The Price Of Freedom In Charles Dickens's A Tale Of Two Cities

836 Words4 Pages
Dax Blinn

Mrs. Ballard

English 9H

9 April 2014

The Price of Freedom

Prior to the liberating events of the French Revolution, the French nobility were a dreaded source of grief and mourning, striking wrath upon whomever they pleased with "lettres de cachet" and the imprisonment of their enemies within the Bastille. Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities explores the lives of characters in various states of physical as well as mental incarceration who undertake journeys with the potential to "recall" them to life. The plight of
Dr. Alexandre Manette and his inability to ever truly escape the ramifications of his physical imprisonment is contrasted with Sydney Carton's emotional resurrection from a self-focused drunkard to the self-sacrificing savior of the story.
After serving eighteen years of imprisonment at the hands of French nobility, Dr. Manette is set free by his daughter, Lucie, only to find the prison’s hold on him will not let go quite so easily. Initially, Manette’s new found physical freedom will be his “recall to life” when Lucie promises, “I tell you, dearest dear, that your agony is over, and that I have come here to take you from it, and that we go to England to be at peace and at rest” (Dickens 49). Manette is now on a new path able to do as he pleases with his beloved daughter establishing his new life in England far from the confines of the Bastille. However, as Marie Rose Napierkowski illuminates, his freedom from the prison may only be an illusion, “Manette cannot quite shake the hold his burial and rebirth has on his mind. He reverts to his cobbling- a sign of his madness contracted in prison- during periods of stress” (Napierkowski 358). Dr. Manette loses touch of what has “recalled him to life” caus...

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...le Of Two Cities Charles Dickens uses the French revolution as a vehicle for carrying his characters on a journey into the potentials of a new life. As France itself breaks free from the grip of tyrannical nobility, the characters of Dr. Manette and Sydney Carton are given their own forms of freedom from their own imprisonment. It is clear that Dickens is conveying that being “recalled to life” and actually experiencing the fullness of it does not always go hand in hand. Dr. Manette never truly escapes the realities of his imprisonment while Sydney Carton finds life only by giving it up. Such is the price of freedom.

Works Cited
Ciccarelli, Sheryl and Marie Rose Napierkowski, eds. Novels for Students. Vol 5. Detroit: Gale, 1999. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 17 May 2013.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 2004. Print.

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