The role of Sydney Carton in Tale of Two Cities

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A Tale of Two Cities is a notable literary work by Charles Dickens. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of A Tale of Two Cities.


Sketch the character of Sydney Carton.

Or Critically comment on the death of Sydney Carton.

Or, What role does Sydney Carton Play in Tale of Two Cities?

Sydney Carton is one of the central characters in Charles Dickens’s novel the novel “ A Tale of Two Cities” (1859) by Charles Dickens (1812-1870). He is portrayed as a dissolute, cynical, and heavy drinker man. He is not more interested in his own life. He has a melancholic and indifferent outlook on the world, which is quite dissimilar to the other characters in the novel.

Appearance and Behaviour: Sydney Carton is described as a disorderly, careless man in the first part of the novel. He possesses untidy dark hair and a pale, weary face. His clothes are not decently. And his overall appearance reflects a sense of indifference to his well-being. He is seen as a man of melancholic expression.

Brilliant but Wasted Talent: Though Sydney used to lead a dissolute and simple lifestyle, he is an intelligent and talented person. He is a successful lawyer. However, his potential is destroyed because of his self-destructive manners.

Personality: In the novel’s beginning, we can see Sydney Carton is depicted as a gloomy and disillusioned man. He is not a highly ambitious person. He leads a purposeless life. He often seeks comfort in alcohol. He is known for his sharp wit and intelligence. Carton is deeply self-critical and bears a profound sense of self-loathing.

Professional Life: Carton is a skilled and well-educated lawyer, but he wastes his potential. Despite being capable of excellence, he chose to modest life. He symbolizes an indifferent outlook on life.

Selfless Love for Lucie: Carton’s love for Lucie is pure and selfless. Through his unrequited love for Lucie Manette, Darnay’s wife, he finds a reason to change his life. He says,

“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.”

Carton experiences an awakening of purpose and a desire for redemption.

Symbol of Resurrection: Sydney Carton is a symbol of resurrection. He converts from a wasted and dissolute man into a heroic figure and redeems himself through his utmost sacrifice by saving Darnay’s life from ultimate death.

Redemption and Sacrifice: The most illustrative part of Sydney Carton’s character is his journey towards redemption. He sacrifices his own life for the sake of others. In the climax scene of the novel, Carton exchanges places with Charles Darnay in the prison cell. Because they are physically alike. After the place replacement, he is imprisoned and faces execution. Thus, his self-sacrifice action creates an opportunity for Darnay to leave the guillotine and live with his family. This sacrifice is a powerful symbol of Carton’s redemption and his ultimate nobility.

In summary, Sydney Carton’s character in “A Tale of Two Cities” is a complex and multi-layered individual who transforms from a disillusioned and dissolute man into a selfless and heroic figure. His journey of redemption and sacrifice makes him one of the most memorable characters in literature.