How does the author lead up to Sydney Carton's sacrifice in A Tale of Two Cities?A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, there are several instances of foreshadowing in which the author provides hints for the sacrifice of Sydney Carton:

  • During the trial of Darnay, Carton observes Lucie Manette and is immediately smitten by Lucie, whom he alludes to as "the golden-haired doll." His love for Lucie later leads him to declare to her that he will do anything to help her in the future.
  • When he takes Charles Darnay out for a meal at the tavern, Carton congratulates him on his acquittal and even broaches the subject of Lucie as "a fair young lady to be pitied by and wept for by," indicating his envy of Darnay.  But, it is not just envy that Carton feels for his double; in Darnay he sees what he could have been, an observation that is key to his future sacrifice.
  • That Sydney Carton senses the eventual revolution is indicated in Chapter 6 of Book the Second in which he tells Lucie, "There is a great crowd coming one day into our lives, if that be so...."
  • In Chapter 13 of Book the Second, Carton speaks to Lucie and notes that he has "unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shking off sloth and sensuality, and out the abandoned inspired it."
  • Most significantly, in this chapter, Sydney pledges to Lucie, "For you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything.  If my career wer of that better kind that there was any oppotunity or capacity of sacrifice in it, I would embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you."
  • When he learns that Charles Darhay is endangered as an aristocrat in France, Carton travels to Paris to assist in any way he can.  During his investigations, he learns from Jerry Cruncher information on Barsad, who works at the prison where Darnay is held. This knowledge helps Carton form his plan for saving Darnay.
  • In Chapter 9 of Book the Third, after Carton leaves the chemist where he has purchased certain packets to effect his plan, he walks the streets, recalling the solemn words read at his father's grave, "I am the resurrection and the life...he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live...."  These words from the New Testament give rise again to the theme of resurrection as Carton contemplates that he can redeem himself in death.

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