Charles Dickens And Sydney Carton

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade February 2002

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The theme of a novel is an extremely integral part of the development of characters and plots. In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens intertwines the theme, plot and a pivotal character to create a complex story. Dickens uses specific characters and their actions in the story to relate an overall theme for the entire novel. This is a useful tool in depicting the author's message to the reader subliminally while developing an interesting plot.

This novel has many themes, which range from revenge to love and social reform. In between, there are certain major focuses such redemption, rebuilding and second chances which Dickens portrays through the living example of a character, Sydney Carton. These three themes appear in three major events in which this character's role is extremely important, the French Revolution, Sydney's personal history, actions and his future.

The French Revolution is the rebuilding of France during turbulent social and political times.

France finds itself in one of the ugliest times in its history throughout the French Revolution. The country finds itself overrun by its own people in a battle between two classes. From this, the theme of rebuilding and change emerges. The revolt by the peasants against the nobles symbolizes the need for reform in a system where only the rich may proper. In order to free themselves of the hardships of their lives, there must be a drastic change to liberate them in order to rebuild their lives.

Sydney Carton relates to this theme of rebuilding because he sacrifices his own life during the upheaval of the French Revolution. He portrays this idea mainly through his willingness to die for another man's, Charles Darnay's, benefit. His actions allow the people who are most important to him, Lucie, Charles and their family, to rebuild their life together. After realizing the harsh reality that the French Revolution brought to their lives, they would be able to pick up the pieces away from France and create something special because of his actions and confidence.

This theme is also closely knit to the theme of redemption in respect to Sydney Carton. His life has been a life of complete despair. He is a lonely man in a lonely world, with no accomplishments in his life. In an attempt to forget this harsh reality he drinks and drinks the days away while longing for the love of someone who cannot and does not return it. He has never found a sense of direction in his life and Sydney feels his life has been worthless until he is finally given one chance for redemption.

The love of his life, Lucie Mannette is married to a French nobleman who is being held in jail. He is being held due to the action of his father and uncle despite the fact that he was only a boy. The throng of people want his head, and there seems to be no escape. Sydney Carton recognizes this as a second chance to change a life of unbridled talent into one with a good purpose. In sacrificing his own life, he knows that he can make Charles Darnay and Lucie Mannette, have the life he had always wanted for himself. Together they represent all that he could have been and wished to have been. However, he is aware that this is his only way to leave this world with his own dignity and pride on his own terms. This act of utter devotion redeems Sydney spiritually and emotionally and allows him to accept his fate with complete calm and serenity. Through his final act, a whole life of waste and solitude is replaced by a legacy of heroism and love. The last line of the novel portrays Sydney's noble motivation: "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."� Rebuilding fits into the redemption of his actions because he was able to spiritually rebuild his state of mind through his devotion and trade-off. From this point onwards, Sydney Carton feels that he will be able to build a new life somewhere else, away from a world that had given him nothing but grief.

Sydney Carton represents the most integral part of the entire novel. His actions are the climax of the novel and represent the two major themes, redemption and rebuilding. Through his actions and sacrifices he exemplifies the essence of Charles Dickens message. No matter how bad a situation, there is always a chance to change the course of the future as long as you find and seize the opportunity, which you are presented with