A STEP BEYOND
11. One useful way to approach a question like this is to compare a series of characters whose actions exemplify the theme. Discuss the novel's three leading male characters- Dr. Manette, Charles Darnay, and Sydney Carton- in terms of how each acts out both resurrection and sacrifice.
Dr. Manette is "recalled to life" after 18 years' solitary imprisonment in the Bastille. How is he brought back fully into the stream of life? Then look at the sacrifices the doctor makes for Lucie, such as relinquishing her to the man she loves. How do Manette's breakdowns emphasize his sacrifices? How do these connect to his resurrection?
Charles Darnay has the honor of being "recalled to life" on three occasions, yet his sacrifices are what lead him into those deathly situations. Making frequent trips to France to carry out his mother's last wishes leaves him open to British charges of espionage, while renouncing his French property makes him a target of Revolutionary justice.
In Sydney Carton, renunciation and resurrection are most nearly joined. He renounces Lucie, and then dies for the man she loves. Carton's sacrifice resurrects Darnay to earthly existence, and assures Carton himself eternal life- a "far, far better rest" than he's ever known.
Finish by discussing how these characters' actions develop these themes in the novel as a whole. What is the importance of having these themes intertwined?
12. You can refute this statement by showing how Carton seems doomed to die. Discuss death imagery in the earliest descriptions of him; discuss how to react to his "wasted" life of drinking and subservience to Stryver. Finally, relate this to Carton's ending vision. Do you feel that by dying Carton has given into the force calling him all his life?
You can support this statement by showing that Carton's sacrifice is not only a better thing than he's ever done, but a more positive one. Analyze his mood and the appearance he makes in his dying scene. Discuss the value of his sacrifice to other characters, and then relate it to the novel as a whole: how does Carton's death resolve the novel's themes? Compare Carton's death to Christ's sacrifice, which redeemed all mankind.
13. First discuss the bad effects of 18 years as a solitary Bastille prisoner on Dr. Manette. Analyze the emotional impact of the specific form his madness takes (the amnesia, the shoemaking). How permanent is the doctor's madness? Discuss its recurrences, and talk about your own reaction to them.
Then show the positive side of the doctor's experience. According to the Revolutionaries, his suffering is no mark of shame, but rather a mark of heroism and a source of power. Is this borne out? Look at the doctor's actions during the dark 15 months his son-in-law spends in La Force, and at his appearance in court on Darnay's behalf. What is your reaction to him there?
Conclude by discussing how Dr. Manette's imprisonment develops themes of the novel. Is the good or the bad effect of the Bastille most important overall?
14. Discuss each pair in a paragraph. You may choose to look at one of these "twins," focusing on their similarities and their differences:
The St. Evremonde brothers: Charles Darnay's father and uncle. Though Darnay's father has greater authority, the St. Evremondes are spiritually indistinguishable- they're a double helping of evil.
Jerry Cruncher and son. A perfect miniature of his father- to the roots of his spiky hair- young Jerry represents the continuation of the family line. After his initial fright subsides, young Jerry even considers going into grave robbing, just like dad.
The little mender of roads/the wood-sawyer. One character, but in effect a split personality. As the little mender of roads he's a typical submissive peasant: the Revolution transforms him: the wood-sawyer is bloodthirsty and vindictive- again representative of the masses who, overnight, became a political force.
Madame Defarge and Miss Pross. Both women are strong, protective, and fiercely loyal. One is English, one French; one is good, the other evil.
15. Your opening paragraph should explain why you're comparing London and Paris. In each paragraph after that, pick one feature and discuss it in relation to both cities. For example, you could compare their political climates; the types of characters who seem dominant in each place; how their mobs behave; how their courts operate; the kind of events in the plot that take place there (weddings, murders, births, etc.). In your final paragraph discuss how Dickens seems to feel about them both. Include a discussion of how he split the book's action between the two cities, and which you feel has the greater dramatic impact.
© Copyright 1984 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.