A Tale of Two Cities: Theme
Bloodshed, violence, and revenge: the daily occurrences in the French Revolution of the eighteenth century. One would not dream of any revival. However, in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Dickens clearly illustrates of the resurrection that takes place before, during, and after the French Revolution.
Early on in the novel, many years before war, Dr. Alexandre Manette is spiritually revived by his daughter, Lucie Manette. Dr. Manette’s 18-year imprisonment represents a sort of temporary death considering his being shut out from the rest of the world. He falls into a lapse of shoemaking: his only priority up until he reunites with his daughter. Lucie’s love conquers many in this book and it is obvious as soon as Dickens symbolizes her as the “Golden Thread”. Her ...view middle of the document...
With his new mind-set, Sydney Carton fulfills his promise to Lucie when the time comes. Lucie’s husband, Darnay, falls into great danger once he is captured in Paris by revolutionaries. He is an aristocrat but has done nothing wrong. Still, the public wishes that he pay for the sins of his father and uncle through strict execution. Knowing how much Darnay means to Lucie, Carton delivers himself to the guillotine by switching places with Darnay. It is a success due to Carton’s quick thinking as well as the striking resemblance between the two men. Darnay is brought salvation through Carton’s sacrifice. Carton is the savior to not only Darnay, but Darnay’s family as well. His death secures a peaceful life for Dr. Manette, Lucie, and Little Lucie (Lucie and Darnay’s daughter). Like Christ, Carton will be resurrected for saving the lives of others. By losing his own life, his life gains purpose and value. Carton envisions life after the French Revolution; “I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long years to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out” (315). France is resurrected also, making way for the rebirth of Paris.
The French Revolution was not a treat to all, but much revival and resurrection spanned its time period. Prewar, Dr. Manette is recalled to life by Lucie. During war, Lucie revives Carton and then Carton is given the chance to redeem himself and save Darnay. Postwar, Paris evolves into a marvelous city. All the ugly people and all the ugly streets are turned into beautiful ones.
Dickens, Charles, Hablot Knight Browne, and Frederick Barnard. A Tale of Two Cities. New York: Dodd, Mead &, 1942. Print.