Tale of Two Cities Essay

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Certain themes present themselves throughout Charles Dickens’ famous novel, A Tale of Two Cities. These themes of love, good versus evil, and the class of upper and lower classes permeate the entire book. However, one such theme stands out. The theme of redemption also manifests itself in every part of the novel. Redemption and resurrection attract the reader’s attention because of the obvious biblical parallels. Dickens writes these themes into A Tale of Two Cities for this exact reason. In exploring right vs. wrong, he gave his audience a cause worth dying for, and characters who would. These characters, while flawed, still represent a very biblical worldview. Sydney Carton, specifically, dies to redeem himself, to further his cause, and to give their life for the one he loves. However, Dickens alludes to the theme of redemption throughout his novel. Using various literary devices like foreshadowing, and allusion, and through the character of Sydney Carton, he drives home his point.

One of the best examples of foreshadowing comes in the form of the echoing footsteps. These footsteps that echo outside the Manette's home symbolize, in Lucie's fancy, the numerous people that she believes will enter into her family's life. “‘I have imagined them the footsteps of the people who are to come into my life, and my father’s’” (107). She believes that they are dangerous to her life. Carton notices her fear, and immediately reassures her: “‘I take them into mine! ... I ask no questions and make no stipulations’” (107). This foreshadows his eventual willingness to sacrifice himself to the Paris mob in Darnay's place. He presents himself as a chivalrous man, willing to do anything to protect Lucie Manette. His determination and stubbornne...

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...ess through his death. Indeed, his whole life specifically led up to his death, so that his sacrifice would have the maximum impact. Dickens wrote Carton as a Christ-figure, not parallel in his perfection, but in his imperfection leading to the ultimate sacrifice. Christ redeemed humanity through his death, however, Carton redeemed himself.

In Sydney Carton’s sacrifice, the theme of redemption that built up throughout the book culminates. Dickens wrote Carton’s character with one end in mind. Thus, Carton’s one success in life is his sacrificial death. Throughout his novel, Dickens entwines foreshadowing and allusion to ultimately point to Carton. He is the culmination of the theme of resurrection. Using the biblical model, Dickens parallels the human Carton with Jesus, thus constructing not only an incredible allusion, but also a marvelous feat of storytelling.
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