This is the first literary critcism I wrote, so please read and comment.THX
| "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." is one of the most famous quotes used by Charles Dickens in all of his books. Charles Dickens' fiction novel, A Tale Of Two Cities contains a lot of symbolism and metaphorical meanings mixed together with past events in France and England. Dickens describes Lucie, one of the main characters, as being beautiful physically and spiritually, and possesses a gift for bringing out the best qualities of those around her including Dr. Manette and Sydney Carton. Although she is considered one of the flat and boring characters in the novel, Lucie is one of the most important ones. While Dickens' heavy use of symbolism displays significance in the novel, it is Lucie's symbolic portrayal as the "Golden Thread" which truly binds many of the characters together.
Lucie is believed to be the "Golden Thread" which nurtures her father back to a healthy physical and mental state. After being held in the Bastille for 18 years, Dr. Manette, Lucie's father, is unable to cope with the outside world. When Lucie meets him for the first time his voice seems like "it had lost the life and resonance of the human voice, that it affected the senses like a once beautiful colour faded away into a poor weak stain" (29). Dr. Manette looks like he lost all hope of his life and will just continue to make shoes. This contrasts to Lucie's visage described as bright, and fair. Lucie's presence "had warmed and lighted it [his cold white head] as though it were the light of freedom shining on him" (34). This presence shows that Lucie will not be affected by Dr. Manette's darkness in the room, but Dr. Manette will be the one to change his perspective on life and Lucie will help redeem him. "Among these terrors, and the brood belonging to them, the Doctor walked with a steady head: confident in his power, cautiously persistent in his end, never doubting that he would save Lucie's husband at last" (212). Because of Lucie's love and nurturing, none of these things make Dr. Manette slip into his past. He walks among these terrors with a steady heart, head, and hand along with Lucie by his side.
Dickens' descriptions of Lucie Manette's physical characteristics represent a symbolic, as well as a literal meaning of the "Golden Thread". Lucie's "golden hair, which she wore in long curls" (33) took the sight of Dr. Manette when they first met in the Defarge's Wine Shop. Dr. Manette's conversation with Lucie about her hair brought them closer together because Dr. Manette told her that her hair reminded him of his wife's. "Then, as the darkness closed in, the daughter laid her head down on the hard ground close at the father's side, and watched him. The darkness deepened and deepened, as they both lay quiet, until a light gleamed through the chinks in the wall" (36). The gleaming light shining in the room relates to Lucie's hair which gives shines light on Dr. Manette. It also represents pureness, and angelic qualities, which contrasts with the darkness of the room. Lucie's cradling of Dr. Manette's head shows her willingness to not give up on her father during his lapses. Lucie's beautiful, golden locks contributed to Dr. Manette's discovery of his only daughter and aided in his redemption.
Lucie's actions and influences on Sydney Carton rekindled a flame in him to start his life over. Lucie's optimistic side shows sympathy for Carton even though he's an alcoholic whose career and life went downhill. "‘I am sure that the best part of it might still be; I am sure that you might be much, much worthier of yourself'" (115). Lucie showed compassion for Carton and encouraged him to better himself. She made him realize that he had an urge for self-sacrifice. Carton's promise to Lucie by sacrificing anything for her or anyone dear to her, including Darnay, was the key to redeeming himself by fulfilling the promise he made to her. "‘But, I am sure that he is capable of good things, gentle things, even magnanimous things'" (161). Lucie feels that Carton is a deeper person with a bigger heart than he shows himself to be. She believes he has the power to change his drunken ways and still do good.
The symbol that identifies Lucie is the "Golden Thread" which ties together many of the characters in the novel. Although many readers believe she is an irrelevant character, it is her actions towards the ones she loves that give the book a complete ending. Dickens portrayal of Lucie as a compassionate, virtuous woman who inspires great love and loyalty in the other characters, demonstrates how powerful these qualities can be, even in the face of violence and hatred.