words again produce a comical effect. They draw attention to the fact that the attorney’s first sentence glorified Barsad to the point of irrelevant hypotheticals. Moreover, the redundant nature of the Attorney-General’s statement highlights his obliviousness to the emptiness of his words."

After reading this analysis, see if you can answer the following question: 

What elements of parody does Dickens include in the trial of Charles Darnay, and what effect does this parody have on the scene and the way the reader perceives it?

You will write about this in this week's quiz.


This analysis is found at the following website:http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/twocities/section4.rhtml





Last modified: Thursday, 14 June 2012, 4:20 PM