In a Tale of Two Cities, Book the Third, chapters 9-15:  What life lessons could people of the contemporary world learn from what Sydney Carton experienced in the final chapters of Charles...

In a Tale of Two Cities, Book the Third, chapters 9-15:

 

What life lessons could people of the contemporary world learn from what Sydney Carton experienced in the final chapters of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities?

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thewritingteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sydney Carton spends the bulk of the novel dwelling on his own misfortunes and wasted life. As time progresses, Carton becomes more aware that one key to peace and happiness is in selflessness, an idea that he never entertained as a youth. In Book Three, Chapter Nine, Carton determines to do one completely selfless thing that, although he would not see the result, would be remembered by generations of Darnays.

Dicken's wrote of Carton's feelings after having made the plan to save his look-alike:

"There is nothing more to do," said he, glancing upward at the moon, "until tomorrow. I can't sleep."

It was not a reckless manner in which he said these words aloud under the fast-sailing clouds...[It] was the settled manner of a tired man, who had wandered and struggled and got lost, but who at length struck into his road and saw its end.

Contemporary culture is full of Sydney Cartons who live selfishly and then wonder why they aren't happy. Carton's experience illustrates that great personal sacrifice can be more rewarding than great personal success. He was a peace with himself, even to the final line of the book.

The primary life lesson for people of the 21st century is that happiness and peace are more closely linked to what one gives for others than by what one achieves for him/herself.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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