War seems to test the limits of all sorts of ties. Loyalty to family, friends, and even the institutions in which you believe suddenly comes into question. Just how much are you willing to sacrifice for the good of the nation? Does the nation come before your family? Before your own life? In A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens forces his characters into situations which demand answers to exactly these questions. As we see, there aren’t ever any simple answers – and, in massive social uproar, there’s rarely a time when anyone emerges unharmed. Characters learn how to honor the promises and the relationships which matter to them, even when those promises seem impossible to uphold.
Mr. Lorry’s refusal to be completely devoted to business becomes an allegory for the good-heartedness of the British people as a whole.
In A Tale of Two Cities, religion becomes nothing more than a punch line for Dickens’s jokes: economics, not morality, will prevent a revolution in England.