Essay, Research Paper: Tale Of Two Cities By Charles Dickens

Literature: Charles Dickens

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A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens contained many themes that are practiced
throughout the book. Two of these themes are altruism and resurrection. The
characters Madame Defarge and Sydney Carton are used to exemplify these themes.
Sydney Carton demonstrated an altruistic nature while Madame Defarge had a
self-seeking disposition. Carton displayed his charitable nature when Lucie was
the object of Mr. Stryver’s affection. When Mr. Stryver asked for Sydney’s
approval, he said that he supported him in his pursuit even though Carton held a
secret passion for Lucie. Before Darnay’s marriage to Lucie, Sydney told Lucie
of his hopeless devotion to her and described himself “to be undeserving.”
He also volunteered to “embrace any sacrifice” for her and those dear to
her. Carton’s altruism culminated when Darnay became incarcerated in La Force.
When Mr. Lorry told Sydney of Darnay’s predicament, he traveled to France to
offer his help. Carton fulfilled his offer to Lucie when he drugged Darnay and
took his place in the impending death sentence. Madame Defarge, “imbued from
her childhood with a brooding sense of wrong,” had no traditional morals in
her and is the opposite of Carton. In Dickens’ vivid description of her, she
is described as a “tigress” and “absolutely without pity.” Her hatred of
the Evremondes had grown so profusely that she intended to execute Lucie and her
daughter in addition to Darnay who had committed no crime but “was to die for
the sins of his forefathers.” In addition, she ignored her husband’s
profound pleas to spare Dr. Manette and exclaimed to herself, “No, I cannot
spare him!” Resurrection embodies both Sydney Carton and Therese Defarge.
Sydney is resurrected from a desolate life of working under Stryver to
sacrificing his life for the sake of Darnay. In the beginning of the story,
Sydney is described as a lowly “jackal” in service to Stryver. He drinks
excessively with Stryver and is careless in regard to clothing and speech. After
Darnay’s trial, Carton is described as “so careless as to be almost
insolent.” The trial is followed by a drink with Charles. After Carton has
traveled to France, Carton has abstained from drinking and has liberated himself
from Stryver. Before his death, he says, “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,” which exemplifies
his own belief in his resurrection. At his death his face was described as
“sublime and prophetic.” Madame Defarge is resurrected along with the
millions of other peasants in the revolution. They restore the power of the
people and Madame Defarge is prominent among them. She is now able to take her
revenge on the Evremondes. She accomplishes this by her testimony that sends
Darnay to jail and attempting to send Lucie and her daughter to jail. Sydney was
at first thought to be a careless wretch but proved that he was a kind caring
person. His last words sum up his character, “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 to than
I have ever known.” Madame Defarge had been imbued so replete with hatred for
the aristocrat class and especially the Evremondes that it was not in her nature
to have altruistic characteristics. Similarly, her resurrection was also a
resurrection of hatred.
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