Resurrection and Rebirth in A Tale of Two Cities

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A Tale of Two Cities

By Charles Dickens

The idea of resurrection and rebirth pervades in this novel. How does Dickens use this theme? Do these themes of resurrection and self sacrifice and the setting of the French Revolution have anything to do with one another? Why is this the time and place of the novel?

Brief Historical Background

The novel, A Tale of Two Cities, takes place during the onset of the French Revolution, which shook the Western world with its violence and new ideas on freedom and the aristocracy. It was a period of major political and social change in the political history of both France and Europe during which the French governmental structure took on the Enlightenment’s ideals democracy, citizenship, and inalienable rights. These changes were accompanied by violent turmoil, which horrified most of the world, including mass executions and repression during what we now know as the Reign of Terror, and warfare involving every other major European power, particularly England.

The French Revolution is considered to have begun around 1789 and ended around 1799. However, the repercussions of such a change carried over in France for the next 75 years. During that time, France experienced much political turmoil, experiencing different forms of governance including a republic, a dictatorship, a constitutional monarchy and an empire.

Brief Author Background and Development of Novel

Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth, England in 1812. He grew up in a poor family as one of eight children. His troublesome childhood proved to be the inspiration behind such stories as Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and David Copperfield. Dickens’s writing is characterized by social criticism of the times and is often sympathe...

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...ich, although on a superficial level, is nothing like the plight of France. However, with a deeper reading, the two are remarkably similar. Carton was a man plagued by feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy. His feelings were momentarily allayed when he fell in love with Lucie Manette, as she made him feel that his life wasn’t entirely worthless. This was the beginning of Carton’s personal journey to make his life something he valued. His previously stoic and pessimistic character was showed in a more human light, and his character continued to make progress in revealing the true nature of Carton. His journey ended with his sacrifice of his life for the lives of the couple, and it affirmed his worth has a person, while reassuring him of the value of his life and deed, comparing what he did greater and more superior than anything that he has ever known in his life.
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