Self Fulfilling Beliefs In A Tale Of Two Cities

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Self-fulfilling prophecies are born through the belief that they are true. They influence their victims into behavior that eventually fulfills the prophecy. It results in a cycle where the victims hold certain beliefs about themselves, influencing their actions that impact what others believe and do. In order to break the cycle, the sufferer’s self beliefs, their actions, others’ beliefs, or others’ actions must change. Sydney Carton in Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities, finds himself trapped within this cycle. Believing his life to be a waste, he does nothing to help himself, causing other characters to see him as worthless, which reinforces his beliefs. However, through his love for Lucie Manette, his actions show that he is both right and wrong because his life, though squandered, comes to end with a selfless sacrifice.
Hiding behind false paradigms, Carton’s biggest obstacle is himself. Often, he dismisses his intelligence and diligence. In a conversation with his friend C.J. Stryver, he argues that he was born to be second best, telling Stryver, “You were always in the front rank, and I was always behind” (648). By having this mindset, he becomes convinced that there’s nothing he can do to change. He never works with aspirations of becoming the best, cementing his position as the runner up. In a similar fashion, Carton asserts, “I am a disappointed drudge, sir. I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me” (645), coming to believe that no one in the world likes him. He reveals what little regards he has for himself upon exchanging these words with Charles Darnay after Darnay’s first acquitted trial. Under the assumption that no one cares for him, he exhibits himself as a rude and thoughtless indivi...

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...Carton acknowledges that his life has worth. Furthermore, he says of his sacrifice that “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” (848). Unlike the Sydney Carton stuck in a self-fulfilling prophecy, he is visibly satisfied with what he is doing. His mindset has changed to that of a man who is finally at peace with himself. Carton’s sacrifice essentially becomes a reflection of the breaking of the cycle. For the first time in his life, he is happy with himself.
Throughout his lifetime, Sydney Carton squandered numerous opportunities, dismissing his intelligence and diligence behind the idea that his life was a waste. Convinced under the false pretense that his life has been a lost cause, he does nothing to help himself. However, through his love for Lucie, Carton discovers that
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