What is a major theme in A Tale of Two Cities?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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An important theme is resurrection.  There are several “ressurectionists” in the story.  These are people who bring others back to life, figuratively speaking.

The theme is introduced early on in Book 1: “Recalled to Life.”  The title refers to Dr. Manette being released from prison and figuratively brought back from life.  A humorous and satirical reference to resurrection is found in the character of Jerry Cruncher, who jokes that recalling to life would be bad for business, because he is a grave robber!

Much of that wouldn’t do for you, Jerry! I say, Jerry! You’d be in a Blazing bad way, if recalling to life was to come into fashion, Jerry!” (1:3, p. 9)

The strongest examples of resurrection are Lucie Manette drawing Sydney Carton out, because he falls in love with her and desires to be a better man, and Carton returning the favor by bringing her husband back to life when he trades places with him at the end.

“It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” (3: 15, p. 241)

The novel is really about second chances.  Dr. Manette gets a second chance at knowing his daughter.  Sydney Carton gets a second chance at happiness.  Lucie and Charles get a second chance at being a family when Carton trades places with Darnay so he can live.

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