Question: Discuss the underlying themes of the novel A Tale of Two Cities.
The theme stands for the central idea of any literary work. The novel “A Tale of Two Cities” has been designed by a group of central ideas by which Dickens has mentioned the futility and meaninglessness of revolution. The themes of the novel are discussed in the following way.
In the novel, Dickens has been shown the resurrection as a major theme through some characters such as Dr. Manette, Sydney Carton, Charles Darnay, Jerry Cruncher are the example of revived characters. Dr. Manette is resurrected physically and mentally after the release from his imprisonment after eighteen years. 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 affection by Lucie, Dr. Manette has restored his life as a physician. The novel “A Tale of Two Cities” discusses a supreme resurrection by the character 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”
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 an ultimate warning to all the oppressors of 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”.
Class struggle or class distinction is the predominant theme of the novel. Here, the author has represented beautifully the struggle between the aristocracy and the common people. In “A Tale of Two Cities” two cities refer to the two cities – Paris and London and the political and social upheaval of Paris have been illustrated showing the similarity to the city London. If we minutely evaluate the mottos of the French Revolution – Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, it will be proved that the entire Paris has observed the fire of domination, inequality. In Monarchy there is no room for the common people and brutality had been the daily phenomenon of the aristocracy to rule the common people during the French Revolution. The French Revolution took place to ensure freedom, equality, and brotherhood but Dickens has been shown the futility of revolution in his novels. Thus, it can be said that the class difference is the distinctive theme of the novel “A Tale of Two Cities”.
“It was impossible for Monseigneur to dispense with one of these attendants on the chocolate and hold his high place under the admiring Heavens”.
Fate is another important theme of the novel “A Tale of Two Cities”. Fate is absolutely is a divine object but in the novel, Dickens has used the theme to understand the certainty of human beings. The theme of fate is reflected in the novel through the character of Charles Darnay and Dr. Manette. For the supremacy of their divine fate, they are recalled to life.
Family plays a vital role in the life of every human being. In the novel, the author has mentioned the function of family and by getting family Dr. Manette has recovered his life. So, the significance of the family has been pervaded in the novel.
Reversal and Inversion
There is a proverb that “Money makes money”. By the theme of reversals and inversion, the same thing has been reflected. The aristocracy has shown the seed of oppression and brutality in 1789 during the French revolution. They had taken the test of the same fruits. In the section, we can say that evil returns evil.
Last of all, the novel has great thematic validity. Excluding above mention themes in the novel Dickens has represented some sub-themes such as the futility of revolution, duality, and so on to show the destructive aspects of the revolution.