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In Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, there are many quotes that define the characters trying to cope with extremely difficult situations.
Doctor Manette has spent most of his life in jail because he tried to bring members of the upper-class to trial. Having missed so much, he lives vicariously through Lucie who reminds him of his wife. He moves between sanity and insanity, trying to cope with eighteen years in prison and what he has lost of himself.
She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and to a Present beyond his misery: and the sound of her voice, the light of her face, the touch of her hand, had a strong beneficial influence with him almost always. (Second Book, Chap. Four)
Because of her father's "situation," Lucie and the Doctor must live frugally ("little means" - little money). Lucie is rather frail, but devoted—and a light in the darkness of the French Revolution. However, Lucie also has a gift of making barren rooms and filling them with life. In her home, she uses the addition of small, inexpensive ("thrifty") and colorful items that welcome one into any room:
Although the Doctor’s daughter had known nothing of the country of her birth, she appeared to have innately derived from it that ability to make much of little means, which is one of its most useful and most agreeable characteristics. Simple as the furniture was, it was set off by so many little adornments, of no value but for their taste and fancy, that its effect was delightful. The disposition of everything in the rooms, from the largest object to the least; the arrangement of colours, the elegant variety and contrast obtained by thrift in trifles, by delicate hands, clear eyes, and good sense; were at once so pleasant in themselves, and so expressive of their originator, that, as Mr. Lorry stood looking about him, the very chairs and tables seemed to ask him, with something of that peculiar expression which he knew so well by this time, whether he approved? (Second Book, Chap. Six)
However, she ia also able to take barren lives and fill them with light as well.
The final quote is from Sydney Carton, a drunken English lawyer— a brilliant man, he cannot practice law directly because of his alcoholism, so he works with C.J. Stryver. Carton is in love with Lucie Manette, but nothing can come of it. However, there is something about Lucie that makes him recall whatever was good or noble in his life. Though she encourages him to strive to be the man he wants to be, he knows he cannot, and so dedicates himself to guaranteeing her happiness:
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. Try to hold me in your mind, at some quiet times, as ardent and sincere in this one thing. The time will come, the time will not be long in coming, when new ties will be formed about you—ties that will bind you yet more tenderly and strongly to the home you so adorn—the dearest ties that will ever grace and gladden you. Oh‚ Miss Manette, when the little picture of a happy father’s face looks up in yours, when you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life to keep a life you love beside you! (Book Two, Chap. Thirteen)
(Sydney will give his life to save her husband at the end of the novel.)
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