Mental PrisonersImprisonment is against human nature since God bestowed upon every person the gift of free will in order that they might choose where to go and how to live. Physical prisons are almost always the resulting mental image: dark dank cells where only people accused of severe crime go. Prisons, however, also exist mentally, as a result of the prisoner’s own sin locking the mind away from the unbinding relief freedom provides. The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is a superb demonstration of prisons both mental and physical and how they affect the personality and choices of the characters. Three such characters under imprisonment in this classic tale situated during the French Revolution include Dr. Manette, Madame Defarge, and Sydney Carton.
Dr. Manette is imprisoned unjustly in a physical prison for eighteen years. The torment and injustice of his situation drives him to discover a way to escape the distress and despair dominating his imprisonment. He crafts shoes to pass the time, he imprisons his intellect by gradually forcing himself to forget the torments of his imprisonment and even who, where, and why he is. Even after his loving and supporting daughter Lucie frees him, at least presently from his unfortunate predicament, whenever distressing occurrences intrude into his life he is prone to lock himself inside his mind becoming a mental prisoner once again. However, when Lucie’s husband Charles Darnay is imprisoned unjustly, Dr. Manette because of his own experiences as a prisoner, is determined through fruitless efforts, to set him free. “As my beloved child was helpful in restoring me to myself, I will be helpful now in restoring the dearest part of herself to her; by the aid of Heaven I will …
…rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
Dr. Manette, Madame Defarge, and Sydney Carton, by allowing the attributes of sin to imprison them, were unable to at first free themselves from the mental prisons they were locked inside. Dr. Manette searched inside himself and discovered he possessed the strength to find the key, which unlocked his mind. Madame Defarge, however, too long imprisoned by hatred and revenge, was unwilling to “forgive and forget,” which could have unlocked her mind’s prison door. Sydney Carton, discovered that Christ held the key, he repeated this verse to himself for encouragement, “I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” And as John 8:36 confirms, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”