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In A Tale of Two Cities. how does the phrase "Recalled to Life" apply to Dr.Manette,...

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tgm12 | Student | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted June 2, 2011 at 7:26 AM via web

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In A Tale of Two Cities. how does the phrase "Recalled to Life" apply to Dr.Manette, Charles Darnay, and Sydney Carton?

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Darnay

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 2, 2011 at 9:41 AM (Answer #1)

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The theme of Death and Resurrection is one to which Charles Dickens returns repeatedly in A Tale of Two Cities. In fact, the image of prisons as a grave is one that Dickens employs throughout his many works, perhaps because of his childhood experience of his father's having been in debtors' prison and lost to him as though he were dead. 

In Book I, the reader learns that Dr. Alexandre Manette has been released from this symbolic grave, "recalled to life" after 18 years, having been held unjustly in the Bastille because he made a report of a slaying of a peasant by aristocrats  to the authorities. They, in turn, notified the young men involved who had Manette imprisoned.  Having been confined for years in isolation, Dr. Manette has lost his sense of identity, thinking of himself only as a simple shoemaker.  In Chapter 6 of Book I, it is a white haired forty-five year old man who has a "vacant gaze" and "unsteady fingers" and unable to look directly at people. Knowing himself only as "One Hundred and Five, North Tower," it is not until his daughter approaches and he sees her golden hair that a connection to his old life occurs.  For, he pulls from around his neck a strand of hair, golden like Lucie's, and this recognition resurrects his old life.

Later in Book III, Dr. Manette is again recalled to life, his old life in France, as he testifies on behalf of his son-in-law Charles Darnay, [Evremonde]. Manette's testimony resurrects his position of respect in Paris as the "Bastille Captive" rather than as a prominent physician.  Nevertheless, this experience restores much of the dignity and pride that has been lost to the spirit of Manette.

Dr. Manette's son-in-law, Charles Darnay, also has experiences in which he is "recalled to life." In Chapter 3 of Book II, after Darnay comes to England to escape death in France as an aristocrat, he finds himself ironically threatened with death anyway on a charge of treason brought upon him by a spy who calls himself "a patriot": John Barsad.  But, thanks to the acumen of Sydney Carton, the witness Barsad is discredited and Darnay is freed and given renewed life.  He then falls in love with Lucie Manette and is married to her. However, shortly thereafter, his tax collector Gabrielle, writes a desperate letter from prison, begging him to return to Paris on his behalf.  Compelled by honor to return, Darnay is buried in La Force, the revolutionary prison, but is freed after Dr. Manette's intercession.  However, the vengeful Madame Defarge condemns him as an Evremonde, and he is reincarcerated.

It is Sydney Carton's attraction to Lucie that awakens him from his dissipation.  He finds new life in visiting Soho on Sundays at the Manettes and pledges his love and loyalty to Lucie in Chapter 13 of Book II:

"For you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything.  If my career were of that better kind that there was any opportunity or capacity of sacrifice in it, I would embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you."

Carton's devotion to Lucie and his desire to redeem his dissolute life is also what recalls Darnay to life with his family, for Sydney Carton becomes the sacrificial victim in place of Darnay.  His unselfish and courageous act redeems Carton, and he himself is recalled to life spiritually. Dickens's narrative ends in pathos as Carton redeems the sins of the Evremondes and is "recalled to life" in the grave.

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jack1998borgartz | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 3, 2012 at 10:00 AM (Answer #2)

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The theme of Death and Resurrection is one to which Charles Dickens returns repeatedly in A Tale of Two Cities. In fact, the image of prisons as a grave is one that Dickens employs throughout his many works, perhaps because of his childhood experience of his father's having been in debtors' prison and lost to him as though he were dead. 

In Book I, the reader learns that Dr. Alexandre Manette has been released from this symbolic grave, "recalled to life" after 18 years, having been held unjustly in the Bastille because he made a report of a slaying of a peasant by aristocrats  to the authorities. They, in turn, notified the young men involved who had Manette imprisoned.  Having been confined for years in isolation, Dr. Manette has lost his sense of identity, thinking of himself only as a simple shoemaker.  In Chapter 6 of Book I, it is a white haired forty-five year old man who has a "vacant gaze" and "unsteady fingers" and unable to look directly at people. Knowing himself only as "One Hundred and Five, North Tower," it is not until his daughter approaches and he sees her golden hair that a connection to his old life occurs.  For, he pulls from around his neck a strand of hair, golden like Lucie's, and this recognition resurrects his old life.

Later in Book III, Dr. Manette is again recalled to life, his old life in France, as he testifies on behalf of his son-in-law Charles Darnay, [Evremonde]. Manette's testimony resurrects his position of respect in Paris as the "Bastille Captive" rather than as a prominent physician.  Nevertheless, this experience restores much of the dignity and pride that has been lost to the spirit of Manette.

Dr. Manette's son-in-law, Charles Darnay, also has experiences in which he is "recalled to life." In Chapter 3 of Book II, after Darnay comes to England to escape death in France as an aristocrat, he finds himself ironically threatened with death anyway on a charge of treason brought upon him by a spy who calls himself "a patriot": John Barsad.  But, thanks to the acumen of Sydney Carton, the witness Barsad is discredited and Darnay is freed and given renewed life.  He then falls in love with Lucie Manette and is married to her. However, shortly thereafter, his tax collector Gabrielle, writes a desperate letter from prison, begging him to return to Paris on his behalf.  Compelled by honor to return, Darnay is buried in La Force, the revolutionary prison, but is freed after Dr. Manette's intercession.  However, the vengeful Madame Defarge condemns him as an Evremonde, and he is reincarcerated.

It is Sydney Carton's attraction to Lucie that awakens him from his dissipation.  He finds new life in visiting Soho on Sundays at the Manettes and pledges his love and loyalty to Lucie in Chapter 13 of Book II:

"For you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything.  If my career were of that better kind that there was any opportunity or capacity of sacrifice in it, I would embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you."

Carton's devotion to Lucie and his desire to redeem his dissolute life is also what recalls Darnay to life with his family, for Sydney Carton becomes the sacrificial victim in place of Darnay.  His unselfish and courageous act redeems Carton, and he himself is recalled to life spiritually. Dickens's narrative ends in pathos as Carton redeems the sins of the Evremondes and is "recalled to life" in the grave.

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