The Metamorphosis of Sydney Carton

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Sydney Carton, “one of Dickens’s most loved and best-remembered characters” (Stout 29), is not just another two-dimensional character; he seems to fly off the pages and into real life throughout all the trials and tribulations he experiences. He touches many hearts, and he even saves the life of Charles Darnay, a man who looks surprisingly similar to him. In Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, Sydney Carton is a selfish man of habit, a cynic, a self-loathing drunk, and an incorrigible barrister until he meets Lucie Manette; throughout the novel Sydney is overcome by his noble love for Lucie and transforms from a cynic to a hero as he accomplishes one of the most selfless acts a man can carry out. The elusive Sydney Carton is depicted as a “man of habit” (Sims 229-220). Because Carton is such a habitual man, it gives his character a sense of stability and, therefore, gives the novel a sense of stability also. Some readers even conclude that Carton’s habitual patterns contribute to him sacrificing his life. When he takes the place of Charles Darnay, he “brings to light the stability and constancy of his character initially occluded by his socially inappropriate or ‘elusive qualities’” (Sims 221). Sydney Carton views the world through the eyes of a cynic. He presumes that the world is an evil place and that nothing exceptional will ever come of it or of him. This way of thinking goes back all the way to his days at Shrewsbury when Sydney is just a young boy. Sydney is highly uncompetitive by nature; therefore, he is constantly taken advantage of. Even as a schoolboy, he has the habit of allowing others to use him; he always does the exercises for the other boys instead of his own. This habit sticks with him all throughout... ... middle of paper ... ...ce within himself. Now, he is “the one great heroic character to be found in the works of Charles Dickens” (Petch 28), and just like he envisions, his story will live on forever. Works Cited Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. London: Chapman and Hall, 1859. King, Florence. “Revenge on the Nerd.” National Review 44.15 (1992): 56. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. Petch, Simon. “The Business of the Barrister in A Tale of Two Cities.” Criticism 44.1 (2002): 27. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Mar. 2014. Sims, Jennifer S. “Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities.” Explicator 63.4 (2005): 219-222. Academic Search Premier. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. Stout, Daniel. “Nothing Personal: The Decapitation of Character in A Tale of Two Cities.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 41.1 (2007): 29-52. Literary Reference Center. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.

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