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A Tale of Two Cities

by Charles Dickens

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Aside from Carton in Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities", which other characters make sacrifices?

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Both Lucie and Carton make sacrifices for the people they love. Lucie sacrifices her youth to care for her father; she loves Darnay but puts off their marriage so that she can devote herself to her father's care. And Carton makes the ultimate sacrifice when he gives up his life to save Darnay's. Darnay himself is also a significant character in this regard, as he makes an important sacrifice at the end of the novel in order to ensure that Dr. Manette returns home safely with his daughter. However, since this sacrifice isn't made until the final pages of the novel, we'll consider it in more detail in our next question: In Dickens'

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Lucie Manette sacrifices her youth to care for her father. Dr. Manette was falsely imprisoned for eighteen miserable years in the notorious Bastille prison. As one can imagine, his physical and mental health have been seriously damaged due to his lengthy period of incarceration. With the onset of the French Revolution, the Bastille—hated symbol of royal repression—is destroyed, and Dr. Manette is finally released. But given his serious health issues, he's in desperate need of proper care and attention to help him readjust to life outside prison.

Thankfully, his daughter Lucie is on hand to take care of him. She's a kind and loving woman who selflessly puts her father's needs ahead of her own. At the same time, she loves Charles Darnay and wants to marry him. But crucially, she only agrees to go through with the marriage once she's been assured that she'll still be able to care for her father. In delaying her marriage, Lucie is once again sacrificing her happiness for the good of her father.

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At least three other characters act sacrificially besides Carton. They are Mr. Lorry, Dr. Manette, and Charles Darnay. Mr. Lorry is the first character we meet who represents the theme of sacrifice. He enters in “Book the First--Recalled to Life, II. The Mail." Lorry is noted for the people he rescues. First, he rescued baby Lucie after her father Dr. Manette is imprisoned in France. Then he went to rescue Dr. Manette eighteen years later when Manette was released from prison. Finally, he notably assists and accompanies Carton (symbolic of a big empty box that may, in due time, hold the treasures of life) on his quest to redeem his life by taking Darnay's place in a French prison.

As he held out his hand for the shoe that had been taken from him, Mr. Lorry said, still looking steadfastly in his face:

"Monsieur Manette, do you remember nothing of me?"

Dr. Manette, though not of sound mind when we meet him in “Book the First--Recalled to Life, VI. The Shoemaker,” is chronologically the first in the story to give of himself sacrificially. In fact, his sacrifice leads to virtually all other things that come; his sacrifice is central to the whole story. While living in his native land of France with a wife and baby daughter, Manette chose to speak out against the atrocities of the nobility and aristocracy (i.e., ruling nobility), in particular against the Evremonde family. This sacrificial attempt at social accountability, social justice, and social reform led to eighteen years of imprisonment by order of the Evremondes.

Charles Darnay is perhaps the most interesting character who sacrifices as he is the sympathetic hero. On two occasions he sacrifices his own welfare and safety when he attempts to aid people his family had in the past injured. His sacrificial attempts to assist a woman hurt by his family lead to his imprisonment under the accusation of being a spy on English soil. His later even more dangerous and more sacrificial attempts to aid an Evremonde family servant result in his imprisonment in France and his sentence of execution. In another instance, he risks the potential loss of all his happiness (and Manette's) by confessing to Manette that, though he uses his mother's maiden name of Darnay, he is of the Evremonde family, a family and name he has renounced.    

"[Charles has] been here some days—three or four—I don't know how many—I can't collect my thoughts. An errand of generosity brought him here unknown to us; he was stopped at the barrier, and sent to prison."

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