In has the ability to transform the wretched and

In Charles Dickens’ book “A Tale of Two Cities”,  Sydney Carton is a deeply flawed character who evolved from a selfish individual into the Christlike hero that was willing to sacrifice himself to save another.  Surrounded by a bloodthirsty mob that was lusting for the drop of the guillotine’s blade, Sydney proved that the power of love has the ability to transform the wretched and grant them the strength to oppose great evil.  Charles Dickens used the similarities of the tragic deaths of Carton and Jesus Christ to establish the hope for not just the individual character and those he loves, but also for the resurrection of humanity.Charles Dickens first introduced Sydney Carton as a selfish, egocentric, narrow minded drunkard, who cared for no one other than himself.  “I am a disappointed drudge, sir.  I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me”  (p. 113). His legal partner, Stryver, described Sydney as a jackal, which is viewed as a sneaky, dirty scavenger.  Lucie arrived into Sydney’s life and awakened feelings of love that had been dormant in his soul.  The power of love healed his empty and meaningless soul and brought Sydney back to life.  Although he knew that his love was not reciprocated by Lucie, Sydney Carton made the following promise:  “For you and for any dear to you, I would do anything … O, Miss. Manette, when the little picture of a happy father’s face looks up at yours, when you see your own bright beauty springing up a new 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!” (p. 203-204).  In fact, Sydney did not view himself as worthy of Lucie’s love and felt that she would be throwing her life away if she was with him.   By the time that Sydney entered France to assist Lucie and Charles, he had already evolved from caring for no one to offering to extend his protection to those dear to Lucie.    The French Revolution provided the apocalyptic background that would test Sydney’s character and his commitment to the changes inspired by the love of Lucie.  Charles Dickens used the allusion to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the New Testament in order to reinforce the overwhelming evil and chaos that this hero would need the courage to face.  Similar to the doom heralded by these antichrists or demons, the Jacques unleashed a reign of terror into France.   Many religions characterize “evil” as sins that contradict God’s plans and laws.   Generally speaking, Judaism and Christianity establish laws of behavior that condemn conduct that is wrong or wicked as compared to acceptable standards of society.    The most basic of God’s commandments in the Old Testament is “Thou shalt not murder”.   Evil can be viewed as sins against other people such as murder, theft and rape, as well as sins against God including the non-belief in God and idolatry.  In revolutionary France, Sydney witnessed sins against both God and man.   The peasants practically worshipped La Guillotine instead of following the word of God.   The Jacques enthusiastically murdered thousands of aristocrats as well as innocents.    Carton was confronted with the plans of Madame Defarge to kill Lucie and little Lucie, who are symbols of innocence, purity, love and goodness in the story.  The conspiracy to kill little Lucie for the acts of her ancestors, reeks of a lack of morality and evidences the willingness of the revolutionaries to commit atrocious sins. Forgiveness of sin and the cleansing of the evil of humanity are  available only through great sacrifice.   The great power of love motivated Carton to make the ultimate sacrifice to save Charles Darnay’s life, which resulted in the final evolutionary stage of Carton becoming a Christlike figure.   As written in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”   While our hero achieved inner peace with his death, the beheading of Carton is intended to refer to more than the resurrection of an individual’s soul.  This character’s death alludes to the crucifixion of Jesus whose death was intended to atone for the sins of mankind.  God’s forgiveness of humanity’s sins required the ultimate offering of the life of Jesus Christ, who loved mankind.  Christians believe that the crucifixion was essential for God’s plan of redemption and salvation.   Before Carton died, he observed the crowd and had a prophetic vision in which  a “beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long years to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out. . . .”   By his willingness to switch places with Darnay, Carton used his blood to quench the Jacques’ thirst for revenge and allowed society to move one step closer to restoring peace on Earth.   Similar to the story of Jesus, chaos and evil will be conquered by sacrifice in the name of love. It is ironic to compare the damaged character of Sydney Carton to the holy Jesus Christ.  The song “Amazing Grace” commences with the lyrics “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.”  Sydney Carton can be viewed as the “wretch” referenced in the song, who was saved by the power of love.  As the song talks about transformation through the finding of grace, Carton’s soul was resurrected when he discovered love.   In addition,  by voluntarily sacrificing himself, our hero saved his loved ones as well as symbolically atoned for the evil deeds committed by humanity.  By choosing a vile character  to evolve into a Christlike figure, Charles Dickens shows the potential in all of us to make a monumental difference in the fight against evil and to help save humanity.

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