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Theme of Resurrection in A Tale of Two Cities
In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens uses a variety of themes, including, revenge, revolution, fate, and imprisonment. Though these are very important themes, and were integral elements of this novel, resurrection served as the main theme aside from the obvious one which is revolution. The reason I chose resurrection instead of revolution, is because it is applicable outside of this novels setting. It is also important to note that the theme of sacrifice is closely tied into resurrection.
The phrase "recalled to life" sounds the first note in the theme of resurrection with Dr. Manette's release from the Bastille after 18 years of solitary confinement, and sets Dickens' plot in motion. The secret papers left in Manette's cell lead directly to the novel's climax, Charles Darnay's sentence to die.
Cruncher's grave robbing graphically illustrates the theme of resurrection: he literally raises people from the dead. One of the plot's biggest surprises is based on Cruncher's uunsuccesful attempt to unearthed the body of Roger Cly, the spy who testified with John Barsad against Charles Darnay. In France, years after his graveyard expedition, Cruncher discloses that Cly's coffin contained only stones and dirt. This information enables Sydney Carton to force John Barsad, Cly's partner, into a plot to save Charles Darnay's life.
Another important, but easily overlooked example of resurrection is when Dr. Manette grows confidence in himself and becomes the leader of the group. Dr. Manette triumphs over his past life and has a sort of rebirth.
The best example of resurrection in the entire book, is also partly ironic in that Sydney Carton must die for this resurrection to take place, when he is executed on the guillotine in Paris. However, his death is not in the book as Dicken's idea of poetic justice, as in the case of the villains, but rather as a divine reward. This is displayed when Carton decides to sacrifice himself by dying on the guillotine instead of Darnay, with "I am the Resurrection and the life." This theme of resurrection appears earlier on with Carton's prophecy, where he envisions a son to be born to Lucie and Darnay, a son who will bear Carton's name. Thus he will symbolically be reborn through Lucie and Darnay's child. This vision serves another purpose, though. In the early parts of the novel, Lucie and Darnay have a son, who dies when he is a very young child.
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France instead of England, and if the DarnayCarton family is to survive into the future, they need a son to bear their name. But much more importantly, this second son will be born free of the aristocratic domination that has almost destroyed his father, Darnay's, life. So this is how the children of Lucie and Darnay will live as English citizens free of any association with France and its violent past. Also; Carton will never truly die because in his death, he will have resurrected his own life, giving it purpose and meaning.
Themes in novels generally come from the authors personal life, and we probably don't know why Dicken's was so pre-occupied with the theme of resurrection, but it is none the less a very predominate method used in Dickens' writing. Even if we don't know why the author chose the theme of resurrection, it certainly added some spice to the novel, and was interwoven with great care into the novel's plot.