A Tale of Two Cities Characters Analysis

Sydney Carton

Sydney Carton is the most vigorous character in the novel A Tale of Two Cities. At the beginning of the novel, he appears to be a drunk and lazy lawyer who aggregates a little concentration in his life. For him, his existence is nothing but supreme waste and claim that he does not care for anything or anyone. However, the readers realize that there is a deep feeling inside Sidney Carton that he wants to articulate it but is unable to do.

Though, in his conversation with Charles Darnay, who has been recently proved guiltless, comments about Lucie. However, his tone was sardonic and bitter and let down his growing interest and developing feelings for Lucie. Ultimately, he gathers courage and confesses his feelings for Lucie to her. Unknowing that Lucie and Darnay are soon going to marry, he proposes his love for Lucie and also claims that he is not worthy of her. This event changes the life of Sidney Carton and makes the basis for the sacrifice that Sidney makes for Lucie at the end of the novel.

Madame Defarge

Holding an act of ruthless revenge, Madame Defarge symbolizes the turmoil of the French Revolution. In the initial chapter of the novel, the readers find her sitting in the chair of the wine shop, knitting quietly. Nevertheless, her outward inactiveness contradicts her persistent desire for revenge. Along with her knitting the clothes, she also knits the names of her revolutionary enemies in her “mental register.”

The real wildness of Madame Defarge is shown when Revolution breaks with the full force. The way terror and chaos destroy Paris, Madame Defarge turns on Lucy and invades both the physical and psychological space of Lucie. At first, she enlists the name of Lucie and her memory into the register of people who are meant to die in the Revolution. She then breaks into Lucie’s apartment to see Lucie mourning the death of her husband, Charles Darnay and then kills her.

Dickens points out that the ruthlessness and hatefulness of Madame Defarge are not inherent but is the result of suffering, oppression, and tragedy she faced at the hand of Evremondes. Though Lucie and Charles Darnay have not done any harm to her, they both are related to Evremondes: Darnay by blood and Lucie by marriage. But still, Dickens does not approve the retributive policies of justice of Madame Defarge, and therefore the readers do not feel any sympathy for her.

Charles Darnay (A.K.A. Charles Evrémonde)

After renouncing his connection with the Evremondes, Charles Darnay abandons his family and position as the French aristocrat and goes to England. Though Darnay supports the revolutionary ideal of human liberty, he is not a radical revolutionary like French masses. He symbolizes the middle position between the mistreatment practiced by the aristocracy and the lethal anger displayed by the revolutionaries.

Charles Darnay displays a heroic character of obligation and justice when trying to help the oppressed peasants and endangers his own life by helping Gabelle. But Charles also deceives himself by thinking that he can change the power and make the Revolution a positive change in France. Moreover, Charles is not able to see the potential of Sidney Carton and is guided by his wife, Lucie, to believe in the potential of Sidney Carton. Darnay is the representative of virtuous but imperfect humanity.

Lucie Manette

She is the daughter of Dr. Alexandre Manette and wife of Charles’ Darnay. She resurrects or restores her father back to life after eighteen years of imprisonment. She has the qualities of devotion, innocence, and enduring love. In the novel, she is the main figure which symbolizes goodness and laces a “golden thread” that binds together an essential group of people against the cruel forces of politics and history. She also displays religious faith. She believes in Sydney Carton when no one else believes in him. It is her kindness that inspires Sidney for his utmost deed of sacrifice.

Dr. Alexandre Manette

He is an accomplished physician who lived in France and has been imprisoned for 18 years in Bastille. The unjustified imprisonment makes him lose his mind. He embodies a horrible psychological shock of oppression from subjugation. Lucie’s love “resurrects” or restores him to his life. Manette also represents the idea that suffering can also turn into a strength. When he goes back to Paris to rescue his son in law, he gains the authoritative position in the French Revolution. To return Charles Darnay’s favor of resurrection, Manette saved him in the trial. But his old letters again lead to Charles’ execution. He ultimately becomes a tragic figure and falls into madness. The life of Manette shows that individuals are always entrapped in the strong forces of history.

Monsieur Defarge

He is the former servant of Dr. Mannete and smuggles him from the prison. He owns a wine shop that he uses to organize the revolutionaries of the French Revolution. Monsieur Defarge, like his wife Madame Defarge, is aggressively dedicated to dethroning dictatorship and retaliating discrimination. However, he does not support his wife’s planning to kill Lucie Manette. Due to this characteristic of mercy, Defarge becomes a symbol of the French Revolution that failed. The revolution lost its vision and turned into terror and chaos.

Jarvis Lorry

With the development of the plot of the novel, the character of Jarvis Lorry changes from a purely pragmatic and minding-one’s-own-business to an intense and loyal person who devotes his life to protect the family of Dr. Manette and thus become a member of Manette’s family. When Mr. Lorry first meets with Lucie, he asserts that “I had no feelings and that all relationships I hold with my fellow-creatures are mere business relations.”

Indeed, Mr. Lorry is a dedicated and hardworking employee who, on behalf of the bank, risks his life by making a dangerous journey to France. He explains his decision by saying that “if I were not prepared to submit to a few inconveniences for the sake of Tellson’s, after all these years, who ought to be?” however, his actions strongly contradict his words. He time and again claims that he is only concerned with his business; he shows great love and affection to the Manette’s family. It is Lorry who helps Dr. Manette when he lapses into madness after Lucie’s marriage.

He explains the episode to Dr. Manette by saying that he is narrating the case of a hypothetical patient. The end of the life or Mr. Lorry is described in the vision of Sidney Carton as “the good old man, so long their friend, in ten years’ time, enriching them with all he has, and passing tranquility to his reward.” The character of Mr. Lorry symbolizes the life of someone who lives conferring on the integrity and principles of both personal and professional life.

Jerry Cruncher

He is a worker of Tellson’s Bank. He is a short-tempered, gruff, illiterate, and uneducated person. He has the second source of his earnings by doing a job of a “Resurrection-Man.” He digs up the graves and sells the dead bodies to a scientist for experiments.

Miss Pross

She is Lucie’s maid who raised her. She is a tough, gruff, and loyal servant. As she is a symbol of loyalty and order, she is a foil to Madame Defarge – the one who is an epitome of chaos and disorder.

Marquis Evrémonde

He is the French aristocrat and the uncle of Charles Darnay. He is the embodiment of inhumanity and supports the brutal caste system. He displays no sign of humanity in the novel and wants all peasants of the world to terminate.

Mr. Stryver

He is a determined lawyer. He wants to climb the social ladder by marrying Lucie Manette. He is a proud, bombastic, and foolish person.

John Barsad or Roger Cly

John Barsad and Roger Cly are the same person but switch their roles according to the need of the situation. In England and France both, he swears to be loyal to the state, and all his actions are inspired by patriotism. He spies for the British under the name Roger Cly, while in Paris is named as John Barsad. He claims to a person of a high reputation. However, he is involved in crafty planning.

Gabelle

He is the servant of Evremondes and is charged with the allegation of keeping the estate of Evremondes after the death of Marquis Evremonde. The revolutionaries imprisoned him, and he wrote a letter to Charles Darnay for him. This letter makes Darnay visit France and save him.

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