The French Revolution was a time of great chaos, violence, and trouble during the late 1700s. Many sacrifices were made out of freedom, loyalty, morality, and love. Throughout Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, the theme of sacrifice in the name of love is developed through the characters Miss Pross, Doctor Alexandre Manette, and Sydney Carton. Out of admiration and love for Lucie, Miss Pross made everyday sacrifices, including her life in a battle with Madame Defarge.
Miss Pross’ dedication to Lucie and her prosperity are demonstrated as Mr. Lorry describes her as “one of those unselfish creatures found only among women who will for pure love and admiration, bind themselves willing slaves, to youth when they have lost it, to beauty that they never had, to accomplishments that they were never fortunate enough to gain and to bright hopes that never shined upon their own somber lives” (Dickens 72). She was so devoted to Lucie and her well being that she sacrificed her own goals and aspirations so that Lucie might have her own hopes and dreams fulfilled.
Despite making small sacrifices day to day, her ultimate sacrifice of loyalty and love was when she put herself in great danger during her fight with Madame Defarge, who attempted to kill Lucie and the rest of her family. Dickens states, “It was in vain for Madame Defarge to struggle and strike; Miss Pross, with her vigorous tenacity of love, always so much stronger than hate, clasped her tight, and even lifted her from the floor in the struggle they had” (286). Madame Defarge pulled out her pistol and Miss Pross struck it aside.
The gun went off, killing Madame Defarge. This sacrifice cost herself her hearing because of the loud sound from the gun, resulting in permanent deafness. Although she lost her hearing, Miss Pross defeated Madame Defarge and her victory demonstrates how love is stronger than hate. By doing this, she gave Mr. Lorry, Doctor Manette, and Lucie enough time to escape safely from Paris. Equally important, Doctor Alexandre Manette sacrificed his sanity by relinquishing his own personal feelings for Lucie’s happiness.
When Charles Darnay confessed his love for Lucie to Doctor Manette, he made a promise to tell Doctor Manette his family name on the day of Lucie and Darnay’s wedding day. While talking to Darnay, Doctor Manette states, “- any fancies, any reasons, any apprehensions, anything whatsoever, new or old, against the man she really loved – the direct responsibility thereof not lying on his head – they shall all be obliterated for her sake. She is everything to me; more to me than suffering, more to me than wrong, more to me” (104).
In other words, Doctor Manette’s feelings towards anything said against him would not change his view on allowing Lucie to marry him. In addition, although he had years of anger and revenge built up in him from being imprisoned, he forgot about it all for Lucie to make up for the years that he had not been a part of her life. She is of his upmost importance and he doesn’t want anything to compromise their relationship. The morning before Lucie’s wedding, Charles Darnay, her soon-to-be husband told Doctor Manette, Lucie’s father, some interesting news.
While describing the scene, Dickens says, “The door of the Doctor’s room opened, and he came out with Charles Darnay. He was so deadly pale – which had not been the case when they went in together – that no vestige of colour was to be seen in his face” (149). As promised, Darnay told Doctor Manette his family name, which was Evremonde, the same name of the man who had imprisoned him for years. Even though he still allows Darnay to marry Lucie, Doctor Manette often reverts to the insanity caused from his imprisonment and terrible past. Lastly, Sydney Carton made the ultimate sacrifice of his life for
Lucie and her family because of his deep love for her. Earlier in the novel, Carton is known as a pathetic, drunk lawyer, who often describes his existence as a waste of life. Before Lucie’s wedding, Carton professes his love to her, though he still considers himself as worthless. He said to 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. Try to hold me in your mind, at some quiet times, as ardent and sincere in this one thing.
The time will come, the time will not be long… (117). He has feelings for Lucie, but he knows that he isn’t good enough for her. He tells her that he is willing to do anything for Lucie and her loved ones, which is foreshadowing the last chapter in the book. Later in the novel, Charles Darnay was imprisoned and soon-to-be executed. Through a note, Carton carries out his promise to Lucie and said, “If you remember,” said Carton dictating,” the words that passed between us long ago, you will readily comprehend this when you see it. You do remember them, know. It is not in your nature to forget them…
I am thankful that the time has come, when I can prove them. That I do so is no subject for regret or grief” (273). He died in place for Lucie’s husband, thus saving his life and keeping her family together. This sacrifice was done for Lucie and his love for her. The actions of Dickens’ characters Miss Pross, Doctor Manette, and Sydney Carton demonstrate how even the smallest of sacrifices out of love can make a difference and impact on someone else’s life. In addition, Dickens used these three characters to show how an act of loyalty and sacrifice will never be ignored or overlooked.