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

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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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A Tale of Two Cities

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