Discovering Dickens - A Community Reading Project

 Discovering Dickens

 A Tale of Two Cities

 Maps and Illustrations



 Biographical Context

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…the woman and girl who formed the staff of domestics regarded her as quite a Sorceress, or Cinderella’s Godmother, who would send out for a fowl, a rabbit, a vegetable or two from the garden, and change them into anything she pleased.

The comparison of Miss Pross to “a Sorceress, or Cinderella’s Godmother” alludes, of course, to the story of Cinderella. The following illustrations, from George Cruikshank’s Cinderella and the Glass Slipper (published in 1854, and thus nearly contemporary with Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities), show “The Pumpkin, and the Rat, and the Mice, and the Lizards, being changed by the Fairy [Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother], into a Coach, Horses, and Servants, to take Cinderella to the Ball at the Royal Palace” and “The Fairy changing Cinderella’s Kitchen dress into a beautiful Ball dress!”  Miss Pross, presumably somewhat larger than Cinderella’s Godmother in these illustrations, is supposed to be endowed with similar transformative powers.

Cruikshank, a popular 19th-century illustrator, created engravings for several of Dickens’ works (Sketches by Boz, Oliver Twist, etc.).

…a blue chamber, to which no one but her Ladybird ever gained admittance.

Admission to Miss Pross’ “blue chamber” – so-called after the room in which Blue Beard hid the corpses of his wives after he murdered them – is strictly limited. Miss Pross, however, is a single woman, and cherishes her privacy for less ghastly reasons.

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