Characters are human beings in a storyline that make up the mainstay of the story to depict beliefs, ideas, and concepts. Characters in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens depict his views and beliefs of the period in which he lived. The analysis of some of the major characters has been given below.
Characters in A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Darnay appears at the beginning of the novel and is one of the protagonists. A well-groomed and civilized young man, he becomes a model of English manners on account of his civility and refined manners. Darnay is a French aristocrat, but he rejects their system. He spends his time between France and England, eventually disassociating himself from the French aristocratic cruelty. He proves to be a mirror in the juxtaposition of the thematic strands sprawled in the novel.
Darnay meets Sydney Carton in the court and causes doubt to the jury due to similarities between them. As the main protagonist, Darnay also has heroic features that make him prominent among the rest of the characters. His heroism lies in saving Gabelle from certain death and facing the revolutionary jury with stoicism. Not only does he prove a true love but also a very loyal friend and a kind and generous hero throughout the novel.
As one of the dynamic characters of the novel, Sydney Carton is not only a drunkard but also a lazy lawyer whose main interest lies in drinking. He is aware of wasting his life and admits that he cares for nothing. Despite his inarticulacy at the beginning of the novel, he demonstrates his genuine love and true feelings for Lucie Manette. However, Lucie does not return his feelings and marries Charles Darnay. Carton, by the end of the novel, sacrifices his life for Charles Darnay. This final act of sacrifice may be considered a case of redemption on his part on account of wasting his own life. However, it seems that he becomes a Christ-like man, a martyr who takes care of the happiness of others sacrificing his own.
Doctor Manette or Alexandre Manette, Lucie’s father, is a mysterious character as stated by Jarvis Lorry. He learns about the torture of the Evermonde aristocratic family in France and is arrested for reporting them to the government. Like his character, his imprisonment in France stayed a mystery until the end. His task of passing his time in shoemaking in prison makes it known how he suffers from this cruel incarceration.
Monsieur Earnest Defarge
Owner of a wine shop in Paris, Monsieur Defarge, and his wife are strong supporters of the revolution. They keep Alexander Manette with them who have suffered incarceration for eighteen long years. Although he seems quite loyal to Manette, Defarge does this to inspire revolution among other patriots. Dr. Manette becomes a tool in his hand to malign the French aristocracy and propagate its torture. As a leader of the community, he leads the people when storming Bastille and finds Manette’s paper about his imprisonment and torturers. Torn apart between his love for his wife and care for Dr. Manette, he allows his family to leave France to protect them from the revolution.
Lucie is an epitome of the female characters, showing the best qualities. Despite being a minor character, she shows a link between other characters. She is doctor Alexandre Manette’s daughter who was brought up in England. As a loving and generous, Lucie extends her impacts on other characters with a spectacular conversation. Though she marries Charles Darnay by the end, Carton and Stryver vow to love her and even inspires Lorry and Pross to love her as their daughter. Lucie’s character does not develop much throughout the story, but she shows the best characteristics of a female character.
Madame Thérèse Defarge
Madame Thérèse Defarge is Earnest Defarge’s wife. She is a cruel and vindictive lady who exacts revenge against the Evermonde family. He revengeful nature forces her to pursue Lucie and Darnay and even their children. Thérèse does so to seek revenge against the Evermonde for the deaths of her relatives. Her rage, the arrogance of the Marquis and accidental death of a child a at Marquis’ hands play a major role in her destructive actions. She refuses to accept Darnay’s conversion to a good man and finally meets her end at the hands of Pross.
Mr. Lorry presents English virtue and manners through his eating etiquettes. He is an old man wearing good but inexpensive clothes and also shows his nature by wearing linen and symbolizing purity of heart. A calm and composed person, Mr. Lorry’s work at Tellson Bank has formalized his manners. He becomes very loyal and trustworthy for the Manette family, helping both the father and the daughter whenever they need.
Working as a porter in Tellson Bank in London, Jeremiah or Jerry Cruncher also works as a resurrection man. He helps the Manette family when he goes with Lucie and Jarvis to Paris and bring Dr. Manette back to England. He also proves a helping hand for Carton against Barsad. Although he is abusive and torturous toward his wife, by the end when leaving Paris, he becomes very gentle and vows to renounce grave-robbing job.
Miss Pross works as a maid for the Manettes, has raised Lucie Manette and accompanies her wherever she goes. She is fierce, loving and loyal and accidentally kills Madam Defarge to protect the family. She leaves Paris after Defarge dies and tries to stop Lucie from speaking against the republic. This shock makes her permanently deaf.
Marquis is Charles Darnay’s Uncle, a twin brother of Charles’ father, and a French aristocrat. His character demonstrates the role of the aristocracy and its conditions in France. His manners reveal his true cruel nature as he accidentally kills a child. Despite appearing in just three chapters, he leaves the last impression on the readers’ minds merely on account of his pitilessness, arrogance and brutal nature. Gaspard, the father of the child murdered by Marquis, kills him after one year of the child’s death.