Question: Examine the theme of resurrection as depicted in “A Tale of Two Cities”. Or, discuss the theme of resurrection in A Tale of Two Cities
The term resurrection stands for the action or fact of regeneration or being resurrected. The novel “A Tale of Two Cities” (1859) composed by the well-known novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870) has exhibited the major theme of Resurrection through a self-less love story. Dickens has glorified the theme of resurrection from various points of view.
The basic idea of resurrection
The resurrection or coming back to life from the dead has been a regular attraction in world culture. It is built on faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Charles Dickens’s novel “A Tale of Cities”, about the French Revolution, resurrection is a common theme, although no character is literally brought back from the dead.
The resurrection of characters
Dickens is a great master of the art of characterization. In the novel, he has shown the major theme of resurrection through some characters such as Dr. Manette, Sydney Carton, Charles Darnay, Jerry Cruncher. Dr. Manette is resurrected physically and mentally after the release from his long eighteen years of imprisonment. Mr. Lorry’s message “Recalled to life” refers to the new start of life to swipe away from his past life. After a deep love and affectionate care by Lucie, Dr. Manette has restored his life as a physician.
Another resurrection happens in that time when he knows that Charles Darnay is the French Royal blood people. Despite Darnay’s royalty, Dr. Manette has agreed to the marriage between Lucie and Charles Darnay. It was a great mental resurrection for Dr. Manette. The novel “A Tale of Two Cities” discusses the supreme resurrection of Sydney Carton. His noble sacrifice of life for Lucie and humanity is really praiseworthy.
“I would embrace any sacrifice for you and those dear to you”
Another minor but important resurrected character is Jerry Cruncher. In the initial part of the novel, we see that Jerry stole the dead bodies and sold them to the scientists but to see the brutality of revolutionism he realized the cruelty of revolution and rectified himself. Thus, he is resurrected and is the witness to the violence and evil of the Revolution.
The resurrection of humanity
Sydney Carton is the embodiment of the resurrection of humanity. He is one of the sacrificing characters in the history of English literature. Sydney Carton has sacrificed his life to save Darnay’s life and gives a final warning to all the oppressors of humanity. By the execution of Sydney, the novelist has sown the horror and meaninglessness of the revolution. The aristocracy has shown the seed of violence and oppression and the cruelty of revolutionism is the fruits of their seed. Everybody knows a proverb, “Money makes money”. Following this proverb, we can say that evil returns evil. According to Dickens, we may say that like Jesus Christ, Carton has resurrected himself for his love and humanity.
“Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms. Sow the same seed of rapacious license and oppression over again, and it will surely yield the same fruits according to its kind”.
Being spiritually resurrected, Carton has decided to sacrifice his life. After his execution, he is alive in the mind of Lucie and all humanity. He is a Christ-like figure. Christ was crucified to save humanity. Similarly in the novel, we have witnessed another sacrifice for the sake of love and humanity.
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done;
It is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known”
Social and political resurrection
“A Tale of Two Cities” emphasizes the dream of a healthy society and the political wind of France. Sydney declares that after someday France will recover its horror and oppression and that time is not far away. Thus, France will be resurrected through love and sacrifice, not through the Revolution. Sydney’s last vision is just for a sound social and political France.
The resurrection of France
A Tale of Two Cities refers to the two cities of England and France, London and France. At the end of the novel, Dickens has displayed the resurrection of France. This is possible by eradicating all the evils and fears that build the future of France through love and sacrifice. The following lines are a fine example of revived France.
“I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and in their struggles to be truly face, in their triumphs and defeats through long years to come”
In light of the above discussion, we must say that the novel ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ is replete with the theme of resurrection. By these resurrections, Dickens has asserted the futility of revolution.