The French Revolution began in 1789, inspired by the American Revolution, which ended a mere 6 years before the French Revolution began. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is set during the French Revolution for about half of the novel. Dickens focuses on a theme involving sacrifices made by certain characters right before the French Revolution and during the Revolution using many examples to develop the theme. He developed the theme of sacrifice for others in the name of something or someone throughout the book through the sacrifices of Manette’s sanity for Lucie Manette to marry Charles Darnay, Darnay’s freedom in order to go back to France to help Gabelle out of prison, and Sydney Carton giving up his life for Darnay to live.
Near the beginning of the novel, Dr. Alexandre Manette sacrifices his sanity so that Lucie Manette can marry Charles Darnay. Dickens describes Manette’s thoughts about the proclaimed marriage at first by writing, ““A struggle was evidently in his face; a struggle with that occasional look which had a tendency in it to dark doubt and dread.” (Dickens 103). Manette is struggling to decide whether or not he should let his beloved daughter marry Darnay because he is unsure about his mental stability; Manette does not know if he will relapse back into his unhealthy mental state from imprisonment. He is doubtful that he will stay sane and that he will not go back to shoe making. Although, Manette is also doubtful about Darnay’s history. Finally, Manette tells Darnay, “You speak so feelingly and so manfully Charles Darnay, that I thank you with all my heart, and will open all my heart, or nearly so.” (103). These words explain that because of Darnay’s honesty about his feelings and his obvious love towards …
…and his love. His love for the two girls is so great, that he will sacrifice his life for them to be happy.The sacrifices of Manette’s sanity for Lucie Manette to marry Charles Darnay, Darnay’s freedom in order to go back to France to help Gabelle out of prison, and Sydney Carton giving up his life for Darnay to live are examples of the theme of sacrifice for others in the name of something used to develop this theme throughout the book. The themes carry Dickens’ story very well and create a very suspenseful read. Dickens uses themes along with foreshadowing and symbolism to create this suspense and mystery. A Tale of Two Cities most likely would not have been as successful and well known as it is if it were not for Dickens’ superlative use of theme, foreshadowing, and symbolism.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Mineola: Dover, 1999. Print.