Sacrifice is the willingness to give up something of value for someone else who is more worthy. In the novel A Tale of Two Cities written by Charles Dicken, Dickens proposes all the motives behind sacrifices relate back to love. Many of the sacrifices in the novel were predictable yet heroic, had purpose, relates back to theme, and changes the reputation and future of the characters. There were many anticipated sacrifices made throughout the novel like Charles Darnay, but Sydney Carton and Miss Pross represent the most heroic ones.
Charles Darnay makes foreseeable sacrifices for he knew his family’s history and tries to leave his family for the sake of the women he loves. When he goes to visit his uncle he says,”.. this property and France are lost to me”(125). In other words, he is cutting himself off of his family line and renounces his inheritance because it no longer concerns him and Lucie in the future. Unlike Charles, Sydney’s heroic sacrifice was not expected for he was willing to give up his life for the woman he loves.
After Sydney gets rejected by Lucie he tells her, “… O Miss Manette,… think now that there is a man who would give up his life, to keep a life you love beside you”(152). Even though he knows Lucie will never love him like Darnay he still risks his life which astonishes the readers. Which also shows the long way he has come from being an alcoholic to a man who shows emotion. Another unexpected hero is Miss. Pross, like Carton she was willing to risk her life and to stay loyal to Lucie. After she duels with Madame Defarge, Miss.
Pross claims, “I can’t hear anything”(367). Dissimilar to Charles Miss. Pross does not actually lose her life, but instead pays a huge consequence of not being able to hear for the rest of her life. Although some sacrifices were expected and not as heroic as others each individual has a deep meaning behind them. Throughout the novel each character has a purpose behind each sacrifice they make. Charles Darnay originates from the Evremonde family, which holds an awful reputation for cruelty against peasants.
Because of this reputation Charles decides to go back to France to tell his uncle he forfeits his family’s last name and wants to move to England for there is a “.. Doctor with a daughter” whom he has affection towards(127). The reader can infer that he is talking about Lucie and his main purpose of dropping the family name is to protect her. Like Darnay, Carton also shows affection towards Lucie, and sees the heartbreak she goes through. He then realises it is, “.. ar better that I go than I have ever known” indicating he is risking his life in order for Lucie to have a joyful future with her significant other(379).
In conclusion, Charles and Carton both resigned oneself to many things out of love. Another sacrifice is made by Miss. Pross, for she willingly sacrifices her life for Lucie because she loves and adores her. Going against her morals, she fights Madame Defarge and says, “.. you are worth a thousand guineas to my darling” and in the end defeats her(365).
Although Miss. Pross is not in love with Lucie, but she does love Lucie in a motherly way. All in all majority of the sacrifices were made out of pure love which brings out the innocents and moral rights throughout the novel. Dickens relates each sacrifice in the novel to a theme. For example, Charles”.. would abandon [the power and wealth in France], and live otherwise and elsewhere” for he wants to start a new life without any enemies against him for his family’s past actions. Everyone deserves a fresh start no matter how bad their past life is, and should not judge a person by their looks.
In other words, do not judge a book by its cover. Carton also creates an important theme for he would, “.. embrace any sacrifice for you and those dear to you” which proves to the readers that love can conquers all, and with a little attention and love, it can change others lives as well(152). The final theme Dickens portrays is through Miss. Pross. Instead of being terrified of Madame Defarge Miss. Pross states, “.. you are worth a thousand guineas to my darling” and puts on a brave face and fights her(365).
Everyone deserves a friend or a mother figure who is caring like Miss. Pross and should settle for nothing less. Not only did these sacrifices change their life but it also changed others as well. Although Darnay’s sacrifice did not have a huge impact, Carton’s sacrifice changed everyone’s lives, and up until he dies he kept repeating “I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die”(371).
Carton was known for his alcoholic abuse and was looked down upon for all the poor choices he has made. After making the decision of execution he changes Lucie’s and Darnay’s life excessively, and is now looked at with respect and honor, which he deserves. Miss. Pross was looked upon as a loving character up until the fight with Madame Defarge which caused her to “.. never hear anything else in the world”(376).
Although this scene may not seem as impactful as the other sacrifices it represents the innocence and trauma she experiences which will never allow her to have the same life again in the future. In the novel, A Tale of Two Cities Dickens believes that all sacrifices comes with motifs; in other words, love. Without the three characters action and words the sacrifices made would have not been as impactful. Even though some of the sacrifices were predictable each and every one of them are heroic for it holds purpose, theme, and reputation.