Many believe no matter how rough things are, there can always be redemption in life. Through the novel A Tale Of Two Cities, most escaped the grasp of their own mental destruction even when death was at hand.
Charles Dickens describes two characters known as Dr. Manette, a man who used to be a prisoner of the Bastille, and Sydney Carton, an alcoholic with potential who chooses to waste his life away. Dickens uses these traits to give the characters a goal towards achieving redemption.
Dr. Manette, a man who lost all sanity through years of imprisonment, worked towards redemption with help from others. Through the years spent within the Bastille, Dr. Manette looked older than his age, believed he was a shoemaker, and forgot his name. Mr.
Lorry, a businessman, and Lucie, Dr. Manette’s daughter, were set with the emotional task of restoring Dr. Manette back to “life, love duty, rest, and comfort” (22) state of being. Redemption attained by Dr. Manette resulted in trauma for years to come; whenever reminded of his imprisonment, the Doctor would go back to his deranged state of mind. Lucie, his daughter, recalls the doctor back to life giving him a shot at redemption. Working towards doing what was deemed best, Dr.
Manette followed through on his promise to Lucie when she saved him. Once saving Charles, Dr. Manette thought, “He had accomplished the task he had set himself, his promise was redeemed, he had saved Charles” (293). Saving Charles Darnay from prison as Lucie had saved Dr. Manette all those years ago, Dr.
Manette believed he had been redeemed and was finally clear of debt with his daughter. Saving Charles as a recompense, Dr. Manette redeemed himself in the process.
Through other characters, Dr. Manette was redeemed; resulting in a weight to be lifted from his shoulder. One character mentioned Dr. Manette was “aged and bent, but otherwise restored” (381) once saving Charles Darnay. Furthermore, Sydney Carton traded places with Charles Darnay allowing a burden to be lifted off of Dr.
Manette’s shoulders. Feeling an inner peace knowing Charles Darnay was alive, Dr. Manette was able to be “restored” and redeemed. Dr. Manette made amends knowing someone other than Charles gave up his life; being the doctor would have been the reason of Charles death.
Dr. Manette shows the reader human spirit is strong and it is always possible to get a second chance at life. Another character in need of redemption, Sydney Carton, is known to be a man who receives the short end of the stick. Carton lost the outlook on life for the ability to improve upon his ways;leading to not minding if Lucie loved him back, and the fact Sydney received no credit while working with Stryver. Throughout the novel, Sydney is portrayed as a man of no hope who suffered from the loss of his childhood family. Carton’s hope disappeared as early as when “He had followed his father to the grave. His mother dying years before” (318). Leading Carton to be ready for death at any point, Sydney turned towards alcohol as a result of his life’s tragedy.
One positive light in his life, was the character Lucie. Blinded by his admiration for Lucie, Sydney saved a man in the trial at the beginning of the book. Adding a sense of humanity and selflessness, the trait demonstrated when Sydney truly started being redeemed. Looking alike, Carton saved Charles Darnay at his trial for treason, as a result of his “strong resemblance he undoubtedly bore to the prisoner” (77). The result of Sydney putting in enough effort to point out the fact he and the prisoner looked alike added to the fact Carton had been working towards redemption. By focusing on someone other than himself, Carton’s attempt to be humanized supports his goal of becoming a better person.
At the end of the novel putting the prisoner and Lucie’s happiness before his own, Sydney followed through on his promise of giving his life for someone Lucie loved. The insight was given; as a result of Carton dying, showing what Carton had done was admirable. Once Carton had passed, he thought, “It was a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go than I have ever known” (382). As Carton was redeemed by his death, a irony is portrayed. Sydney redeemed his sinful life in this final sacrifice making him a parallel to Jesus Christ, resulting in an alcohol-filled life worthwhile.
Putting others before himself and saving another in place of his life, Sydney Carton developed as a noble and courageous character. Sydney’s one complete act of humanity allowed himself to get steps closer towards being redeemed. The character’s transition from a good for nothing person to a hero supports Dickens’ theme showing anyone is worthy of redemption. Through Dr. Manette and Sydney Carton, the author’s theme of redemption is demonstrated. Although suffering their own mental destruction, there is hope and potential bestowed upon Dr. Manette and Sydney Carton; giving the characters a shot at redemption.
By Dickens’ characters in the book, it is shown no matter how bleak a person’s life might seem, redemption is possible for every man.