Resurrection is a flawless example of a second chance. In the case of resurrection, you are given a second chance at life itself. Although on a more minor scale; another element that represents a second chance, is that of forgiveness. In the case of forgiveness, you are given a second chance in one aspect of your life. Both of the illustrations are prevalent in A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens. For all intents and purposes, A Tale of Two Cities could very well be referred to as the book of second chances.
Our Gothic tale begins by giving a slight amount of background on what was going on around the setting of London and Paris. Then, leaving much still a mystery, we are launched right into the story of Dr. Manette’s long imprisonment and rescue. Mr. Lorry travels to Paris with “Recalled to life” on his mind. That is what he was to do in Paris, recall someone to life. The ‘someone’ that Mr. Lorry successfully recalled to life, freeing him after eighteen years of imprisonment and awakening his mind to the present, was none other than the good Doctor Manette.
Before his imprisonment Dr. Manette had been an upstanding individual who had meaning to his life. But for years now, the Doctor had no hope. He spent the eventless hours of his life making shoes. Not because he was a shoemaker, but because there was nothing else for him to do. Doctor Manette’s life was all but forfeit. This is why when he was called back to life, into the present time; it was as if he was resurrected to a new life. Dickens leaves the topic of Doctor Manette’s resurrection and moves on to the trial of Charles Darnay.
Charles Darnay was a man, accused of treason, and sentenced to a most gruesome death. He was defended by a man named striver but his real savior was, his lookalike, Carton. The crowd that had gathered at his trial was thirsty for blood; but in the end Charles Darnay was acquitted. Darnay was once so close to death that his acquittal acted as a second chance to live. This is another painting of resurrection; the signature on the painting is, of course, that of Charles Dickens.
Charles Darnay is from the lineage of a powerful and cruel family in France. This family had been directly responsible for suffering that Dr. Manette witnessed while imprisoned. Without divulging this information, Darnay begins to court Miss Manette. When Darnay does finally explain his lineage to the Doctor he is expecting the worst. But as Dr. Manette once received another chance to live, he passed on that second chance at a new life. Darnay does very well with his fresh start until he receives a letter from Gabelle requesting that Darnay come to his rescue. Gabelle is a man watching over his family’s estate; he was captured and help by the French revolutionaries.
Darnay returns to his old homeland despite the possibility of ruining his second chance at life. In France Darnay is detained by revolutionaries and sentenced to death for his family’s crimes. In the end he narrowly escaped with his life. This escape is yet another example of a resurrection or a second (in Darnay’s case a third) chance. But the means of his escape is what brings us to our final example of a second chance.
Sydney Carton, Darnay’s lookalike, had not been content with his life. He had been a drunk who didn’t amount to much; he was also deeply in love with Lucie Manette. The second chance he received was not a second chance at life per say, but it was the chance to make something of his life. That was just the chance Carton had been looking for. With his similar face to Darnay enabling him, and his love for Lucie empowering him he traded places with the condemned Darnay. This brave action resurrected Carton’s self image, his worth in life, and it saved Darnay all at once. Carton’s sacrifice would always be remembered by the people that Carton cared about most; and to him, that is what mattered most.
Charles Dickens is obviously a man that believes in second chances for all, and in some cases even third chances. Dickens did not discriminate in this; many different types of characters received a second chance. Doctor Manette was certainly not imprisoned because of wrong doing; but more likely because someone disagreed with the beliefs that he stood up for. Charles Darnay was no cretin, though he truly did have a shady background from which he delivered himself. Dr. Manette trusted Darnay to turn his new life around and leave the old one behind, despite the strong feelings of animosity toward Darnay’s family.
Out of all the characters given second chances throughout Dickens’s book, Carton made the greatest use of the gift. Sydney Carton’s life was nearly moot before the opportunity came to him. But when given his second chance, he used it to change his life and to outshine every other character in the book. Dickens is an advocate of giving second chances.
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