A Tale Of Two Cities


Charles Dickens novels have a way of emphasizing characters more than they do plots. A Tale of Two Cities is no different. While the plot is interesting, it is the characters that make the story a classic. In light of this observation, there are three main characters that should be looked at as a point of interest. The first is Sydney Carton; an alcoholic attorney whose life is seemingly meaningless in the beginning of the book. The second is Lucie Manette, Sydney Carton’s love interest. Finally we will look at Madame Defarge, a quiet yet vicious revolutionary.

Sydney Carton

Some may actually be bold enough to describe Sydney Carton as humble. He sees his life as having no purpose and treats people as badly as he perceives himself. However, later on in the book, we see Sydney as having feelings after all. His love for Lucie Manette breaks through the numbness he feels—which makes for an interesting revelation when she is about to get married.

Lucie Manette

Lucie is an interesting character too. She may seem like the ideal family girl, but she is in fact more than that. She is characterized by her loyalty to her fiancé, but the book suggests that she harbours feelings for another type of person. The needy character of Sydney Carton has some strange appeal to Lucie, and she can’t help but wonder if she can bring out a better version of him.

Madame Defarge

Hurt by the tragedies of her life, Madame Defarge is vengeful to the point of madness. Though she seems quiet at the start of the book, when the revolution hits Paris, she springs into action and plays her part in it. She seems to have a particular hatred for Lucie Manette, and tries her hardest to catch her in the act of betrayal. However, as with most vengeful characters, self-destruction is sure to follow; and this is no different in the case of Madame Defarge.

Though some have criticized these characters as one-dimensional and dull, they do in fact form a part of each other’s dynamics. Charles Dickens made no apologies for the portrayal of these characters and as many agree, they all make the story more dramatic. Although the book is set in the French Revolution, it is not the politics that make for such an interesting classic—it is the characters.


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