Sacrifice in the Name of Love
During the book A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, the rise of the peasants and middle class, who are tired of the nobility treating them poorly, is displayed throughout the novel. The peasants in France are living in horrid conditions while the nobles live in a wonderful state. The birth of the French Revolution causes characters in the book to make sacrifices. Whether it is physical or emotional, sacrifices involve pain. Love requires sacrifice, and sacrificing does not always bring instant joy, but over time they are for the better. The theme of sacrifice is demonstrated in the name of love through the characters Dr. Manette, Miss Pross, and Sydney Carton.
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Dr. Manette sacrifices his sanity in the name of love for his daughter and the man she loves. For eighteen years Dr. Manette is put in the Bastille prison for trying to exploit the truth about the Marquises. The years he spends in prison is such a traumatic time that he hates to speak or remember them. Dr. Manette resurrects back to life by Lucie Manette when she is a young girl. Once he is restored, he periodically has relapses and turns pale every time he remembers his time in prison. Dr. Manette describes his relapses to Mr. Lorry, who is a friend, as “You have no idea how such an apprehension weighs on the sufferer’s mind, and how difficult– how almost impossible– it is for him to force himself to utter a word upon the topic that oppresses him” (155). His imprisonment at the Bastille not only is pain and suffering for the eighteen years he is in prison, but also years after being in prison because he has relapses. In addition, Dr. Manette has a relapse the day Charles Darnay, the man his daughter loves, tells Dr. Manette his true identity. Charles’s last name is Evremonde who is the child of the man who wrongfully puts Dr. Manette in prison. Later, Charles, Lucie’s husband, is going to be sent to prison in France unless someone helps him find a way out. Dr. Manette sacrifice his sanity because he knows by saving Charles he has the possibility of triggering a relapse, which he greatly despised, because he has to relive his past. Although the relapses are dreadful because of the emotional pain he suffers, he sacrifices the possibility of having one out of love for Lucie. He hates the whole Evremonde race and wants the them all dead. However, he loves his daughter who loves Charles, and with that he must help save the man his daughter loves for her happiness. Also, he learns for himself that Charles is not like his ancestors and does not let his hatred of the Evremonde family stand in the way of saving Charles for Lucie. He is positive he has the ability to help free Charles, and when planning to help Charles, Dr. Manette states, “My old pain has given me power” (202). His past imprisonment is beneficial in order to save Charles because he uses his influence upon the revolutionists to stop them from imprisoning Charles. Dr. Manette is well respected by the revolutionists since he is a victim of being put in prison for an unjust reason by the nobility. Furthermore, he is able to save Charles from his imprisonment by testifying on his behalf. He tells Lucie, “I have saved him” (223). Charles is safe because of Dr. Manette. As a result of helping Charles, he gains strength because he does not have anymore relapses. Also, Dr. Manette is thrilled that he saves Charles because he feels he has repaid Lucie for when she saves him. He shows his love for Lucie because by saving Charles, he allows Lucie to have a family. All in all, Dr. Manette puts the past behind him and sacrifices his sanity for his daughter and Charles.
Miss Pross sacrifices her hearing in the name of love for Lucie Manette. Miss Pross and Lucie have a very close relationship because Miss Pross takes care of Lucie while her father is in prison for eighteen years. Because Charles is an Evremonde, Madame Defarge seeks revenge on Charles Darnay and his family which includes Lucie since she is Charles’s wife. The Evremonde family are a notorious family that destroy Madame Defarge’s family. When looking to catch Lucie in the act of grieving her husband, who is about to die at the guillotine, Madame Defarge runs into Miss Pross instead of Lucie. Miss Pross does not let her know where Lucie is for the safety of Lucie and her family. Miss Pross knows that Madame Defarge wants Lucie dead. Miss Pross holds on tightly to Madame Defarge, and she tells Madame Defarge, “I’ll hold you till one of the other of us either faints or dies” (287). Miss Pross is devoted to Lucie, and she is willing to die to protect Lucie and her family. Miss Pross’s love for Lucie is so strong she is willing to give up her life for Lucie so Lucie can live. The two women fight one another; Madame Defarge strikes violently and tears her face, but Miss Pross is determined to not let Madame Defarge go. Additionally, Miss Pross risks her life when she feels a dagger in Madame Defarge’s bosom, yet she does not let go because of her courage and her love for Lucie. Miss Pross has great courage to fight Madame Defarge, “But her courage was of that emotional nature in brought the irrepressible tears into her eyes. This is a courage that Madame Defarge so little comprehended as to mistake for weakness” (286). This strong power that Madame Defarge mistakes for a weakness that gives Miss Pross courage to risk her life and sacrifice her hearing is love. Madame Defarge is filled with hatred since the Evremonde family tears her family apart. She has let the hatred of them consume her and take over her life which ruins it. While she represents hate, Miss Pross represents love. Miss Pross defeats Madame Defarge which demonstrates that love is stronger than hate. In addition, Miss Pross risks her life during the fight because Madame Defarge draws her pistol and shoots it at Miss Pross. However, at the last minute Miss Pross deflects it, and instead, the bullet goes through Madame Defarge. Although Miss Pross does not get shot, she would take the bullet if that means Lucie and her family are safe. Later, while Miss Pross is talking to Mr. Lorry, she tells him, “I can hear nothing” (288). The shot of the pistol is very close to her ears and so loud that she becomes deaf. Miss Pross shows how strong her love for Lucie is through her sacrifice in the name of love. She gives up hearing so that Lucie could live. She suffers the injury of the loss of her hearing for the rest of her life because she sacrifices it out of love for Lucie. Miss Pross risks her life, and she sacrifices her hearing because she loves Lucie in a way that she would do anything to ensure her safety. All in all, Miss Pross is very loyal to Lucie and sacrifices her hearing in the name of love.
Sydney Carton makes the ultimate sacrifice by dying in the name of love for the sake of Lucie and her family. Carton lives a useless life wasting it as a drunkard. All of his life he has a few friends, and until Lucie Manette comes into his life, he admits that he does not care for anyone, and no one cares for him. Once Lucie enters his life, Carton opens his heart to Lucie and confesses his love for her. Carton tells her how she marks the climax of his life, “I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul” (115). Lucie tries to restore him from his misery, but Carton does not want to be saved because he believes that it is his fate to live a melancholy life. He has a low self esteem because of his friend that he has been with all of his life who always holds Carton under him, and Lucie makes Carton feel worthy and important. This is what draws Carton to have a deep love for Lucie, but Carton is grateful Lucie does not want to marry him because he knows that he would only bring her misery and pull her down. In addition, to Carton’s love for Lucie, he promises Lucie, “I would embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you” (117). He keeps his promise to Lucie when he gives up his life in order for her husband, Charles Darnay, to live, so she can have the life she wants with a family. Charles is sentenced to death by the Guillotine, and they both look greatly alike; therefore, Carton alone saves Charles. Carton lives a useless life, and Charles has a family that needs him. Additionally, Carton sacrifices his life for Charles because he loves Lucie, and he wants her to have the family she has always wanted. When Carton talks in a hurry and gives Charles commands to follow, Charles is not thinking about what he says. Charles is just following the orders, and Carton fools Charles into switching clothes with him. Charles gets under the impression that Carton is trying to free him, and tells Carton, “Carton! Dear Carton! It is madness. It cannot be accomplished, it never can be done, it as been attempted, and has always failed. I implore you not to add your death to the bitterness of mine” (272). Charles warns Carton that it is dangerous to try and free him because in the past attempts it fails by anyone who tries. Charles attempts to explain that there is no need for both of them to be dead and wants him to leave. Even though Charles warns Carton to leave him, Carton does not; he proceeds to help Charles escape from being executed. The two switch places hours before the execution; Carton is the man who dies at the Guillotine instead of Darnay. Also, Carton’s sacrifice is a selfless act because he does not tell anyone of the plan he makes because he does not care about recognition for his sacrifice. He knows that he sacrifices his life in the name of love for Lucie and that is enough to make him happy. Later, Lucie realizes Carton’s full love for her and his sacrifice in the name of love while leaving Paris, and she weeps over Carton’s death. He rests in the hearts of Charles, Lucie, and their descendants. Through his sacrifice, Lucie has the family she always wants and lives on with Charles. Furthermore, Charles and Lucie honor his name when they name their son Sydney Carton. The Young Sydney goes on to live a prosperous life as a lawyer and then a judge; this is the kind of life that Old Carton never has. Charles and Lucie love Carton as much as they love each other. His life results to nothing, so his sacrifice is better than anything he has ever done before. He enters heaven and achieves rest and redemption by giving up his life in the name of love. By Carton’s sacrifice he has a purposeful life and does something good through his life-sacrifice. In the end, Carton makes the utmost sacrifice through his love for Lucie when he lays down his life for a life she loves.
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Lucie Manette gains the love of Dr. Manette, Miss Pross, and Sydney Carton and impacts all of their lives. The sacrifices that are displayed by Dr. Manette, Miss Pross, and Sydney Carton are derived from love, a powerful force. Through their love, the characters decide to make honorable and brave sacrifices for Lucie Manette. Their love is so meaningful that they sacrifice their sanity, hearing, and life without any hesitation. In life the power of love allows people to give up something in order to have something else. One may ponder, if given the chance, would one make a sacrifice in the name of love.
- Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Edited by Paul Negri and Julie Nord, Dover, 1999.
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