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Foil Character

By imabobblehead Jun 23, 2013 691 Words
A Readers Perception of Sydney Carton

Honors English
2 November 2012

In A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens he presents Sydney Carton as an irrelevant character throughout the story. Sydney Carton is first illustrated to be a careless drunk. He is an attorney who can’t find the slightest bit of interest in anything he does. In the first few chapters, Carton comments about Lucie in a bitter way which leads to his initial feelings. The revealing of his feelings to Lucie sets the fundamental transition to the ultimate sacrifice that he makes at the end of the story.

In Charles’s Dickens A Tale of Two Cities, Sydney Carton’s function is to give the idea that people can change, even if you spend a life of wastefulness, it’s never too late to find a purpose. Initially, Carton is demonstrated as shady and pathetic; Jerry Cruncher even chooses to laugh at him. For example, he “summons no energy or purpose (95)”. Specifically, Charles Dickens emphasizes Sydney Carton’s apathy through foreshadowing, exemplified in the passage in which Carton manifest upon his hatred and jealousy towards Darnay, this shows the rivalry will make the plot intense. Lucie interprets Carton’s behavior as misunderstood because Carton, himself is motivated to reach his goal of finding purpose in life. However, by the end of the novel Carton is portrayed as a hero to save Charles’s Darnay from execution. By creating a character who resolves the conflicts that plague the story by him sacrificing himself for the person he loves. Dickens introduces the readers to the theme of inexplicableness and sacrificial decisions.

Symbolism plays a vital part in the story and understanding Sydney Carton’s character. In chapter 5, Carton’s character as a jackal, this is a person who is supposed to perform routine tasks for another. Carton is described as an amazingly good jackal. He is disappointed in himself because he understands he won’t be recognized for his performances. Carton’s motive to sacrifice himself was only acknowledged by Basard and the seamstress. He proves to himself that preservation is key because Lucie’s life is significant to him. Symbolism is shown in Carton’s character; Charles Dickens establishes more suspense with the use of foreshadowing. Foreshadowing shapes Carton’s fate in A Tale of Two Cities. An early illustration involves Carton’s discussion with Stryver about how he and Darnay look alike. Hours prior to Darnay’s execution, Carton successfully trades places with Darnay to save his life.

The mysterious theme of the story amplifies Carton’s new personality that grows within the chapters. Dickens emphasizes the rebirth of Carton’s personality when he is nowhere to be found after Charles Darnay is proven to be innocent. Dickens describes Carton as someone “…who had been leaning against the wall where its shadow was darkest... (88)”. While Darnay, Lucie, Lorry, Doctor Manette, and Stryver are having their conversation, Carton is at his height of being mysterious. At this point the readers can realize that Dickens gives them an insight to Cartons past. Although we never come to understand why Carton is the way he is, it’s not made clear even with Dickens background information on him. Carton believes he can “…see beyond the limited vision of others…” or “…say what others dare not to say” this shows he doesn’t care what anyone has to say, instead he chooses to be uninterested towards everyone because of the way that he feels.

The influence of other characters let the readers comprehend Sydney Carton in such a depth that at the end of the story they feel the grief when Carton dies. The reader is equally satisfied with the ending just as much as Carton would have. He died with a purpose, which is what he wanted his whole life. It was a tragic ending to an astonishing love story; it was the climax of Carton’s life but also the highlight for the readers to know each problem was resolved. Desolation was filled for the reader and the families that were tormented. Charles Dickens shaped a character that taught no matter how many mistakes were made in the past, you can always find a purpose in life.

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