Throughout the book, A Tale of Two Cities the theme of sacrifice is used to help the reader realize the cost of life, as well as to develop the plot through the effects of those sacrifices. Through the characters of Sydney Carton, Dr. Manette, and Ms. Pross the theme of sacrifice is developed. The theme of sacrifice brings key aspects of the plot together, and Carton’s sacrifice brings the novel to closer in the end.
Sydney Carton paid the highest cost of sacrifice with his life, and in doing so he was very similar to Jesus Christ. Carton laid down his life for a man who had never done anything for him and who in fact had abused his relationship as demonstrated on page 191 when Carton describes himself in Darnay’s view as “a dissolute dog who has never done any good, and never will.” Similarly Jesus Christ let himself be beaten, abused, and killed for the same people who spit in his face. Other people in both cases thought that Jesus and Carton were not thought to be much more that dogs, while they both sacrificed their lives so these people who treated them like dogs could live. Both Carton’s and Jesus’ sacrifice was inspired by a deep desperate love for which they were willing to do anything. Carton was willing to die for Lucie because of his desperate, scandalous love for her, just as Jesus showed his love for man when he was willing to give up his life for every man. This level of love makes the sacrifice even more valuable and brings things to closure. Finally, Carton and Jesus both knew that through their sacrifice, others could have life. Carton’s death breathed life into Darnay just as Jesus Christ’s death breathes life into those who trust in him. The importance of their death is that it brings life. The role of Carton’s sacrifice in the plot is that the cost of life is sometimes high. Through his sacrifice the cost and privilege of living can be measured, just as Christians can see the true cost and privilege of life through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice.
Dr. Manette also sacrificed much of his life by giving up his own personal goals and agenda for Lucie. On page 125 Dr. Manette says, “any fancies, any reasons, and apprehensions, anything whatsoever, new or old against the man she really lovedthey shall all be obliterated for her sake.” Dr. Manette was willing to relinquish his own personal feelings or perhaps “rights” so that Lucie may be happy. He set aside, “anything whatsoever” in order for Lucie to marry the man she loves. Dr. Manette did anything he could to save Darnay from death, even to the point where Madame Defarge mocked him saying, “Save him now, my Doctor save him!” Dr. Manette had always been suspicious about Darnay, but he put aside his doubts in to Make Lucie happy. Deep down he knew that Darnay was an Evermond, but he sacrificed his own feelings for Lucie’s feelings. Thirdly, Dr. Manette gave up all of his desires, hopes, thoughts of revenge for Lucie, as demonstrated when he says, “She is everything to me; more to me than suffering, more to me than wrong, more to me.” Dr. Manette had years of anger and revenge stored up him from when he was imprisoned, yet he forgot about all of it and only tried to make Lucie happy and make up for the many years he had lost. Dr. Manette’s pain was so great that he often reverts to the insanity that was caused from his imprisonment, while he still does everything he can even though his pain is so great that he can not physically control it. Manette laid down his life so that Lucie could fully live.
Ms. Pross sacrificed her life day by day for Lucie to have a better life. Ms. Pross simply devoted her life to Lucie, and her well being which is shown when Mr. Lorry describes Ms. Pross’s devotion, “there is nothing better in the world than the faithful service of the heart; so rendered and so free from any mercenary taint” (87). Ms. Pross was sacrificed things everyday by simply being devoted to Lucie. She did everything she could so that Lucie could have the best possible life. Ms. Pross’s devotion is demonstrated once again on page 86 when she is described as, “one of those unselfish creatures found only among women who will for pure love and admiration, bind themselves willing slaves, to youth when they have lost it, to beauty that they never had, to accomplishments that they were never fortunate enough to gain and to bright hopes that never shined upon their own somber lives.” Ms. Pross sacrificed her hopes and dreams so that Lucie might have her own hopes and dreams fulfilled. Ms. Pross did not have all the beauty and fortune in the world, but she lived so that Lucie might someday. Ms. Pross’s ultimate sacrifice of devotion was when she put her own life at risk to save Lucie’s along with others, as she struggled with Madame Defarge to protect their safety. Because Ms. Pross was diligent enough to make sure that Lucie’s trip was safe; Lucie’s life was saved, at what could have cost Ms. Pross her life. By Ms. Pross’s willingness to do anything for Lucie, Lucie’s life was saved.
Ultimately, it was the sacrifices made by people like Ms. Pross and Sydney Carton that allowed people to live. Through their numerous sacrifices, the value of life is measured in A Tale of Two Cities, and their sacrifices give life to a time that was filled with much more death than life. Just as Jesus’ sacrifice allowed people to have life, the sacrifices of Dr. Manette, Ms. Pross, and Carton allowed people to live.
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