How is the theme of resurrection seen throughout A Tale of Two Cities?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Resurrection is shown in a variety of characters who try to reinvent themselves, alongside the larger idea of the country of France.

Of course, the country of France is going through a rebirth because it is going through revolution.

Resurrection is the process of bringing something back to life.  Dickens plays with the concept in several ways leading to Sydney Carton’s famously switching places with Darnay.

We are introduced to our first resurrection in Book I.  Jarvis Lorry is an old banker who is going to France to “resurrect” Dr. Manette.  Dr. Manette has been imprisoned for so long it is like bringing him back from the dead to get him out.  Lorry fantasizes about having a conversation with a ghost, in which the ghost is not sure if he wants to come back to life.  This demonstrates Lorry’s concerns in his resurrection role.

“I hope you care to be recalled to life?”
And the old answer:
“I can’t say.” (Book 1, Ch 6)

The second example of resurrection is Jerry Cruncher, who considers himself a resurrection man because he is really a grave robber.  He resurrects people by unburying them.  This is Dickens playing fun at his own theme, and introducing other cultural implications of resurrection.

Sydney Carton’s resurrection of Charles Darnay has the most religious overtones.  As he is preparing to die, Carton acknowledges his role with, “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (Book 3, Ch 15).  This demonstrates that Carton went into the process with his eyes open.  In resurrecting Darnay, he is resurrecting himself.  Carton did not like the person he had become, so he became someone else symbolically.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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