“With a roar that sounded as if all the breath in France had been shaped into the detested word, the living sea rose, wave on wave, depth on depth, and overflowed the city to that point. Alarm-bells ringing, drums beating, the sea raging and thundering on its new beach, the attack begun.” Charles Dickens crafted an unforgettable image of the sea, in its tumult and turbulence, rising over the barriers to contain it, wreaking chaos, destruction, and hazard all around it. Dickens’ image of the sea rising builds on two ancient traditions concerning the sea; the more traditional and universal depiction of the sea as a center of chaos and storm and the traditional Christian depiction of the sea as the element of chaos, confusion, and sin.
As part of my bimonthly column, here is my literary essay on Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and how it relates the Easter story of the sacrifice and salvation of mankind. Read it here: A Tale of Two Resurrections.