Can a wasted life be redeemed by one final act of selflessness? According to Charles Dickens, the answer is a resounding "Yes"! Against the backdrop of the French Revolution, Dickens tells a tale of love and redemption as Sidney Carton, a hard drinking London Barrister, gives his life to save the life of the husband of the woman he loves.
The story starts as Lucy Manette finds that her father, whom she had long thought dead, was still alive and had just been released from the terrible French prison, the Bastille. He goes with her to settle in London and they meet a young French man, Charles Darnay. Darnay is soon to be accused of being a French spy and Lucy is called to testify at his trial. All seems lost for Darnay, until Sidney Carton, a young lawyer given to drink, comes up with a spectacular defense calling attention to the uncanny resemblance between himself and Darnay. Darnay is released. Both Darnay and Carton fall for the charms of Lucy Manette, and she marries Darnay. Carton understands her reasoning; he is a known drinker and scoundrel, but he swears his eternal love for her. Soon Lucy’s happy world is turned upside down by the French Revolution when it becomes known that Darnay is not merely a simple Frenchman; he is the nephew of the Marquis Evremonde, a French noble family accused of crimes by members of the French Revolution. Darnay, drawn back to France to come to the aid of one of his servants is arrested. The tension of the story is increased as it is revealed that the members of the Evremonde family were behind Dr. Manette’s long, unjust imprisonment. Finally, with Darnay scheduled to go to the guillotine, Sidney Carton gives Lucy his final gift of love. He makes plans to help Darnay escape from prison and takes his place in the cell, going to the guillotine for him. In the final scenes of the story, Carton is ascending the steps to the guillotine when he has a vision of the happy outcome of his sacrifice for the Manette family seeing his redemption in their happiness and in their loving memories of him.