Identity In Charles Dickens's A Tale Of Two Cities

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Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities is a novel of exploration: it explores what it means to be oppressed or to oppress and the importance of virtue in the face of wickedness and iniquity. Dickens also explores the concept of identity and its ability to be transformed. In the novel, these transformations of identity can come from a place of light, or love, or the darkness of hatred. In the case of Dr. Alexandre Manette and Sydney Carton, the reconstruction of their identities results from the love they feel towards Lucie and, in turn, the compassion she feels towards them. For the poor and downtrodden people of France, their individuality is deconstructed and reconstructed into a single identity that reflects the darkness and anger within…show more content…
From his introduction, Carton is presented as an alcoholic and a tortured soul: in a conversation with Stryver, he dejectedly admits that he “had no chance for [his] life but in rust and repose” (Dickens, p. 92). Days before, inebriated and bitter, he claims to Charles Darnay that he “cared for no man on earth” and feels that “no man on earth cares for him” (Dickens, p. 86). His sour perspective on life begins to sweeten, however, as he is introduced to the kind and beautiful Lucie. His quickly-growing love for and devotion towards her, although unrequited, gives Carton an entirely new purpose in life. Readers of the novel begin to see Carton’s innermost transformation shortly after the marriage between Lucie and Darnay transpires; as the couple returns home from their wedding, Carton is the first to appear at their home to congratulate them. Darnay notices a new “rugged air of fidelity about him,” even though Carton’s looks and habits appear to be the same as they have always been (Dickens, p.…show more content…
For Dr. Alexandre Manette and Sydney Carton, the transformation of their individual identities was caused by love. For the lower class of France, the creation of their group identity as revolutionaries was a result of years of hardship and the subsequent anger they experienced. Although distinctly different, these three cases share an unignorable similarity: each transformation did not occur in a vacuum. Some entity or guiding force, whether it be from a place of light or darkness, acted as a catalyst to these characters’ fundamental changes. In the case of A Tale of Two Cities, the results of these changes also vary: one experiences a restoration of his former self, one sacrifices his life for the woman he loves, and the other results in the political and social upheaval of
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