The Role of Resurrection in A Tale of Two Cities

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Robespierre, the dictator of the Committee of Public Safety during the Reign of Terror once said, "Terror is nothing other than [just], prompt, severe, [and] inflexible." If terror is just, would 30,000 men and women across France have lost their lives during the Reign of Terror? In Charles Dickens’s book, A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens uses the injustice in the French Revolution and the corruption in societies of that time to show the theme of resurrection along with many other themes. In the novel, the heroes and heroine use sacrifices to resurrect someone important in their lives. However, through the process of resurrecting another, some characters are also resurrected themselves. The two most important characters in relation to the theme of resurrection are Doctor Manette and Sydney Carton. In the three books of A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens explores the theme of resurrection by showing how Doctor Manette and Sydney Carton resurrect other characters and how they themselves are resurrected as well.

As suggested by the title of the book, “Recalled to Life”, Book One is about how one the novel’s heroes, Dr. Manette, comes to be resurrected. In Book One, the narrator introduces Doctor Manette as a political prisoner who was kept in the Bastille for eighteen years due to unknown reasons. During his imprisonment, Doctor Manette had lost his mind and was nothing but a shell of a person. However, his daughter, Lucie Manette, resurrects him; thus, Doctor Manette slowly regains his memories and begins to live, once again, a normal life. The freeing of the doctor relates to the theme of resurrection because despite having lost his mind, he recovers thanks to Lucie. One can also say that Mr. Lorry, the banker from Tellson’s in...

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... men resurrected, but they also resurrect others. In Book One, Dickens showed how Doctor Manette is resurrected by his daughter and Mr. Lorry. In Book Two, the theme of resurrection becomes more obvious to the reader when Carton saved Charles Darnay from death in Darnay’s trial. Lastly, in Book Three, the most important resurrections occurred; the resurrections of Doctor Manette and Sydney Carton, and the two resurrections of Charles Darnay. Although Dickens’ theme of resurrection is significant in the novel, one still wonders why he chooses that theme. Dickens leaves the readers wondering about this question, for it had nothing to do with the author’s life. However, Dickens was correct when he stated that “It was the best of times, [and] it was the worst of times”. (1) While revolutions do lead to a new way of life, it also causes the loss of many innocent lives.

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