Self-sacrifice: a Tale of two Cities and Carton

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Self-Sacrifice
“Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery. Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice. The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love” (Ueshiba 1). In the historical fictional novel written 1859, A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens illustrates through the character of Sydney Carton, whose willingness to give his own life for Lucie’s happiness creates the means for Charles Darnay’s salvation, the theme of self-sacrifice.

Sydney Carton, a worthless drunken lawyer with loads of self-pity, is characterized as a Christ-like figure, a selfless martyr whose death enables the happiness of his beloved and ensures his own immortality. Although we see that Carton does not truly love Lucie; he feels he needs her to redeem himself, though the only way to redeem his life was through resurrection. Because of this, his life would never have gotten any better, so the sacrifice Carton made was essential for his resurrection into something better. An ultimate sacrifice is foreshadowed when Carton tells Lucie, “If my career were of that better kind that there was any opportunity or capacity of sacrifice in it, I would embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you” (Dickens 158). This quote allows the reader to surmise that Carton will at some point compromise his life for Lucie’s family and their happiness. Carton’s sacrificial decision is for the better because Dickens conveys many times throughout the novel that even if Darnay was executed or Lucie

came to love Carton, his life and character would never improve. This parallels the paradox at the beginning of the novel, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we has nothing before us, we were all...
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