A Tale of Two Cities: Sacrificial Way of Characters

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Words: 1651 |

Pages: 4|

9 min read

Published: Apr 29, 2022

Words: 1651|Pages: 4|9 min read

Published: Apr 29, 2022

In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickins illustrates the theme of resurrection in many ways, this theme is greatest showcased through the image of Christ seen in Sydney Carton as he goes through a radical transformation and demonstrates the greatest form of love. The main Value that Dickins emphasizes is the value of one laying down their life for another, just as Christ has done for us. A Tale of Two Cities is packed full of drama, violence, and many epic characters, but the theme of the book is actually something very sacred. The theme is resurrection. The theme is placed throughout the book.

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According to Claire Tomalin, author of Charles Dickens: A Life, Charles Dickens wrote the novel, A Tale of Two Cities in 1859. He married his wife, Catherine (Hogarth) Dickens in the year 1836. Dickens was a native of North London and lived in North London throughout his life. He not only got married in the year 1836, but that’s also the year he began to get rich. Even though London was a powerhouse and a very wealthy city in the late 1850s, Tomalin goes on to describe how Dickens came from humble beginnings and had a unique relationship with money. His father was imprisoned for debt while he was really young. Tomalin tells of how poverty robbed Dickens of an education and forced him to work in a blacking factory at the young age of twelve years old, however as an adult, Dickens was never poor again. Perhaps the most disheartening part of Dicken`s life that Tomalin tells about is his broken marriage and secretive love affair with Ellen “Nelly” Ternan which he had after having ten children with his wife. He shamefully leaves her for a very young woman. Nevertheless, Dickens is a literary hero and has contributed many great works to the world. Some of his most popular novels include A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and so many other great works. He will forever be known as one of the greatest novelists.

In his novel, A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens writes about a large variety of characters, jumping back and forth between two families, one French and one English in Paris and in London. The novel takes place during the French Revolution and relates the events in the lives of these families in an interesting metanarrative. In addition to the profound character plot, Dickens also winds in a wide variety of important themes that are present throughout the novel such as vengeance, bravery and sacrifice, and resurrection. The most important theme when talking about the image of Christ is that of resurrection. The most dramatic character Dickens tells of in the novel is Sydney Carton who best portrays the theme. There are many characters who could be considered the main characters, but regarding the theme of resurrection, the characters Charles Darney and Sydney Carton are the most involved.

Sydney Carton images Christ as he goes through a radical transformation. At the beginning of the novel, Carton sees his life as worthless because he hasn’t accomplished anything noteworthy in his life. Carton even agonizes over his issues saying that he doesn’t care for anyone and nobody cares for him. He is a sluggish, unlovable drunk at the beginning of the novel, but Carton goes through an intensive moral transformation throughout the entire novel.

Carton has major changes from the beginning to the middle to the end of the novel -everyone notices how much he looks like Darney at the first trial which is the main reason why Darney is acquitted at all. This section is a major foreshadowing to the end of the book where Carton is able to switch places with Darney at the Guitteon because they look so similar. Darney escaped death twice, the first at the beginning of the book, Carton didn’t do anything specifically, he just was. It was his physical appearance that saved him. By the end of the book, it’s his sacrificial heart that saves him.

He says that if anyone could change him, it would be Lucie. He secretly pledges his love for her but promises to never bring it up again because he knows it will never happen. There is a major character change in Carton as he transforms from agonizing in conversation with the guys to confessing his care and love for her. His love confessed for Lucie in comparison to another man's love for her, Stryver is so much more genuine and raw.

The first title in book one of the novel is “Recalled to life” is a major foreshadowing of the coming theme. The novel takes place during the gruesome French Revolution, but Dickens tells a story that proves that no one or no place is ever too far gone for redemption to break through.

The most significant example of redemption is referenced to the character Sydney Carton. As the story begins, Sydney Carton is an extremely lazy drunk who does not have his life together, but he is transformed into a hero who like Christ, sacrifices his own life in order to save his friend.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair....”. “Every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other”. How separate and alone people and places are. Dickens is actually emphasizing how everything is closer and connected than people realize. Paris and London are more alike than they are different.

A tale of two cities, a city of God and a city of man.

Darney = London is a city of man and Carter = Paris is a city of god.

Darney is a dynamic character. He could have been an intelligent lawyer, but he waste his life away by drinking, he falls in love with Lucie but fails to win her heart. He redeems his reputation by sacrificing himself at the guillotine. His sacrifice saves Darnay and his family. Carter finally did something good for someone other than himself. He was brought back to life by doing something with a legitimate meaning

Dickens uses scripture in the novel. The scripture that he uses is from the story of Lazurus. “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”.

The final main theme in the book is the idea of resurrection. Book one of A Tale is entitled 'Recalled to Life'. This shows resurrection being a major theme. An example of this is Dr. Manette's resurrection after being in prison for nearly eighteen years of mental torment, and when he got out, he was asked the question, 'you know that you are recalled to life'. We know that he has been, as he no longer refers to himself as '105 North Tower'. He is spiritually resurrected with his daughter when they first meet. Lucie forms a relationship with him, which gives Dr. Manette a sense of pride.

After being imprisoned in the Bastille Prison for 18 years he has become withdrawn and deranged, all he can do is make shoes. He is nursed back to life by his daughter. 'The Doctor was in his best condition and looked especially young. The resemblance between him and Lucie was very strong at such times, and as they sat side by side, she leaning on his shoulder, and he resting his arm on the back of her chair, it was very agreeable to trace the likeness'.

Throughout the novel, Dr. Manette has gone through several mentally tragic episodes. Every time he goes into a relapse, Lucie is the only one that can help him regain normalcy. Darnay also took a part in this theme of resurrection. Charles Darnay's soul had been spiritually resurrected and saved from being killed. Due to being an Evrémonde and for portraying his own family, he was tried and sentenced to death by the guillotine. Dr. Manette tried to save Darnay many times, though Barsad would always seem to find a way to get him back to prison and succeeded in sentencing him to death. When the final day of Darnay's life came, it turned out a happy one for him, 'The door was quickly opened and closed, and there stood before him face to face, quiet, intent, upon him, with the light of a smile on his features, and a cautionary finger on his lip, Sydney Carton'. Sydney Carton, who resembled Darnay very closely, exchanged places with him. Feigning illness, Darnay was thus snuck out of prison and physically resurrected.

Another illustration of Carton being a Christ figure is that after death, he comes “back to life” through Charles and Lucie’s baby being named after him. Charles Darnay is the protagonist of the novel. He is born into an aristocratic family with tight ties carving the Evremonde name, but he rejects his familial ties. He is arrested by the french for emigrating. He won the love of Lucie Manette. He is an honorable character.

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One of the most monumental moments in Carton's life is him saying John 11:25. Dickins mentions that his father recited this same passage before his death. This is also taken out of a section of the Bible that has to do with the death of Lazarus, so this passage being placed where it puts the idea of death into the reader's mind. He says all of this and then one day he drugs Darnay. He shows the greatest example of love in the most sacrificial way as he gives up his own life.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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A Tale Of Two Cities: Sacrificial Way Of Characters. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
“A Tale Of Two Cities: Sacrificial Way Of Characters.” GradesFixer, 29 Apr. 2022,
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