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A Tale of Two Cities

by Charles Dickens

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How do Jerry Cruncher and Dr. Manette contribute to the resurrection theme in A Tale of Two Cities?

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The characters Dr. Manette and Jerry Cruncher provide an ironic, yet symbolic coexistence of resurrection in A Tale of Two Cities.

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With the main theme of A Tale of Two Cities being one of redemption--"I am the resurrection and the life...." Carton is reminded as he mounts the stairs to the guillotine--culminating with Sydney Carton's death as the sacrificial victim for Charles Darnay, the motif of resurrection prevails in the characters of Dr. Manette and his comical counterpart Jerry Cruncher.

In Book the First, "Recalled to Life," Mr. Lorry receives news that Dr. Alexandre Manette, long imprisoned in the Bastille, has been "recalled to life" and can resume his role as father with his daughter Lucie.  Unfortunately, in this resumption of life, Dr. Manette suffers from hallucinations, but with the nurture of Lucie and Mr. Lorry, he later reclaims his existence. Further, he makes every effort to redeem Charles Darnay, his son-in-law and son of the Evermondes who have been the cause of his imprisonment, exhibiting much Christian charity and love to his daughter's husband as he returns to France to testify before the revolutionary tribunal. 

Jerry Cruncher, the messenger of the news about Dr. Manette, ponders the phrase of "Recalled to Life" that Mr. Lorry uses,

"No, Jerry, no!" said the messenger, harping on one theme as he rode. "It wouldn't do for you, Jerry. Jerry, you honest trademan, it wouldn't suit your line of business! Recalled!...."

In this pun on "recalled," Jerry calls himself "a resurrection man" because he illegally resurrects dead men and sells them to men of science for study. In an ironic twist, however, Jerry is instrumental in assisting Sydney Carton in his blackmail of John Barsad so he can take the place of Darnay in prison. For, Jerry knows that the burial of Cly was a fake because when he dug up the coffin, it was empty. This information also serves ironically to redeem Jerry for his criminal deeds, and so he truly becomes "a resurrection man" in the spiritual sense.

Indeed, the narrative is rich with dualities and these dualities in Dr. Manette and Jerry Cruncher serve to assist the development of the theme of resurrection in A Tale of Two Cities.

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