A Tale of Two Cities
"A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens and French Revolution
A Tale of Two Cities is a novel by Charles Dickens that takes place during the French Revolution. It shows some of the events that led up to the Revolution and a few of the people leading it. The French Revolution changed the country and influenced other countries all over the world. A Tale of Two Cities shows how easy it is for people with a good cause to turn into the very thing they want to change.
Dickens shows the beginning of the French Revolution with the aristocracy’s oppression of the poor and their inhumane treatment. It was a bloody war. In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens portrays the French Revolution as an ocean that’s quickly getting out of hand “the firm earth shaken by rushes of an angry ocean which had now no ebb, but was always on the flow, higher and higher, to he terror and wonder of the beholders on the shore” (Dickens, 287). It gets so out of hand that its main leaders are killed: Maximilien Robespierre, George Danton, and Jean-Paul Marat (“The French Revolution” History Channel).
There are many events that led up to the French Revolution. When Louis the XIV was king he lost the Seventeen Years War, the country faced bankruptcy (“The French Revolution” History Channel). Latter, after Louis the XVI is king, he spends money to help the American Revolution against England. Besides money spend on wars, Queen Marie Antoinette had a taste for expensive and extravagant outfits and parties.The shortage of money, along with a lack of food due to bad crops, droughts, and disease that killed a lot of the cattle led the poor to retaliate against the rich people (“French Revolution”).
Another thing that fueled the Revolution was the new Age of Enlightenment. People started thinking more for themselves and started turning away from the church. They didn’t like how society was set up. The political system was a house of three estates. The first and second estate going to the nobles and merchants, and they third estate to everyone else (Carlyle, xxxiv). The third estate—the poor— didn’t think it was fair that the majority of the country’s population had less votes in the government than the two estates that made up one third of the population (“The French Revolution” History Channel). They wondered why the king, queen, and aristocrats had plenty of food, while everyone else went hungry (“The French Revolution” History Channel).
In A Tale of Two Cities the third estate’s condition is the same; they are mistreated and starving. The aristocrats, like Monsieur the Marquis, are cruel and don’t do anything to even try to help them. They are disconnected from the poor and don’t really know what all they face. The aristocrats don’t view the common person as anything more than an animal (Dickens, 398). The revolutionaries in A tale of Two Cities only want to have equal rights.
The French Revolution began in 1789. Maximilien Robespierre is a lawyer, politician, and an elegant speaker. He writes against the king and the nobles’ rich lives. He is present at the States General, a meeting of the Estates. During the meeting the Third Estate gets locked out. They shut themselves into a court and make the Tennis Court Oath. The oath says that no one will leave the court France’s Constitution is redone (“The French Revolution” History Channel”). The people of the new constitution named in the National Assembly. Fearing the people may uprise, King Louis the XVI sends troops to Paris. The people of the Third Estate are scared and fight back. During this fight the people decide to attack the bastille. They murder several guards and the Governor of the Bastille is brutally killed and his head is stuck on a pike. The Revolutionaries tear down the bastille and create their own flag/colors (blue, red, white) a a symbol of their separation from the old constitution (“The French Revolution” History Channel). Their violence at the Bastille and the lack of punishment for it will lead them to more violence.
In A Tale of Two Cities the revolutionaries storm the Bastille. The book doesn’t mention Maximilien Robespierre, though. Instead, Monsieur Defarge and his wife lead the attack (Dickens, 264). The governor is beheaded by Madame Defarge. The Bastille is a symbol of the aristocrat’s cruelty and the unjust law system. By attacking it and tearing it down they are farther proclaiming their separation from the aristocratic ways. It’s like a warning to all the nobles of what’s going to come if something doesn’t change soon.
“‘Is it a revolt?’ asked the king. ‘No, Sire,he is answered. ‘It is a revolution.’” (“The French Revolution” History Channel, 30:00). The king was told about the raiding of the Bastille. After the Bastille, on August 4, the people write the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” which marks the beginning of the Republic Government (“French Revolution”). The Declaration calls for a constitutional monarchy, equal rights, justice, and freedom of press.
Jean-Paul Marat takes full advantage of the freedom of press and starts a paper called “The People’s Friend.” In it he voices his opinions about the aristocrats and nobility (“The French Revolution” History Channel). His paper is strongly against the king and queen. When the royals at the palace Versaille hear about it, King Louis the XVI sends more troops to Paris. This angers the people of the Republic. On October 5, 1789, sixty thousand people, mostly women, march to Versaille. The kill multiple guards, make Louis the XVI sign the Declaration, and they move the king and queen to the palace in Paris.
Similarities in A Tale Of Two Cities
Two people who seem like opposites can be more alike than people think. In A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay display many differences even though they have similar intentions. An apathetic alcoholic who works with Mr Stryver as a lawyer, Sydney Carton describes his life as a complete waste and claims that he doesn’t care for anything.
But behind the facade that Carton uses, he actually does all the work for every case in court and he eventually transforms into a man of merit. On the other hand, born into a wealthy and notorious French family, Charles chose to live in England because he could not tolerate the injustices in France. Others consider Charles as a man of great virtue and as a gentleman. Although Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay present themselves in different ways, both men commit sacrifices in order to help others, and both are resurrected in a way that benefitted themselves.
Sydney Carton presents himself as insolent and indifferent to others while Charles Darnay presents himself as a very polite and mannered individual. During the trial for Darnay’s life, Sydney Carton slumps on his chair as if he does not care: this one man sat leaning back, with his torn gown half off him, his untidy wig put on just as it had happened to light on his head after removal, his hands in his pockets, and his eyes on the ceiling as they had been all day(Dickens 77). Even in times of great importance and formality like Darnay’s trial, Sydney still behaves indifferent. By the way Carton presents himself during the hearing he does not show any intention to save Charles. Sydney Carton acts as if he would not want to work and would rather be somewhere else. After Charles Darnay’s acquittal he shows thankfulness to Lucie and Stryver for helping him since he was acquitted: Mr. Darnay had kissed her hand fervently and gratefully, and had turned to Stryver, whom he warmly thanked(83). Oppositely of Sydney, Charles shows his mannerism to others in any situation. Darnay behaves as a gentleman-like figure because he goes out of his way to thank and even tell them that he owes his life to them. Charles shows that he has proper behavior which leaves a good impression of him. Darnay and Carton show their many differences in their actions with how they interact with others
Despite the different ways Carton and Charles display themselves, they both show selflessness to where they would abandon their own livelihoods because they know that they should do the right thing. When Charles argues with the Marquis on whether his family has been doing wrong, Charles renounces his title giving up incredible wealth and explains why: To the eye it is fair enough, here; but seen in its integrity, under the sky, and by daylight, it is a crumbling tower of waste, mismanagement, extortion, debt, mortgage, oppression, hunger, nakedness, and suffering(126). Giving up unimaginable wealth and status to do good for others is an important sacrifice that Charles made. Charles cares more about his honor and being righteous rather than living a luxurious life. He is very empathetic because he does what is right to help others. After Charles was sentenced to be executed Little Lucie begs Carton to help Charles, Carton then whisperers something into Lucie’s ear knowing that he is going to die for the Manettes: A life you love(334). Sydney Carton is going to sacrifice his life for Lucie because he loves her. Giving up one’s life for another person is the greatest act of love that anyone can do for someone. Sydney so selfless that he would lose his life for someone he loves. Darnay and Carton both show altruism in their actions because they both offered up something for the better.
Charle Darnay was recalled to life in a way that he was given a second chance to live, and Sydney was recalled to life in a way that he was able to gain salvation. After Charle’s trial for his life he is congratulated by Jarvis Lorry, Stryver, Alexander Manette, and Lucie for being acquitted: Doctor Manette, Lucie Manette his daughter, Mr Lorry, the solicitor for the defense, and its counsel Mr. Stryver, stood gathered round Mr. Charles Darnay-just released-congratulating him on his escape from death(81). Since Charles Darnay was acquitted he is given a second chance to life. With this second chance Darnay gains confidence and is able come to terms with his family and the Marquis. Charles takes advantage of being recalled to life and gains benefits from it. When Sydney awaits his execution he thinks: ?It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest than I have ever known'(372). By taking the place in Darnay’s execution he is finally satisfied with himself. Sydney now gains purpose and salvation. Carton is recalled to life because he realizes he knows that he is going to do something good for the Manettes. Before Carton is executed he has a prophetic view of the future: “I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous, and happy”(372). Sydney’s resurrection turns him into a hero. He is going to die knowing that everyone he cared for will be happy. Sydney redeems himself and his life is restored. Being resurrected like Charles and Sydney can bring rewards and change you for the better.
Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay seem like polar opposites, but in actuality are alike. They were both made better people through sacrifice and resurrection. Sydney was able to change the way he looks at the world and Charles was able to redeem his family name by doing what is right for the people they care for. But both men had to make hard choices to become better people. Sometimes making the choice to sacrifice something that is really important can be a really difficult decision to make. But making sacrifices can help people that they love and resurrect people in a way that changes them for the better.
A Tale of Two cities by Charles Dickens
A Tale Of Two Cities was written by Charles Dickens, Published in London, by Chapman Hall in 1859. One of the main characters, Charles Darnay, leaves his hometown England because of the cruel acts of his family the Evremonde. He then travels to Paris where he is sentenced to go to prison because of his family the Evremonde.
It is 1775, Mr.Jarvis Lorry is road tripping to Paris to explain to Lucie Manette, The long lost daughter of Dr.Manette, that she is not an orphan after all. Lorry then explains to Lucie that she must travel with him to meet her father Dr.Manette, The father of Lucie Manette who spent eighteen years in prison prior to the French Revolution, who had recently been released from prison from the Bastille. Dr.Manette had really lost all hope until he met his daughter for the first time. He knew Lucie was his daughter as soon as he compared a string of his wives hair to hers.He then regained all the hope and traveled back to London with Lucie and Mr.Lorry. Aproximatley five years after Manette and Lucie reunited the man named Charles Darnay was sent to court in London on account of treason for providing their English secrets to the French and Sydney Carton, a young drunk, depressed English man, who looks remarkably like Charles Darnay, precludes any positive identification and allows Darnay’s acquittal. After court Darnay, Carton, and Stryver eventually fall in love with Lucie. All of the men sway over Lucie, but she favors Darnay and marries him. A while later, Carton alone comes to Lucie’s home and tells her that while expecting no love in return, he would do anything for her at any time.
Meanwhile Darnay has been hinting to Dr.Manette that he is a French nobleman who has renounced his title. Weeks later after their wedding, Darnay hears that his Uncle Monseigneur, has been murdered in his bed for his crimes against the French people, which means that Darnay is next in line to gain that title. He tells no more of this than to Dr.Manette. Darnay then travels back to Paris where he is imprisoned as a nobleman and an emigrant. Back home Dr.Manette, Miss Pross,Lucie’s governess, and friend, Lucie, and her child all follow Darnay to Paris. Once they arrive Darnay is once again denounced by the Defarges, leaders of the French Revolution, a charge which is made even stronger by Monsieur Defarge’s revelation of a paper document that he found in Dr.Manette’s old prison cell. The document recounts that Manette was imprisoned by the Evremondes by having witnessed the rape of a peasant girl and the murder of her brother. Darnay is then brought back to prison and sentenced to death.
Unknowingly, Carton had also traveled to Paris because of Lucie. When Carton arrives he selflessly sacrifices himself to save Darnay’s life. Carton then forces the help of John Barsad to help him with plan. Shortly after, Carton overhears Madame Defarge, French Revolution leader who is obsessed with getting revenge on the Evremonde family, planning to kill Lucie and her child. Carton also figures out that Madame Defarge is the surviving sister of the peasant girl who was raped and of the boy who was stabbed by the Evremonde family. He then immediately plans for the Manettes to evacuate. After this Carton uses his influence with Barsad, a worker as a turnkey, to get into Darnay’s cell. Carton drugs Darnay, switches clothes with him, and then has Barsad carry him out to safety. Meanwhile, Madame Defarge knocks on the Manettes door expecting to see Lucie but gets Miss Pross. Madame Defarge snoops around looking for Lucie but Miss Pross will not let her go into any rooms. Not shortly after Miss Pross and Madame Defarge get into a fight. Defarge pulls out her gun meaning to shoot Miss Pross, but Miss Pross accidently aims it towards Defarges head and kills her. Back in London, Darnay returns back to the Manettes happily while Carton is walking up to the guillotine about to die in Darnay’s place happy, with the knowledge he is doing a good deed.
Sacrifice is a major theme in A Tale Of Two Cities. I Mean think about it. Sacrifice is a major theme personally throughout this entire book. Dr.Manette sacrificed his own freedom in order to preserve his integrity. Charles Darnay sacrificed his family, wealth, and heritage in order to live a life free of guilt. And most of all Sydney Carton sacrificed his own life for the ones he loved. “ It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done it is a far, far better rest that I go than I have ever known”. Throughout all of these situations of sacrifice, Dickens suggests that, while painful in short term, sacrifice will lead you to a future, and happiness.
A Tale Of Two Cities was not my cup of tea at first. Adding on to this, it was hard to interpret, and it did not interest me. However, when I started to uncover how emotional it was, how meaningful it was in so many ways, and the amount of sacrifice compounded into one book made me enjoy A Tale Of Two Cities. Saying this, I would recommend A Tale Of Two Cities to anyone who is interested in British Literature.
A Tale of Two Cities – a novel about the devotion of a family
One of the most well-known books is A Tale of Two Cities. A novel that tells the devotion of a family while England and France are in a major war. There are many elements to this story, including the plot, characters, and quotes, and this story’s elements are very different than other stories’.
The plot is one of the essential things to a story, and this story is no exception. Our story starts out in 1775. We find Mr. Lorry, a businessman, with a young woman, Lucie, going to free a prisoner with no crime over his head. The prisoner, whose name is Doctor Manette, and is also Lucie’s father, has been held in France for the past 18 years. When they go to free him, they don’t meet Doctor Manette though, in his place is a broken man who makes shoes. They head back to France with the broken Doctor Manette. Five years later, we head off to a trial, the trial of Mr. Charles Darnay, who is thought to be a spy. Miss Lucie and Doctor Manette are key witnesses in this case, and we see that the Doctor is no longer as broken as he was. During the trial, however, they reveal how Charles has a look-alike stranger, Mr. Sydney Carton. Darnay is called innocent. Both Carton and Darnay have taken a liking to Miss Lucie. Later on, Charles Darnay actually does marry Lucie. On their wedding day, Charles has a long talk with Doctor Manette about his life before he came to England. He is actually Charles Evremondes and is apart of a rich family in France. But as it turns out, the rest of his family are jerks. The Doctor decides that Charles is not like the rest of his family. France is not doing too great. Charles uncle, the Marquis, has been stabbed in the night and is dead. The Marquis though has made a lot of enemies.
So many enemies in fact, that the caretaker of the mansion has been arrested and put in prison. Charles receives a letter from this caretaker as he asks Charles to come and witness to his trial, so without telling his wife or father-in-law, he heads off to France. His timing couldn’t have been worse, as the revolution is happening. When he gets to France, he has been taken prisoner. Luckily, his favorite family is to the rescue. It takes a long time, but the Doctor does free Charles. Sadly though, the same night he is released, he is arrested again. The next day, a trial is held, a man named Defarge, the leader of the rebellion, produces a letter that Doctor Manette wrote when he was in his prison cell, depicting why he was arrested. His letter contains a tale of death, rape, and horrible human beings, these horrible human beings were Charles’ father and uncle. The Jury decides to kill Charles for his father’s crimes. The night before he is executed, Sydney Carton, Charles’ look alike stranger, shows up and takes Charles’ place. He wants to die for Charles, so Charles can live a long life with his wife and daughter. The next day, Sydney dies by the guillotine, as he says that it is the best action he has ever taken. This plot is exciting, adventures and amazing for its time.
Characters are also very significant to the story. Two significant characters are Doctor Manette and Lucie. Doctor Manette is an outstanding guy, especially considering all the hardships in his life. He was a prisoner for a long 18 years. He became a broken man as he started making shoes to keep himself sane. His daughter pieced him back together. We soon see that he is just an overall good guy. The night before Lucie’s wedding, she has set out a time just for the two of them to sit and talk. She is worried that he will suffer from her marriage, but he says to her. “‘My future is far brighter, Lucie, seen through your marriage than it could have been than it ever was without it… Believe it love! Indeed it is so. Consider how natural and how plain it is, my dear, that it should be so. You, devoted and young, cannot freely appreciate the anxiety I have felt that your life should not be wasted-wasted my child- should not be wasted, struck aside from the natural order of things, for my sake.
Your unselfishness cannot entirely comprehend how much my mind has gone to this’ but only ask yourself, how could my happiness be perfect, while yours was incomplete?’” There is no question that he only wants what is best for his child, even if it’s not the best for him. But the fact that he is selfless isn’t what makes him a good character in my mind, but that he is still haunted by his imprisonment. Whenever times get hard, he goes straight to his old ways and starts making shoes. He copes with his feelings this way because he doesn’t know how to do anything else. He goes into this trance that he used have during his prison time. But he wouldn’t have made it out of this trance if it wasn’t for his daughter, Lucie Manette. “She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and to a Present beyond his misery.” Lucie always has her father’s best interest in mind. She wants to make sure that he is doing well, is happy, and that he isn’t troubled by the choices she makes. She is selfless, just like her father, and she loves people so much. She just about faints when they call her husband to the guillotine but pulls herself together because she wants to be there for Charles. Lucie and Doctor Manette go hand in hand and are two of the most important characters in Tale Of Two Cities.
One thing every book needs are good quotes.
I think there are two outstanding quotes in this story. In the first quote, Doctor Manette has just come out of a “depressed” state, which he went to making shoes on his workbench. His friend, Mr. Lorry is asking him to explain why this experience might have happened. “‘You see,’ said Doctor Manette, turning to him after an uneasy pause, ‘it is very hard to explain, consistently, the innermost workings of this poor man’s mind. He once yearned so frightfully for that occupation, and it was so welcome when it came; no doubt it relieved his pain so much, by substituting the perplexity of the fingers for the perplexity of the brain, and by substituting, as he became more practiced, the ingenuity of the hands, for the ingenuity of the mental torture; that he has never been able to bear the thought of putting it quite out of his reach. Even now, when I believe he is more hopeful of himself than he has ever been, and even speaks of himself with a kind of confidence, the idea that he might need that old employment, and not find it, gives him a sudden sense of terror, like that which one may fancy strikes to the heart of a lost child.’” (Page 201.)
This is talking about how Doctor Manette deals with pain, he uses his hands to create something new, in his case, shoes. He wants to keep his workbench by him just in case he might need it whenever that pain comes to him. It frightens him to think about what he would do if he didn’t have that workbench to help him release his feelings and thoughts. I love the analogy of this quote as those who have had this experience understand, while those who haven’t experienced it simply don’t. Another quote that is incredibly descriptive talks about one of the ways the French used to kill people for their crimes, the Guillotine. Above all, one hideous figure grew as familiar as if it had been before the general gaze from the foundations of the world–the figure of the sharp female called La Guillotine. It was the popular theme for jests; it was the best cure for a headache, it infallibly prevented the hair from turning grey, it imparted a peculiar delicacy to the complexion, it was the National Razor which shaved close: who kissed La Guillotine, looked through the little window and sneezed into the sack. It was the sign of the regeneration of the human race.
It superseded the Cross. Models of it were worn on breasts from which the Cross was discarded, and it was bowed down to and believed in where the Cross was denied. It sheared off heads so many, that it, and the ground it most polluted, were a rotten red. It was taken to pieces, like a toy-puzzle for a young Devil, and was put together again when the occasion wanted it. It hushed the eloquent, struck down the powerful, abolished the beautiful and good. Twenty-two friends of high public mark, twenty-one living and one dead, it had lopped the heads off, in one morning, in as many minutes. The name of the strong man of Old Scripture had descended to the chief functionary who worked it; but, so armed, he was stronger than his namesake, and blinder, and tore away the gates of God’s own Temple every day.” (Page 272.) I love how it says that it is like a toy-puzzle for a young devil, who might take it apart for a while, meaning he doesn’t use it, or he might play with it every day, meaning he uses it a lot. It explains how people thought that God had abandoned them. Another fascinating part to me is that if you didn’t know what the Guillotine was, then you had no clue how it stopped people’s hairs from turning gray, was the best cure for a headache or was a razor that shaved close. These two quotes describe something in a way no one would expect it, which is why they are my favorite quotes.
Everyone’s opinion matters and everyone has a different opinion.My opinion is that I would recommend A Tale of Two Cities. It is a novel bursting with action, romance, plot twists and lessons I think everyone should learn. But if you are lucky enough to read and understand A Tale of Two Cities, I think you will be very impressed and delighted by the story.
There are key points that every book must have like plot, characters, quotes and how people see the book/recommend it. A Tale of Two Cities is bursting at the seams with so many different aspects, including romance, action, deep characters, and even deep quotes. So let me ask you, what other books have you read that carry the same complexity, same detailed plot and characters, and the same thought-provoking quotes as A Tale of Two Cities?
Tale of Two Cities about sacrifice
The word sacrifice can be viewed differently based on perspective. The meaning of sacrifice can be either for the good or bad. Sacrificing something by your own will shall make you a better person in your own perspective.
When something is so close to the heart that you can’t just devote your power over someone else’s happiness. In the novel, A Tale of Two Cities, the character named Sydney Carton plays a very heroic role at the end of the novel. His love towards Lucie Manette devotes him to sacrifice his own life for her happiness while changed him as a person and made him do something beyond his values. The particular sacrifice illuminates the character’s values and provides a deeper understanding of the meaning of the work as a whole because the idea evolves around resurrection. The whole meaning of the novel is based on characters being recalled to life. Carton’s values in life were always the same but because of the lack of pursing his life, he never really needed to prioritize anything. Thus, Carton’s values such as his integrity, reliability, and care for Lucie is shown through his sacrifice of his life which resurrected him into a better person.
Sydney Carton’s values of integrity have made him a better person. As described by Dickens, Carton is an alcoholic, has lack of respect towards other and just didn’t care about life in general. At a young age, his parents died and that made him this way. He always had the motto of?…- I don’t care about anyone, so no one cares about me. (Dickens, 87) But, this was Carton before he fell in love with Lucie. Lucie resurrected him in being an honest person from what he was before. The man who said he doesn’t care about the anyone later confessed his love for a girl. As stated, O Miss Manette, when the little picture of a happy father’s face looks up in yours, when you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you! (Dickens, 157). This shows that how Carton knows that he won’t be able to have Lucie in his life but wishes for their happiness and well being. Lucie certainly changed Carton in being a better person which changed him from his old self. Also it states that, I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. This shows that he was not on the same page with Lucie about his love confession but believes that their family will recall him back to life. All in all, this shows that they Carton become a better person by showing his integrity towards Lucie who devoted him in being this way.
Reliability was one of the other values of Sydney Carton. It could mean that he kept his promise and is loyal to it. He did make a promise to Lucie that he went to pursue at the end of the book. This has resurrected him as a better person because he did what he promised. As he stated, Be comforted! he said, I am not worth such feeling, Miss Manette. An hour or two hence, and the low companions and low habits that I scorn but yield to, will render me less worth such tears as those, than any wretch who creeps along the streets. Be comforted! But, within myself, I shall always be, towards you, what I am now, though outwardly I shall be what you have heretofore seen me. The last supplication but one I make to you, is, that you will believe this of me. (Dickens, 152) This means that he has a last request that he wants to make and wants Lucie to believe in him. His promise that he made to Lucie will uplift her life. Based on the text it states that, O Miss Manette, when the little picture of a happy father’s face looks up in yours, when you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you! (Dickens, 153) This proves that he is ready to even give his life away for the ones Lucie cares and loves. His promise indicates the reader that he will sacrifice his life for Lucie’s happiness. While he wants to be remembered that he will also a part of Lucie’s well being in the future. Thus, Carton becomes a better person which shows his reliability because he kept up with the promise that he made to Lucie.
Lastly, Sydney Carton showed his care for Lucie by sacrificing his own life for her happiness. As the previous paragraph states about the promise he made which was that he is ready to give up his life for Lucie or any other member that Lucie cares for. Lucie’s husband, Charles Darnay was accused of being a spy and was sentenced to death. But, as Dickens informed the reader that Darnay and Carton looks alike. So, Carton pretends to be Darnay and sacrifices his life for Lucie. As stated, Quickly, but with hands as true to the purpose as his heart was, Carton dressed in the clothes the prisoner has laid aside, combed back his hair, and tied it with the ribbon the prisoner had worn.(Dickens, 350) This shows that he got himself in the form of Darnay which prepared him to sacrifice himself for the love of his life. In addition, his statement that he stated before dying was that It is far, far better thing I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. (Dickens, 372) This shows that he sacrificed his life for the person whom he loved. Lucie’s love towards Darnay made Carton sacrifice his life for her because he said that he would give away his life for the ones that Lucie cared about. Overall, Carton’s care towards Lucie’s happiness led him to give away his life and which made him a better person because he was resurrected into Lucie’s life again, as a better person.
Conversely, Carton showed his honesty, he kept up with his promise and his care and love towards Lucie devoted him to sacrifice his life for her. He kept up with his values in life and Lucie helped him to be a better person. He showed a great progression from a person he used to be to who he is now remembered as. It is truly what matters that someone believes as their values in life and it’s also the good deed that carries your further. Not only has he been recalled to life after his sacrifice but also recalled to life as being an honest person, showed great reliability and most important love and care which emphasized his values in life.
A Tale of Two Cities: Opportunity in the Face of Failure
When a man’s road to happiness is cut off by a wrong turn and a person finds themselves lost in an unknown state, a second chance is a miraculous hand that comes out at the person, opening up another path, even at his lowest of stages, to once again be able to reach at a goal. That is life. A second chance, if taken, can act as a renewal of vows or even as a renewal of the person’s choices. Within the notorious 19th century novel, A Tale of Two Cities, written by the English author, Charles Dickens, this revival or rebirth can be found in the essence of life that make up the characters that take part in the novel. The protagonist in the novel proves himself to be a well-mannered man named Charles Darnay who ventures out to Britain, leaving a shameful aristocratic life behind in France. Thus this was common move as the novel situates a revolutionary time period; a time period where all of France is wreaking havoc in revolt and people either escape or get killed. It is through this revolution, under every dark pebble in the path to revolution, behind every nook, and in every corner of this revolution, that a revival is found enlightening a new force of people and ideas to prosper.
Dicken’s most notable feminine character, Ms. Lucie Manette, is seen as an outstanding reference to this theme of resurrection found reoccurring endlessly in the novel. Lucie is a person that ingeniously unites everyone together, whether considering Sydney carton, an alcoholic friend, Dr. Manette, her father, or Darnay her husband, she keeps the world from going mad and brings them all together, “Ever busily winding the golden thread that bound them all together, weaving the service of her happy influence through the tissue of all their lives, and making it predominate nowhere, Lucie heard in the echoes of years none but friendly and soothing sounds.” She brings out resurrection in never letting the family fall apart, yet the opposite, she continuously unites and nurtures the bonds, furthering everyone’s development and picking everyone up when in need, as if she were an all-powerful Eve figure. Yet Lucie is seen to never drop her nurturing figure that resurrects everyone who comes near her as later on in the novel she’s seen to go all out in search for her imprisoned husband. She represents a perfect mother and when receiving word her husband Darnays been imprisoned, she felt it her duty to go there with her father in an effort to get him out and recall him back to life, call him out of a wrongfully sentenced imprisonment. Thus she demonstrates this in her argument with Madame Defarge and begs her to spare his life and to even think of it through a perspective “as a wife and a mother”. Showing her efforts to enlighten not only those close to her, but those against her, such as Madame Defarge, whom she tried to get to see in the same way that she sees, a view that a second chance is right, that revival is a thing sacred to a person; something her husband was in need of as his death was staked on whether he’d be able to get out.
Lucie Manette’s father, Dr. Manette, is another quite critical example of resurrection within the novel. Now, Doctor Manette had been imprisoned for 18 years of his life, wrongfully, missing out every aspect of his daughter, Lucie’s childhood. “She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and to a Present beyond his misery: and the sound of her voice, the light of her face, the touch of her hand, had a strong beneficial influence with him almost always.” He spent so much time in prison without human contact that he went virtually mad. Yet the reader can see that with the aid of Dr. Manette’s loving daughter, she broke through the shroud of insanity to reach him on his calm, normal, and sane Dr. Manette attributes. She brought him back to life. He was virtually dead, trapped inside a cell, doing nothing but making shoes. Yet she brought back his memories, and with those memories, brought back his life. In respect to that act Dr. Manette raided Luice into the proper woman that can tell write from wrong and go even further in cleansing the lives of others, “…now. If your suit should prosper, if Lucie should love you, you shall tell me one your wedding day…”. Dr. Manette saw respectfully that Darnay was a proper man to wed his daughter and that with Darnay, she would grow in contact with more people, furthing her icon as an angel that resurrects all around. Regardless of the fact that Dr. Manette might have speculated Charles Darnay holding some secrets, in order to achieve whats best for her daughter he refused to hear those secrets, Charles’s real name, till he knew that they were officially married.
Sydney Carton was a man undoubtedly a victim of resurrection. He is known within the novel, initially, as a heavy alcoholic, he’s got nothing to live for and he really melancholic when it comes to aspects about his life. Yet love changed him, “O Miss Manette, when the little picture of a happy father’s face looks up in yours, when you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!”. When he met Lucie at the court he immediately fell in love. Thus it grew to a point where it did not matter anymore that Darnay “beat him” to marry her. He became close to their entire family and changed for her. He became a better shaped person all around, this all being a resurrection from a pit of despair towards a bright happy life with Lucie, Darnay and their family. Sydney’s change into a better man did not end there though, as his look a like characteristics with Charles Darnay again proved helpful in his aid to bringing back a man wrongfully placed in hell. Sydney gives his life for Charles, “I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die,” Charles, after going back to paris was put in jail and Sydney Carton knew what his rightful duties were. He cared so much about Lucie and her family that he knew in order to maintain their happiness he had to switch with Charles in the cell so Charles could go free. Thus he referred to the bible because he, just as a jesus figure, gave his life for another, Charles Darnay, for their well being over his in order to resurrect them to their rightfully happy lives.
A being is given one opportunity at life, one opportunity at their goal and one opportunity to succeed. Yet it is only with the aid of some gracious being that, in a state of lonely despair, that the being can once again be resurrected into another shot at their rightful purpose. Thus in the novel , A Tale Of Two Cities, written by the author, Charles Dickens, the idea is clearly brought out through the numerous event and the people included in his novel, beings such as Lucie Manette, Sydney Carton, and Dr Manette who all symbolize the pure essence of what it is to be truly recalled to life. Through his colorful language and unique forms of writing, Dickens makes resurrection a clear and mesmerizing idea that transports the reader to an entirely different era.
Death as a Liberation in A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is his first of two historical novels. Published in 1859, the book discusses the themes of resurrection, destiny, and concealment. Dickens’ novel both demonstrates his view of society, and contains historical facts surrounding the French Revolution. Throughout the novel, two viewpoints of the theme of death are evident: a negative as well as a positive perspective of death. In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens utilizes three widely different perspectives on death: the bloodthirsty craving for slaughter expressed by the revolutionary Madame Defarge, the physiological death resulting from Doctor Manette’s imprisonment, and the noble sacrifice of Sydney Carton, in order to demonstrate his view of death as a form of not only physical and emotional punishment, but also of liberation. Dickens negatively portrays death as a horrendous act through Madame Defarge. She declares that, “For other crimes as tyrants and oppressors, I have this race a long time on my register, doomed to destruction and extermination” (Dickens 264). Madame Defarge obsesses over the destruction of the aristocrats, believing that their cruelty demands death. Furthermore, Dickens describes her sadistic tendencies: “She derived a horrible enjoyment from the deadly nature of her wrath,” further proving her vicious nature (Dickens 265). Madame Defarge not only takes pleasure in watching the condemned die, but she also knits a secret registry of the individuals whom revolutionaries wish to execute. Stout writes, “Madame Defarge’s knitted registry of the condemned points out just how thin an operative characterization might be” (Stout 37). This registry further implies the certainty of their death; since Madame Defarge writes it down, it seems inevitable, demonstrating the authority of the revolutionaries, and the inexorable justice which they demand. Through Madame Defarge, Dickens portrays death pessimistically as an obligatory physical punishment.Dickens not only portrays death as a physical punishment through the character of Doctor Manette, but he also expresses his view of death as an emotional imprisonment. Doctor Manette’s eighteen year confinement constitutes a negative parallel to physical death. Dickens states, “The faintness of the voice was pitiable and dreadful. It was not the faintness of physical weakness, though confinement and hard fare no doubt has their part in it” (Dickens 29). Doctor Manette’s incarceration leaves him physically weak, as well as emotionally damaged. Though Dickens does not describe precisely how he suffered, his many relapses into the trembling sessions of his old self remain evidence of the depth of his misery. As Doctor Manette progresses from an emotionally troubled man to a free man in society, he underwent multiple relapses. During one of his reversions, Doctor Manette returns to his bench where he undergoes life as a shoemaker during his imprisonment. Dickens describes Doctor Manette’s compulsions: “He worked, and worked, and worked, in silence, and words fell on him as they would have fallen on an echoless wall…he sometimes furtively looked up…in that, there seemed as though he were trying to reconcile some doubts in his mind” (Dickens 150). Because he spent so many years isolated making shoes, when an event triggers Doctor Manette’s old self and he goes back to his old ways and shuts everyone else out. He says, “my old pain has given me a power that has brought us through the barrier, and gained us news of Charles there, and brought us here (Dickens 202). Doctor Manette’s life transforms from that of an incarcerated lunatic feverishly making shoes, to a man of strength and merit with freedom in society. His imprisonment no doubt affects him emotionally; however, he overcomes those damages and becomes a strong support to his daughter Lucie, during her husband Charles Darnay’s imprisonment. In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens disapprovingly portrays emotional death through the character of Doctor Manette because of his imprisonment. Dickens positively depicts Sydney Carton’s sacrificial death as a form of liberation. Carton initially appears as an alcoholic attorney who does not have a care in his own life, and who is apathetic toward every aspect of life. He comments on his own “misdirected life” saying that it is an absolute waste of existence, for he cares for nothing and no one, because “[he is] not worth such feeling” (Dickens 116, 117). However, in order to find a purpose, he sacrifices himself for another man, Charles Darnay. Carton’s transformation into a man of worth occurs not only because he sacrifices his body for Darnay’s, but also because he sacrifices his old flawed self. He no longer remains an alcoholic, but rather he becomes a man of worth. After this transformation, Carton wants to sacrifice himself for Darnay. Carton states that, “No life can possibly be saved, and many lives must inevitably be sacrificed” (Dickens 268). He understands that someone must die, either Darnay or himself. Carton uses this opportunity not only to ensure Lucie and Darnay’s happiness, but also to transform his identity, and to become a man of moral importance. In this decision, Carton uses death in a positive manner in order to liberate himself from his past ways, and become a man who possesses the desires to keep Darnay alive by sacrificing himself. Dickens portrays death negatively not only as a form of physical and emotional imprisonment, but also positively as a form of liberation. To Madame Defarge and the ferocious revolutionaries, they feel death through physical sentences. Doctor Manette and countless other prisoners feel death through emotional imprisonment. And lastly, for Sydney Carton, death provides liberation. Through these examples of death in A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens’ opinion regarding death becomes evident in that he views death in a negative manner with physical and emotional death, as well as in a positive light as a form of liberation. He believes that the slaughter that captivated the revolutionaries was atrocious and unnecessary, but he conversely portrays death as a means of freedom and hope.
Resurrection in A Tale of Two Cities
Resurrection is a term that is often used to describe the rebirth of someone, not only after death, but often as a new person in their own lifetime. In A Tale of Two Cities, a novel written by the famous English author Charles Dickens, the idea that love and devotion lead to resurrection is demonstrated from beginning to end. First and foremost, it is clear that love has an enormous impact on Dr. Manette, who is initially a broken and haunted man. His daughter Lucie devotes her time and love to him, making sure that he is restored back to the man that he once was. In addition to Dr. Manette, Jerry Cruncher finds himself resurrected from his life of grave-robbing because of his love and devotion to the members of the Manette household. Lastly, we see how Sydney Carton’s devoted love for Lucie leads him to his sacrifice, after which he is reborn in Lucie’s son Sydney Darnay. Each of these men are perfect examples of how love and devotion lead to resurrection.In 1757, Dr. Alexandre Manette is arrested and held as a political prisoner in the Bastille, left to rot, knowing himself only as “One Hundred and Five, North Tower” (46). He is put into solitary confinement where he is driven mad by lack of human contact, love and natural light. When he is finally released from prison, the doctor is a disturbed man who has turned to compulsive shoe-making to calm himself. When he and his daughter Lucie are re-united for the first time, her love for him has an instant physical impact on him, even though he is unaware that this young lady is actually his daughter. Doctor Manette is “Not yet trusting the tones of her voice, [as] she s[its] down on the bench beside him. He recoil[s], but she la[ys] her hand upon his arm. A strange thrill str[ikes] him when she d[oes] so, and visibly passe[s] over his frame” (48). After being imprisoned for so long, Dr. Manette is not used to physical or emotional contact. Within minutes, Lucie is showing her father that she loves him, and it is already sparking a change in his behavior. At first, he doesn’t know how to react to her sitting beside him, and he pulls away from her. Not willing to give up, Lucie makes slight physical contact with him which causes him to shiver involuntarily, demonstrating that Lucie’s love is inciting a change in him. Lucie continues to speak with her father, and eventually reveals that she is his daughter. She plans that they will return to England because she knows that staying in France, the country where the doctor was unjustly imprisoned, will do him no good. Lucie promises that she “will be true to [him] with all [her] duty and with all [her] faithful service” (50). Wanting the best for her father, Lucie is devoting her life to the resurrection of her father. She knows that this paranoid, damaged man is not who her father used to be, and is willing to help him return to being the respected, well-known doctor that he once was. Lucie makes a home for the two of them to live in, making sure that as “Simple as the furniture [is], it [is] set off by so many little adornments, of no value but for their taste and fancy, that its effect was delightful (98). The devotion of Lucie’s time has created a warm atmosphere for her and her father to live in. After spending so much time in an isolated cell coming home to a lovely little house, such as the one that Lucie has created, is good for the Doctor’s spirits. Lucie’s commitment to the improvement of her father’s health and spirit ultimately leads to his resurrection, which we see has come when “For the first time the Doctor felt, , that his suffering was strength and power” (280). Doctor Manette has regained his confidence and is once again recognized as respected doctor. He realizes that he may be able to repay Lucie for her unconditional love by saving her husband from the guillotine. He says that “as [his] beloved child was helpful in restoring [him] to [himself], he will be helpful now in restoring the dearest part of herself to her” (280). This magnificent revelation affirms that Doctor Manette has truly been “recalled to life” (14) by his daughter’s love and devotion. Mr. Jerry Cruncher is introduced as a messenger from Tellson’s bank, who receives the message “recalled to life” (14) from Jarvis Lorry. Almost immediately, Mr. Cruncher is recognized as one to be associated with the idea of resurrection. Mr. Cruncher is involved in the trade of illegally selling bodies to doctors. In this time, there is no legal way to sell cadavers to doctors or surgeons, and therefore he earns the title of being a resurrection man. As Cruncher, Carton, Barsad and Lorry are in Tellson’s bank, they discuss whether or not Roger Cly’s funeral was stage. While John Barsad, a spy, insists that he himself buried Mr. Cly, Jerry Cruncher admits to his past time of grave-digging when he accuses Barsad of “bur[ying] paving-stones and earth in that there coffin” (313). As a result of this, Mr. Lorry becomes rather upset that Jerry has “used the respectable and great house of Tellson’s as a blind” (316) for his criminal behavior. Being a devoted friend to Mr. Lorry, Jerry proposes that he will “go into the line of reg’lar diggin’, and make amends for what he would have un-dug” (317). By offering to quit grave digging and take up being a regular digger from now on, Jerry Cruncher shows that his devotion to his good friend has sparked his will to resurrect himself. His promise to stop illegally grave-digging is an indication that Mr. Cruncher is willing to make a change for the better. He wants a better life for his son, whom he wants to “keep his father’s place, and take care of his mother” (317) indicating that his devotion to his family is another reason for him to stop grave digging. A final example of how love and devotion lead to Mr. Cruncher’s resurrection happens when the Darnays have escaped from France, and he approaches Miss Pross. He asks her if she would do him a favor, and “take notice o’ two promises and wows wot it is my wishes fur to record in this here crisis” (373). The “first… [is] them poor things well out o’ this. Never no more will I do it, never no more!” (374). Here, Mr. Cruncher is promising to Miss Pross that he will no longer dig graves, although she doesn’t know what he is promising her that he won’t do. The second promise that he makes to her is “never no more will [he] interfere with Mrs. Cruncher’s flopping, never no more!” (374). Both of Mr. Cruncher’s promises indicate that his love and devotion to the members of the Manette household, and his love for his wife convince him to be a better man. Before, Cruncher would curse and scream at his wife for flopping; accusing her of praying against and their child. He now realizes that the way he reacted to his wife’s flopping was wrong, and promises to not treat her like that anymore. Mr. Cruncher’s primary association to resurrection by being titled “the resurrection man”, and his own resurrection in his lifetime, sparked by his love and devotion to his own family and the Manette family prove that love leads to resurrection.While resurrection often occurs in a metaphorical sense, such as the idea of Dr. Manette being recalled to life after being figuratively buried alive, or Jerry Cruncher being resurrected into a new man out of love and devotion for his family, resurrection can also happen in a physical sense. Charles Dickens was a strong believer in the resurrection of Christ, which is reflected into Sydney Carton’s self- sacrifice out of pure love for Lucie Manette. Before Lucie and Charles are ever engaged or married, Carton admits his love for Lucie directly to her. The conversation is a pitiful one, where Carton is feeling rather sorry for himself, and in turn he is making Lucie feel quite upset. He tells her that since he has known her, “[he] ha[s] been troubled by a remorse that [he] thought would never reproach [him] again” (156). He then proceeds to tell Lucie that he has had “ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but [he] wishes [her] to know that [she] inspired it.” (156-157). The fact that Lucie has made such an impact on Carton’s life by bringing up past feelings of remorse, and sparking the idea that he wants to start all over indicates just how much Carton loves Lucie. She really gets into his brain, and makes him think. The idea of starting new and having a dream that ends in nothing, but that is inspired by Lucie foreshadows his sacrifice for her. When he sacrifices himself, he is inspired by his love for Lucie and his desire to make her happy. This sacrifice leads to his resurrection in Lucie’s son, Sydney Darnay. In this conversation, Carton also says that “For [her], and any dear to [her], [he] would do anything” (158). This is another indication of Carton’s love for Lucie. He truly loves and cares about her, and is willing to do whatever is necessary to make her happy. Ultimately, that is to take her husband’s place at the guillotine and die in his place. He does this because he loves Lucie enough that he wants her to be happy with her family, even if he is not a part of it. Sydney’s sacrifice and rebirth in the Darnay’s son conclusively does make him a part of their family, only in a resurrected form. Finally, we see that Carton’s love and devotion to Lucie’s happiness leads to his resurrection in his final description before he dies. As he looks towards Lucie and her family, Carton says “I see that child who lay upon her bosom and who bore my name, a man winning his way up in that path of life which once was mine” (386). Here, Carton is envisioning himself in Lucie’s son. Lucie names her son after Carton, making his image of being resurrected in the young boy even more legitimate. Sydney is making the ultimate sacrifice for Lucie, all to make her happy. He truly loves her, and is sacrificing his life to allow her to keep her family together, proving that his and devotion to her will lead to his resurrection. Throughout the entirety of A Tale of Two Cities, it is evident that resurrection is a main idea in the novel. Dickens, being extremely Christian, believed that righteous behavior ultimately leads to one’s resurrection. This was demonstrated in Doctor Manette, when we see that he has been recalled to life by his daughter’s undying love and devotion to the improvement of his health. We see it again in Jerry Cruncher, as we see him evolve from being a grave-robbing ‘resurrection man’ to being a man resurrected by his devotion to the people close to him. Finally, we see the idea that love and devotion lead to resurrection in Sydney Carton’s heart breaking self-sacrifice. He loves Lucie so much that he is willing to devote his entire life to making her happy. He knows that Charles Darnay means the world to her, and that she is hysterical about his death sentence, and therefore he is willing to take his place so that she can be happy again with her husband. Through each of these examples, it is proven that true love and devotion to someone or something leads to resurrection, whether metaphorically or physically.
Recalled to Life
In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens asserts his belief in the constant possibility of resurrection and transformation, both on a personal level and on a societal level. The narrative suggests that Sydney Carton’s death secures a new, peaceful life for Lucie Manette, Charles Darnay, and even Carton himself. By delivering himself to the guillotine, Carton ascends to the plane of heroism, becoming a Christ-like figure whose death serves to save the lives of others. His own life thus gains meaning and value. Moreover, the final pages of the novel suggest that, like Christ, Carton will be resurrected-Carton is reborn in the hearts of those he has died to save. Similarly, the text implies that the death of the old regime in France prepares the way for the beautiful and renewed Paris that Carton supposedly envisions from the guillotine. Although Carton spends most of the novel in a life of indolence and apathy, the supreme selflessness of his final act speaks to a human capacity for change. Although the novel dedicates much time to describing the atrocities committed both by the aristocracy and by the outraged peasants, it ultimately expresses the belief that this violence will give way to a new and better society. Dickens elaborates his theme with the character of Doctor Manette. Early on in the novel, Lorry holds an imaginary conversation with him in which he says that Manette has been “recalled to life.” As this statement implies, the doctor’s eighteen-year imprisonment has constituted a death of sorts. Lucie’s love enables Manette’s spiritual renewal, and her maternal cradling of him on her breast reinforces this notion of rebirth. Doctor Manette’s own death and resurrection could be a symbol for France’s own death in terms of humanitarianism. And just as Lucie plans to nurse her father back to health and sanity with love and compassion, Dickens suggests that France can construct a new and more compassionate society through dedication and valor- not the haphazard violence of the revolutionaries. Connected to the theme of the possibility of resurrection is the notion that sacrifice is necessary to achieve happiness. Dickens examines this second theme, again, on both a national and personal level. For example, the revolutionaries prove that a new, egalitarian French republic can come about only with a heavy and terrible cost-personal loves and loyalties must be sacrificed for the good of the nation. Also, when Darnay is arrested for the second time the guard who seizes him reminds Manette of the primacy of state interests over personal loyalties; that “if the Republic demands certain sacrifices from you, without doubt you as a good patriot will be happy to make them. The Republic goes before all. The People is supreme”. Moreover, Madame Defarge gives her husband a similar lesson when she chastises him for his devotion to Manette-an emotion that, in her opinion, only clouds his obligation to the revolutionary cause. Most important, Carton’s transformation into a man of moral worth depends upon his sacrificing of his former self. In choosing to die for his friends, Carton not only enables their happiness but also ensures his own spiritual rebirth. Almost all of the characters in A Tale of Two Cities fight against some form of imprisonment. For Darnay and Manette, this struggle is quite literal. Both serve significant sentences in French jails. Still, as the novel demonstrates, the memories of what one has experienced prove no less confining than the walls of prison. Manette, for example, finds himself trapped, at times, by the recollection of life in the Bastille and can do nothing but revert, trembling, to his pathetic shoemaking compulsion. Similarly, Carton spends much of the novel struggling against the confines of his own personality, dissatisfied with a life that he regards as worthless. The fact that he can only find meaning in his life by sacrificing it for others is another symbol for the good of the whole over the good of one. Sydney Carton’s love for Lucie caused a resurrection of “whispers of old voices impelling me upward, that I thought were silent forever.” He seemed to have died in spirit when he “followed his father to the grave”. He is resurrected from a useless existence to a useful and purposeful life when he sets out to save Darnay. As he walks the streets of Paris, he repeats the words “I am the resurrection and the life…”. He dies but lives on in the memories of those for whom he gives his life. He also lives on in the life of Lucie’s son, who is named for him and “resurrects” his career, winning his way up so well that Carton’s name “becomes illustrious by the light of his.” Carton’s story is kept alive for generations when Lucie’s son tells his own son. On a literal level, Madame Defarge’s knitting constitutes a whole network of symbols. Into her needlework she stitches a registry of all those condemned to die in the name of a new republic. But on a metaphoric level, the knitting constitutes a symbol in itself, representing the stealthy, cold-blooded vengefulness of the revolutionaries. As Madame Defarge sits quietly knitting, she appears harmless and quaint. In fact, however, she sentences her victims to death. Similarly, the French peasants may appear simple and humble figures, but they eventually rise up to massacre their oppressors. Dickens’s knitting imagery also emphasizes an association between vengefulness and fate, which, in Greek mythology, is traditionally linked to knitting or weaving. The Fates, three sisters who control human life, busy themselves with the tasks of weavers or seamstresses: one sister spins the web of life, another measures it, and the last cuts it. Similarly Philomela wove her violent story into a tapestry to warn her sister and implicate her husband. Madame Defarge’s knitting thus becomes a symbol of her victims’ fate-death at the hands of a wrathful peasantry. The Marquis EvrÃ©monde is less a believable character than an archetype of an evil and corrupt social order. He is not only overly self-indulgent, as evidenced by the train of attendants who help him to drink his chocolate; he is also completely indifferent to the lives of the peasants whom he exploits, as evidenced by his lack of sympathy for the father of the child whom his carriage tramples to death. As such, the Marquis stands as a symbol of the ruthless aristocratic cruelty that the French Revolution seeks to overcome. In order to convey the significance of revolution and resurrection in the novel, Dickens adeptly portrays the horrors of mob violence throughout the novel, leaving the reader with images of waves of people crashing through the battered gates of the Bastille; of Foulon with his mouth stuffed full of grass as he is beaten to death and beheaded; of the hundreds of unruly citizens singing and dancing wildly around Lucie Manette as she stands alone outside her husband’s prison. However, Dickens balances these visions of revolutionary terror with images of rebirth and hope, such as Lucie’s golden hair mingling with her father’s prematurely white hair in the moments after he first remembers her mother and Carton’s prophetic vision of the future as he goes to the guillotine. Although A Tale of Two Cities lacks the wealth of memorable characters found in other Dickens novels, the unforgettable images Dickens creates compensate for this deficiency.
Mirror Images: Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay
In his masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens strengthens his theme of paired opposites by juxtaposing the characters of Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay. Initially, it seems as though Carton and Darnay are completely bipolar. While Darnay exhibits nothing but poise and manners, Carton is crude and unmotivated. However, as the novel progresses, Sydney Carton proves to be a far more complex character than he once seemed. He begins to reveal a multifaceted personality—one of underlying nobility, of selflessness, and of course, unconditional love for Lucie Manette. Eventually, Sydney transforms into the calm, knowing man that Darnay once was, and Darnay degenerates into a useless, stupefied character. The similarities and differences between Darnay and Carton, including the absolute reversal of their roles, can be explained through a chronological analysis of A Tale of Two Cities.When Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay first meet in the beginning of Book Two, they are complete opposites. At Darnay’s trial, Sydney has the look of an inept, disheveled attorney, staring indifferently at the ceiling to pass the time (Dickens 75). However, it is not long before he shows his true intelligence, after he shrewdly saves the day by pointing out Darnay’s physical resemblance to his own (81). Immediately after the trial, Sydney relapses into his previous state of idleness, leaving one to doubt if he possesses any likeness to the dignified, poised Darnay outside of physical similarities! He is particularly rude to Darnay while the two are dining, and Darnay even comments, “I begin to think we are not much alike in any particular, you and I” (90). Throughout the night, Carton is “not quite sober” (89), and he makes a fool out of himself while Darnay maintains a calm disposition. Although Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay are mirror images of each other, Darnay has shown that he is, in fact, a perfect reflection of what Carton might have been. Carton knows this, and he bitterly compares his wasted life to Darnay’s perfect world: “A good reason for taking to a man, that he shows you what you have fallen away from, and what you might have been! …You hate the fellow” (91). Now that he has strayed from what he could have been, Carton knows that he can never win Lucie. For this, Darnay is a constant source of frustration to Carton, reminding him of the life he has lost.In the following chapters of Book Two, several new facets of Sydney Carton’s character are revealed, and he begins to resemble Charles Darnay slightly more. Carton reveals that he has been a “jackal” for his entire life, living and working for people like Stryver. “Even then [at old Shrewsbury School], I did exercises for other boys, and seldom did my own” (95). Although Carton is perfectly capable and intelligent, he no longer has the confidence to pursue a success of his own. He had become “incapable of his own help and his own happiness, sensible of the blight on him, and resigned to let it eat him away” (97). Sydney knows that he is in no position to court Lucie, but nevertheless he decides to express his adoration for her. He is similar to Charles Darnay in that they share an honest, absolute love for Lucie Manette. Both Carton and Darnay are sincere, compassionate fellows (unlike Stryver, who only wishes to have Lucie as a “trophy wife”). However, Sydney is different from Darnay in that he does not wish for Lucie’s hand in marriage. Instead, his only wish is to make her happy, whatever the sacrifice, even if he should get nothing in return! “For you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything…think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!” (156). Here, Sydney reveals himself as a fellow of great delicacy—more so than Darnay. However, that is not to say that Darnay does not possess his own delicacy2E He nobly acknowledges how his family had wronged the poor, and thus renounces his aristocratic lifestyle. Furthermore, he reveals his respectful nature when he tells Doctor Manette of his love for Lucie rather than telling Lucie directly. “Doctor Manette… I look only to… being faithful to you to the death. Not to divide with Lucie her privilege as your child… but to come of aid of it, and bind her closer to you” (164). Doctor Manette approves of Darnay’s proposal, and Darnay marries Lucie shortly after.After the wedding of Charles Darnay and Lucie Manette, an interesting shift occurs between Darnay and Carton. When Darnay and Lucie return from their honeymoon, Carton is the first person to pay the newlyweds a visit. In a very earnest and compassionate apology, Carton implores Darnay to “forget about” past mishaps, in hopes that they “might be friends” (236). During this conversation, Sydney constantly criticizes himself: “At any rate you know me as a dissolute dog who has never done any good, and never will” (237). To this, Darnay uncaringly replies, “I don’t know that you ‘never will'” (237). It is clear that Sydney Carton is willing to do anything to be friends with Lucie and Darnay. However, Darnay indicates the opposing side of the “mirror” through his dismissive attitude toward Sydney. Immediately after Sydney leaves, Darnay refers to the poor fellow as “a problem of carelessness and recklessness” (237)! When one compares Darnay’s flippant stance to Carton’s sincere intentions, one cannot help but notice that the tables have been turned. Dickens has flipped the “mirror images” of Darnay and Carton—for once, Carton is completely serious and polite, while Darnay is uncaring.Darnay and Carton’s roles change progressively throughout Book Three; by the end, their roles have reversed completely. After Charles Darnay receives a pitiful letter from his old servant, Gabelle, he immediately resolves to return to Paris in order to save his loyal friend. His noble, selfless response in the face of great danger is admirable; however, he is nave in thinking that he can reason with the senseless mobs. Darnay quickly proves to be inept in accomplishing much of anything, and requires the aid/influence of Doctor Manette after he has been thrown in jail. While Doctor Manette is powerful enough to sway a fickle mob at Darnay’s tribunal, he is unable to save Darnay a second time, from the clutches of La Force. In turn, Darnay becomes a weak and useless character, incapable of accomplishing what he came to do. Later, when Sydney Carton joins the Manette/Darnay family in France, he proves to be far more successful. Carton and Darnay have very similar reasons for coming to France—they both wish to aid the people they care for. (Carton comes to help Lucie, and Darnay initially comes to save Gabelle). However, the “mirrors” have flipped entirely. Carton is no longer a man without a purpose; he has resolved to give his life for the woman he loves. As he carries forth his plan, Carton reveals his strong sense of calmness, confidence, and level-headedness. He uses his expertise to defeat Barsad’s “deck of cards” (thus gaining entrance into Darnay’s cell) and visits the apothecary to purchase necessary materials, all before he even heads to the trial. Finally, before he faces the guillotine, he bids farewell to Lucie for the last time, reaffirming his oath to make any sacrifice for her when he says, “A life you love” (365). When Carton finally executes his plan, he is the poised, calm man that Darnay once was. Darnay, after spending over one year in a prison cell, has sunk into a useless stupor. The reversal is complete, and Sidney Carton faces the guillotine nobly, knowing that he, too, will be resurrected (Busch xv).Before he chose a title for A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens considered a great many alternate titles, including “Buried Alive,” and “Memory Carton” (Woodcock 14). However, the final title is the only one that adequately describes the true spirit and theme of the book. The phrase “a tale of two cities” contains endless connotations—most prominently, the paired opposites known as Sidney Carton and Charles Darnay. These two characters are very interesting reflections of each other; they are doubles, strikingly similar in appearance, tied together by fate (Woodcock 24). Yet, they are two completely separate entities. Next to Lucie, Darnay is the most unconvincing character in the entire novel. He is impossibly polite, optimistic, and kind, whereas Carton is a bitter and realistic representation of the “dark side of the mirror.” Ultimately, Sydney Carton is the one who saves the day, thereby completing the task that Charles Darnay had tried to accomplish. Although Darnay is the perfect gentleman, the “less perfect” Sydney Carton ironically proves to be the hero.Works Cited ListBusch, Frederick. Introduction. A Tale of Two Cities. By Charles Dickens. New York: Penguin, c. 1997. ix-xv.Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. With Introduction by Frederick Busch. New York: Penguin, c. 1997.Johnson, Edgar. Afterword. A Tale of Two Cities. By Charles Dickens. New York: New American Library. 1962. 369-376.Woodcock, George. Introduction. A Tale of Two Cities. By Charles Dickens. New York: Penguin, c. 1970. 9-25.