Charles Dickens A Tale Of Two Cities English Literature Essay

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The first change readers see in Carton is the resurrection of his life. He goes to Lucie and tells her that "the utmost good that I am capable of now, Miss Manette, I have come here to realize. Let me carry through the rest of my misdirected life the remembrance that I opened my heart to you, last of all the world; and that there was something left in me at this time which you could deplore and pity." Carton realizes here that his love for Lucie makes him want to become a better person. He will give up his drinking so that he may not be a site of pity for her. Carton then sets out to resurrect Lucie's happiness when Darnay is arrested and condemned to die. He first restores the bond of husband and wife by exchanging places with Darnay in prison and sending him back to Lucie, thus restoring Lucie's happiness. When he is in Darnay's prison cell, the thought "I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die" comes to his mind. He has resurrected Darnay's life and given it back to him. Then at the end of his life he "sees the lives for which [he] lay down [his] life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy, in that England which [he] shall see no more."

                Carton is a symbol of life in the way he gives others an opportunity for new life. Carton decides first to give himself a new and improved life. He tells Lucie that he is going to become a better person and comes to realize that it is never too late to turn a new leaf. Once he changes his life for the better he brings new life to little Lucie and he becomes the "first stranger to whom little Lucie held out her chubby arms, and he kept his place with her as she grew." Little Lucie revitalizes him as he revitalizes her. Just before his death, Carton realizes that "it is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known." His life is worthwhile through his actions. Carton also gives life back to Darnay twice in the novel. He saves Darnay in the court room when Darnay has been accused of helping the Americans, and saves him again when he switches places with him in La Force. After switching places with Darnay, Carton gives new life to the poor seamstress who was wrongly accused and is amazed that Carton would die for Darnay. This act gives her the strength and courage to go to her death peacefully. Carton also gives Doctor Manette his life back. Carton has restored his family back to him and as Carton dies he sees a "father, aged and bent, but restored, and faithful to all men in his healing office, and at peace."

                Sacrifice is the final symbol associated with Carton's transformation. His ability to perform such immense sacrifice is a powerful theme. The first sacrifice that he makes is of Lucie's love. He knows that Lucie loves Darnay, so Carton chooses not to fight for her love. He sacrifices his love for her so that she might be happy. He also sacrifices his love because he knows that Darnay is better for her. "The utmost good that I am capable of now, Miss Manette, I have come here to realize. Let me carry through the rest of my misdirected life the remembrance that I opened my heart to you, last of all the world; and that there was something left in me at this time which you could deplore and pity." Carton's final sacrifice is the greatest show of his love for Lucie. He gives his own life so that she may be happy with her love, Darnay. Carton knows that he is doing the right thing and dies happy knowing that the family will be happy and remember him for his deed. When he dies he "sees the lives for which [he] lays down [his] life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy, in that England which [he] shall see no more."

                Carton's personal transformation is one of an amazing journey as he changes from a drunkard whom only worried about himself to a self-sacrificing individual who gives his life for another. Charles Dickens' effectively depicts Carton's change through the use of symbolism and comparison to Resurrection, Life, and Sacrifice.