The most interesting and significant character in A tale of two cities is Sydney Carton, the man who has achieved a moral status because he was a sacrificing man. Jerry appears as a clown, while Madame Garange appears too cold and callous to be admired. Carlton is someone unique.
Unlike Garange and Jerry, Carlton has a character. He is extraordinary because he is reckless before turned out into a hero among the three. The author Charles Dickens, showed Sydney Carton as an alcoholic in the beginning of his novel, A tale of two cities. Carton was a man of no import, because he did not realize the meaning of his life and therefore had no worthy goal.
At the same time, the man loves Lucie Manette very much, and for her he sacrifices his own life. By these means, Carton is raised to the status of a moral man or a gentleman, while Charles Darnay, who looks very much like Carton but is perhaps less than him in terms of moral worth, does not raise himself to an astounding height despite the fact that he was a man of goals. Carton, therefore, appears to be the most forceful, even revolutionary character in Dickens’ novel.
While Defarge is also a revolutionary, and a female besides, with her grudge against somebody or the other, Carton is one of the central characters of the book anyway. The novel tells the tale of the French Revolution through the lives of Carton and Darnay who both love Manette. Thus, it is more important for the reader to focus on the life and the mind of Carton. Defarge and Jerry are perhaps not as important in terms of character development.
Carton catches attention because his life is rather dynamic and most interesting to study. Dicken’s exploration of Carton’s character in the latter’s movement and words is quite fascinating. Carton used to be an alcoholic lawyer who was very bored with life. He is a thoughtful person, though he cannot express himself as he truly deserves to. He communicates to Darnay his feelings for Manette although he guards his true feelings of tenderness for her.
His love for the lady seems to be growing, but he shows himself to be critical and cynical instead. Ultimately there comes a time when Carton is able to express his feelings for Lucie to her face. He does this right before the marriage of Lucie and Darnay. Carton cannot marry her mainly because he views himself as an essentially useless human being. Despite his low self esteem and sense of self, at the time that the man professes his love to the lady, a foundation is laid for the ultimate sacrifice that Carton truly turned out to be capable of.
In actuality, therefore, the man had been saving his energy for the supreme act of devotion. Perhaps the most significant fact about Carton’s life is that he went to the guillotine a free man. He was not afraid to sacrifice himself for a loved one. Instead, he went to paradise based on his faithfulness to the concept of ‘loving thy neighbor.’ Dickens tells us that Carton saw Paris (or Paradise) as a wonderful place “rising from the abyss.”
The man also sees “the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out.” Thus, Carton’s death makes a positive way for the culmination of the French Revolution. Indeed, A tale of two cities is a unique piece of literature, somewhat like Tolstoy’s War and Peace, telling the story of a real important live event in the lives of ordinary people. Both books are equally remembered and held as classics. And, people like Carton and Natasha (from War and Peace) are equally fascinating, valuable, and unforgettable.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. London: Chapman and Hall, 1859.