”A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens Essay
Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website!
Throughout A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens tells the story of several characters, all of who are developed continuously throughout the chapters. Several of the characters are greatly developed, some showing unpredictable sides to their personalities. Sydney Carton is a prime example of such a character, his delicate personality revealed when he declares his love for Lucie. He is not the only character in love with Lucie, however. Throughout Book Two, it is revealed that Stryver and Charles Darnay are also coveting Lucie.
Darnay and Carton both announce their love for her, however Carton is the only one who goes directly to Lucie to tell her. In this passage, Carton is asking Lucie to not forget him and to remember that even when she is married and with kids, he will always be there for her to keep her happy. Carton’s declaration of his love for Lucie not only reveals his love and foreshadows his selfless, noble act in the later chapters, but in addition, Dickens’ use of language reveals that Sydney is no longer the “jackal,” but that he is in fact much more than that – a sensitive man with deep emotions.
Dickens’ use of language in this passage brings to light the sincerity in Sydney Carton, changing the mood of the reader towards him, and the words that Dickens uses to make Carton express himself allows Carton to truly show his desire for Lucie. When Carton says, “for you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything,” Dickens is emphasizing the fact that Carton is dedicated to her. Throughout the passage, he continuously repeats phrases including the word you, such as when he states “I would embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you.” As a result of emphasizing Carton’s love for Lucie, Dickens creates an immense feeling of sympathy for the reader, as the dedication for Lucie is expressed so eloquently. The fact that Carton accepts this unrequited love by saying “I will relieve you of a visitor with whom I well know you have nothing in unison, and between whom and you there is an impassable space” creates even more compassion for Carton because even though it is known that Lucie does not reciprocate his feelings, it is even more painful to watch as he simply walks away from the woman he loves.
In addition to uncovering Carton’s true love for Lucie, Dickens uses irony to show the eloquent Carton that contrasts with the drunken Carton of the previous chapters. The chapter to which this passage belongs to is titled “The Fellow of No Delicacy,” which is ironic because although perhaps Carton was not delicate in the preceding chapters, in this passage he is nothing but eloquent and delicate. He remarks “try to hold me in your mind, at some quiet times, as ardent and sincere in this one thing,” a great example of his eloquence, which once again causes the reader to develop sympathy for him, since the language he is using so differs from his previous drunken language ï¨203). Carton’s eloquence really shines through in this passage, even though it contrasts with the chapter title and Dickens creates sympathy and tenderness towards Sydney Carton.
Because Sydney Carton is put down, not only by others but by himself as well, throughout the entire first half of the second book, when he declares his love for Lucie in such an unselfish and loving manner, it changes how Carton is viewed. Since Stryver takes all the credit for being successful even though Carton does all the work, it is written, “…although Sydney Carton would never be a lion, he was an amazingly good jackal” ï¨116). Carton even describes himself to Darnay as “I am a disappointed drudge, sir I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me,” exhibiting Carton’s own self-pity and sadness for the world ï¨113). However, with this passage, Sydney Carton causes any reader to fully disregard any judgments made for his character. Dickens previously portrayed him as this unfortunate man without anything to live for, but now it is revealed that Carton does indeed have someone to live for – Lucie and her happiness. This passage causes all previous opinions about Sydney Carton to be discarded, as now Sydney Carton is no longer the jackal, but he has turned into the lion.
In addition to revealing the compassionate and eloquent side of Sydney Carton, this passage is also a moment of foreshadowing for Carton’s noble and unselfish act of sacrificing himself for Lucie’s happiness. What may have seemed to be just talk about how much he loved Lucie turned out to be very, very real. In this passage, Carton declares to Lucie, “…think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you” ï¨204). In his last moments, Carton visualizes Lucie feeling that “each was not more honoured and held sacred in the other’s soul, than I was in the souls of both,” referring to the respect and recognition that both Darnay and Lucie give to Carton ï¨500). In this passage, Carton sets up his feelings for her, perhaps knowing that someday he would have the chance to occupy a special place in Lucie’s heart for a noble, heroic act. His “sacrifice for you and for those dear to you” embodies the Charles Dickens’ theme of love overpowering everything.
With love, Carton was able to have the strength to sacrifice his life for the happiness of one person he cared about. With love, not jealousy, he was able to ask Darnay, “I wish we might be friends” ï¨275). While Lucie does not reciprocate Carton’s love, she does defend him in front of Darnay, declaring “I would ask you…to be very generous with him always…I would ask you to believe that he has a heart he very, very seldom reveals, and that there are deep wounds in it” ï¨278). By Carton declaring his love for Lucie and being wholly devoted to her, he is not only able to give Lucie a complete family, safe and protected in England, but he is also able to say that “it is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known,” clearly displaying that through his death, he is gaining all the love and admiration he never had before ï¨500).
Sydney Carton is my favorite character of the entire novel. His noble act despite the unrequited love between him and Lucie is such an honorable action, and the fact that he kept true to his word about giving his life “to keep a life you love beside you” makes him all the more noble ï¨204). I thought that this passage was really a turning point for Sydney Carton’s character, since up to that point he had been very reserved and inarticulate, but when he went to speak to Lucie he became this eloquent speaker, driven by a strong love. From then on, we continue to see Carton’s character develop, creatively seeking out the apothecary for the substances in order for the plan to work.
He acted without a moment’s hesitation, and that “[his face] was the peacefullest man’s face ever beheld there” shows that he had absolutely no regrets about his sacrifice ï¨4ï¹ï¹). To be that calm when he is about to be the newest victim of the Guillotine is a daunting task in itself, but to have someone who would sacrifice his or her life just for someone else’s happiness is beyond imaginable. Therefore, this passage sets the stage for Carton’s ultimate sacrifice, making Carton no longer a “disappointed drudge,” but a noble hero who goes from being a friend to Darnay and the Manettes to becoming their savior. There is no greater sacrifice that Carton could have made, and for it all to be because he loved Lucie unconditionally is a pretty incredible thing.