A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

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A Tale of Two Cities Book 3, Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Three carts rumble through the Paris streets carrying the condemned prisoners to the guillotine. Some onlookers, used to the spectacle, are bored. Others gather to see Charles Evrémonde and insult him.
This alludes to Christ's journey to the crucifixion, during which Christ was also harassed and insulted by spectators.
Themes
Tyranny and Revolution Theme Icon
Imprisonment Theme Icon
The Vengeance is in the crowd. She has been saving a front-row seat for Madame Defarge and holding her knitting. She bitterly regrets that her friend will miss the festivities.
Madame Defarge is separated from her knitting: the grip of fate has been broken.
Themes
Tyranny and Revolution Theme Icon
Fate and History Theme Icon
The young woman is scheduled to be beheaded by the guillotine just before Carton. She thanks Carton for helping her stay composed, and says he must have been sent to her from Heaven. Carton tells her to focus only on him and to have no fear. When her time comes, they kiss, and she calmly goes to the guillotine. Carton is next. He says "I am the resurrection and the life." Carton ascends the platform, his face looking serene and prophetic, and the guillotine crashes down on his head.
As Christ comforted his fellow prisoners on the cross, Carton also comforts the girl, urging her to look past the suffering of politics toward a heavenly future. With such faith, the condemned have no fear. Carton's prayer suggests that they will live forever. His serene face implies the certainty of his salvation and resurrection, brought about through faith.
Themes
Tyranny and Revolution Theme Icon
Fate and History Theme Icon
Sacrifice Theme Icon
Resurrection Theme Icon
The narrator describes Carton's final thoughts. He recognizes that Barsad, The Vengeance, and all the "new oppressors" will die by the guillotine they now celebrate. Yet he is also sure that Paris will rise up from its ashes, struggling to be free. He sees a vision of Lucie with a new son, named after him, who will live a successful and prosperous life. He also sees Dr. Manette restored to health, and Mr. Lorry leaving all his considerable wealth to the Manette's and then passing tranquilly away. And Carton knows he is blessed and treasured by all these people. The novel ends with Carton's final thoughts, "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."
In Carton's vision, the revolutionaries who showed no mercy will not receive any, just like the aristocracy before them. The novel makes the case for mercy, in particular Christian mercy, as a vital force to counteract the tendency of the powerful toward tyranny, and suggests that France will eventually find this balance. For his selfless sacrifice, which alone could break the grip of fate and history, Carton is resurrected not just in heaven but also through Lucie's son, who lives out Lucie's hope that Carton would live a better life.
Themes
Tyranny and Revolution Theme Icon
Fate and History Theme Icon
Sacrifice Theme Icon
Resurrection Theme Icon
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