Unfairness of Imprisonment in “A Tale of Two Cities”

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Normally, when a crime is committed there are proper steps followed to ensure that justice is found. For those who received injustice, are either guilty and found innocent or innocent and found guilty. Unfortunately, in A Tale of Two Cities, written by the infamous Charles Dickens, there are three obvious characters that are affected by the unfairness of imprisonment: Dr. Manette, Charles Darnay, and Sydney Carton.

For starters, half of Dr. Manette’s life was taken from him without reason and he suffered psychologically. Similarly, a wrongfully imprisoned man named Anthony Ray Hinton was incarcerated for almost 30 years. He relied on his imagination while incarcerated, “[let his] mind travel. [He] visited the Queen; and married Halle Berry” (Hinton, 2016, p. 5).

Hinton escaped from reality through his mind, it was his defense mechanism against the darkness of prison. Manette, on the other hand, blocked out every person that he loved, which became his defense mechanism even after his imprisonment ended. Manette’s way of coping with hardships was unhealthy; His psyche could not handle the affliction, and because of his imprisonment he shut down emotionally and learned to block out anything that could cause him pain. He created a false reality for his mind to protect himself, similarly to Hinton.

Although Manette was fictional and Hinton was not, Hinton experienced the same thing “[when released he] couldn’t take it in: [being] locked up for nearly 30 years, nothing is the same” (Hinton, 2016, p. 9).

Equally important, Darnay’s story was a back and forth battle between life and death. He was stuck in an internal battle that faced his possible death, the pain that could have come with it, and the thought of never living his life again. There was no constant that kept him balanced. He went without a routine for so long that he left his fate in the hands of others completely. Handing over control was a way of giving up hope.“Hayes and Blaw suggest that prison [can affect the psyche]. These include: fear of the unknown … lack of apparent control over the future, [and] isolation from family.” (Delhi Psychiatry Journal)

The epitome of ‘fear of the unknown’ is waiting for one’s impending death, which is what Darnay was facing.

What Dickens described through Carton is a person that replicated people of the future who have become desensitized with the reality of their feelings. Just like many in today’s society Carton faces self-loathing, depression, and even worthlessness. Subsequently putting himself in a mental blockade guarding himself against all of his emotional demons. A man named Charl F. Mijnhardt describes depression as a prison with an indefinite sentence, even going as far as to say that he wondered if his prison would also be where he dies.

Even though, all of the characters in A Tale of Two Cities were fictional and led to a plot in a fictional story they hold a truth in the present day. In today’s society, there are no keys to the cages so many people are locked in whether they are physical or imaginary. Dickens clearly shows that even if one is incarcerated and freed there are infinite ramifications. Meaning that even if one finds a key that might lead to a more peaceful place there will “… be another iron door in the series that was barred between him [and freedom]”.

Cite this paper

Unfairness of Imprisonment in “A Tale of Two Cities”. (2021, Dec 24). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/unfairness-of-imprisonment-in-a-tale-of-two-cities/

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