A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

Themes and Colors
Tyranny and Revolution Theme Icon
Secrecy and Surveillance Theme Icon
Fate and History Theme Icon
Sacrifice Theme Icon
Resurrection Theme Icon
Imprisonment Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Tale of Two Cities, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Sacrifice Theme Icon

A Tale of Two Cities is full of examples of sacrifice, on both a personal and national level. Dr. Manette sacrifices his freedom in order to preserve his integrity. Charles sacrifices his family wealth and heritage in order to live a life free of guilt for his family's awful behavior. The French people are willing to sacrifice their own lives to free themselves from tyranny. In each case, Dickens suggests that, while painful in the short term, sacrifice leads to future strength and happiness. Dr. Manette is reunited with his daughter and gains a position of power in the French Revolution because of his earlier incarceration in the Bastille. Charles wins the love of Lucie. And France, Dickens suggests at the end of the novel, will emerge from its terrible and bloody revolution to a future of peace and prosperity.

Yet none of these sacrifices can match the most important sacrifice in the novel—Sydney Carton's decision to sacrifice his life in order to save the lives of Lucie, Charles, and their family. The other characters' actions fit into the secular definition of "sacrifice," in which a person gives something up for noble reasons. Carton's sacrifice fits the Christian definition of the word. In Christianity, God sacrifices his son Jesus in order to redeem mankind from sin. Carton's sacrifice breaks the grip of fate and history that holds Charles, Lucie, Dr. Manette, and even, as the novel suggests, the revolutionaries.

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Sacrifice Quotes in A Tale of Two Cities

Below you will find the important quotes in A Tale of Two Cities related to the theme of Sacrifice.
Book 1, Chapter 6 Quotes
If you hear in my voice … any resemblance to a voice that once was sweet music in your ears, weep for it, weep for it! If you touch, in touching my hair, anything that recalls a beloved head that lay on your breast when you were young and free, weep for it, weep for it! If, when I hint to you of a Home that is before us, where I will be true to you with all my duty and with all my faithful service, I bring back the remembrance of a Home long desolate, while your poor heart pined away, weep for it, weep for it!
Related Characters: Lucie Manette (speaker), Dr. Alexandre Manette
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 2, Chapter 5 Quotes
Waste forces within him, and a desert all around, this man stood still on his way across a silent terrace, and saw for a moment, lying in the wilderness before him, a mirage of honourable ambition, self-denial, and perseverance. In the fair city of this vision, there were airy galleries from which the loves and graces looked upon him, gardens in which the fruits of life hung ripening, waters of Hope that sparkled in his sight. A moment, and it was gone. Climbing to a high chamber in a well of houses, he threw himself down in his clothes on a neglected bed, and its pillow was wet with wasted tears.
Related Characters: Sydney Carton
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 2, Chapter 13 Quotes
For you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything. 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 in coming, when new ties will be formed about you […] O Miss Manette, […] when you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!
Related Characters: Sydney Carton (speaker), Lucie Manette
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 3, Chapter 8 Quotes
Miss Pross recalled soon afterwards, and to the end of her life remembered, that as she pressed her hands on Sydney's arm and looked up in his face, imploring him to do no hurt to Solomon, there was a braced purpose in the arm and a kind of inspiration in the eyes, which not only contradicted his light manner, but changed and raised the man.
Related Characters: Sydney Carton, John Barsad (a.k.a Solomon Pross), Miss Pross
Page Number: 310
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 3, Chapter 15 Quotes
"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."
Related Characters: Sydney Carton (speaker)
Page Number: 389
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.