Character Summary Charles Darnay English Literature Essay

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The portrayal of Charles Darnay's eyes as dark seems to imply that he probably has a secret within. Also, when his condition in the courtroom is described to be like that of a young gentleman, it seems like he was very elegant. He is considered to be well bred when he is described as "well-grown". Also, he is seen to be immaculate by the way he ties his hair. It appears like he does want to show that he does not care about himself or the way he looks. Overall, the physical description of Darnay makes him appear to be sophisticated and very cultured.


"He was otherwise quite self-possessed, bowed to the judge and stood quite" (p. 70). This action shows how poised and composed Darnay is.

"His resolution was made. He must go to Paris" (p. 240). This resolution and his ultimate journey to Paris to save his old family servant, Gabelle displays his courage and how responsible he felt towards the people around him.

It was a hard matter to preserve the innocent deceit of which they were profoundly unsuspicious. But, an affectionate glance at his wife, so happy and busy, made him resolute not to tell her what impended (he had been half-moved to do it, so strange it was to him to act in anything without her quiet aid), and the day passed quickly away. Early in the evening he embraced her, and her scarcely less dear namesake, pretending he would return by and by (an imaginary engagement took him out, and he had secreted a valise of clothes ready), and so he emerged into the heavy mist of the heavy street, with a heavier heart" (p. 242). The fact that he felt strange not telling Lucie about what he was going to do shows how honest he was before, towards her. Additionally, the embrace he made to Lucie displays his love for her along with the "heavier heart" he had when he left the family for Paris.

Charles Darnay appears to be a good man due to his actions. He is seen as a cultured, poised and dignified man just by the way he stands in the courtroom. He proves his courage in his decision to return to Paris at great personal risk to save the imprisoned Gabelle. He also shows his sense of responsibility when he tries to help his old family servant. Darnay was used to Lucie's quiet aid in anything he did which means that he tried not to hide anything from her. This shows his honest behavior. Also, when Darnay embraces his wife and later emerged "into the heavy mist of the heavy street, with a heavier heart", he appears to be guilty of not telling Lucie about what he was going to do. It also displays his intense love for her.


"I would abandon it, and live otherwise and elsewhere. It is little to relinquish. What is it but a wilderness of misery and ruin?" (p.129). With this statement, Darnay displays great virtue in his rejection of the snobbish and cruel values of his uncle, the Marquis Evrémonde.

"Your confidence in me ought to be returned with full confidence on my part. My present name, thought but slightly changed from my mother's, is not as you will remember, my own. I wish to tell you what that is, and why I am in England" (p. 140). His decision to tell Manette of his real identity before even marrying Lucie displays his honesty.

"I am deeply sorry to have been the cause of it. Could you tell her so for me, with my fervent acknowledgements" (p. 85). The way Darnay speaks itself displays how polished, cultured and sophisticated he is.

Darnay, though a French aristocrat by birth displays great virtue when he renounces his uncle's property in front of his uncle, Marquis Evrémonde. It shows that he was aware of the pain his family was inflicting to the poor which is why after the death of his uncle, he starts his life over by becoming a French tutor. Charles exhibits an admirable honesty in his decision to reveal to Doctor Manette his true identity as a member of the infamous Evrémonde family before he marries Lucie. The way Darnay talks itself shows that he was a well-bred man and that he thought carefully before saying what he wanted to say. One example of this was when he apologizes to Carton for the distress Lucie experienced in the courtroom. He even asks him to send his "fervent acknowledgements" to her. In conclusion, Darnay displays his honesty and sophistication by his speech. His speech also shows great virtue when he rejects the cruel values of his uncle.


"The latent uneasiness in Darnay's mind was roused to vigorous life by this letter. The peril of an old servant and a good one, whose only crime was fidelity to himself and his family, stared him so reproachfully in the face that, as he walked to and fro in the Temple considering what to do, he almost hid his face from the passers-by" (p. 239). This shows that he still felt guilty for his family's action even though he had renounced everything related to his family.

"His latent uneasiness had been that bad aims were being worked out in his own unhappy land by bad instruments, and that he could not fail to know that he was better than they, was not there, trying to do something to stay blood-shed, and assert the claims of mercy and humanity" (p. 240). This reflection by Charles shows that he was obliged to do his moral duty.

"The intention with which he had done what he had done, even although he had left it incompleted, presented it before him in an aspect that would be gratefully acknowledged in France on his presenting himself to assert it. Then, that glorious vision of doing good, which is so often the sanguine mirage of so many good minds, arose before him, and he even saw himself in the illusion with some influence to guide this raging Revolution that was running so fearfully wild" (p. 240). This thought shows that Darnay did not feel any danger when he decided to go to Paris. Instead, he thought that when he asserts his renunciation of his family's title, he would be gratefully acknowledged in France.

Hence, Charles thought that going to Paris to save his old family Servant was the right thing to do as the only crime that the old servant committed was "fidelity to himself and his family". They were an honorable set of reflections as he felt obliged to do his moral duty. After he made the decision to go to Paris, he thought about how he would be "gratefully acknowledged" by renouncing his family's title publicly. He went so on to think that after doing good, he might eventually be able to guide the Revolution itself. This shows that he thought of no danger of going back to Paris. However, we see later that he in fact was arrested in revolutionary France, and tried twice. Additionally, the uneasiness he felt when he thought about his old servant was arrested shows that he still feels responsible and perhaps guilty of the arrest.

Attitudes of others

"The prisoner was as open in his confidence with me- which arose us out of my helpless situation-as he was kind, and useful to my father" (p. 79). This shows that Lucie regarded Darnay as a very nice and caring man.

"Indeed! You are a pretty fellow to object and advise!" (p. 233). This indicates that according to Mr. Lorry, all opinions of Charles Darnay mattered.

"Do you particularly like the man?" he muttered, at his own image. "Why should you particularly like a man who resembles you? There is nothing in you to like; you know that. Ah confound you! What a change you have made in yourself! A good reason for talking to a man, that he shows you what you have fallen away from, and what you might have been! Change places with him, and would you have been looked at by those blue eyes as he was, and commiserated by that agitated face as he was? Come on, and have it out in plain words! You hate the fellow" (p. 91). This thought indicates that Sydney despised Darnay.

According to Lucie's statement in the courtroom when Darnay was being tried, Darnay was very kind, caring and helpful. Mr. Lorry's speech indicated that Darnay was an important man and that all his opinions mattered. This is an opposite of what Stryver told to Sydney (his opinions were of no importance). This difference along with the added addition that Sydney and Darnay looked so much alike was probably the reason why Sydney Carton was jealous of Darnay and really hated him. Overall, these thoughts show that Darnay was kind towards other people, whatever he thought mattered and that Carton was probably not that fond of him.

Character- Sydney Carton


a. Carton is described as unkempt when he has his "torn gown half off him, his untidy wig put on just as it had happened to light on his head after its removal" (p. 83).

b. Carton is also described as careless when "he had his hands behind him under the skirts of his riding- coat, and he stood at Mr. Cruncher's elbow as negligently as he might have stood at the Old Bailey itself" (p. 293).

c. Again, Sydney Carton is described as unkempt "with his long brown hair, all untrimmed, hanging loosely about him" (p. 305).

d. The depiction of Sydney Carton seems to convey his careless/reckless attitude with his messy hair and disheveled clothing. The torn gown and untidy wig shows that he does not care what people think about him. His disorderly hair along with his clothes also displays his negligence that he is shown towards his appearance. Even in the way he stands, Carton appears to be very unpolished and unsophisticated. The phrase "he stood at Mr. Cruncher's elbow" seems to imply that compared to Jerry Cruncher, Carton was very short. Overall, Carton's physical appearance shows that he is a very careless and inelegant man in the book.


a. Sydney is portrayed as an alcoholic when "he resorted to his pint of wine for consolation, drank it all in a few minutes, and fell asleep on his arms" (p. 91).

b. "Mr. Carton, who had so long sat looking at the ceiling of the court, changed neither in place nor his attitude, even in this excitement. This one man sat leaning back…his hands in his pockets, and his eyes on the ceiling as they had been all day" (p. 83). Carton is thus regarded as unsocial.

c. "Quickly, but with hands as true to the purpose as his heart was, Carton dressed himself in the clothes the prisoner had laid aside, combed back his hair, and tied it with the ribbon the prisoner had worn" (p. 345). Despite his negligent/careless attitude, Carton now willingly changes places with the doomed noble (Charles Darnay) and is later put to death.

d. Sydney Carton's actions (when he drinks wine for consolation and just sat in the court with his eyes on the ceiling the whole time) shows that Carton is an alcoholic and unsocial and probably lives a life of solitude. This depiction along with his torn gown and untidy wig gives Carton a disreputable look. However, when he willingly switches places with Darnay in the prison, fully aware of the result, Sydney starts to show a new side in his personality. This switch that eventually puts him under the La Guillotine makes him morally surpass the man to whom he bears a striking physical resemblance and earn the respect in society.


a. "I am a disappointed drudge, sir. I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me" (p. 91). This statement by Carton said to Darnay shows that Carton believes he is not needed in this world for anything.

b. "If it had been possible, Miss Manette, that you could have returned the love of the man you see before you-self-flung away, wasted, drunken, poor creature of misuse as you know him to be-he would have been conscious this day and hour, in spite of his happiness, that he would bring you to misery, bring you to sorrow and repentance, blight you, disgrace you, pull you down with him. I know very well that you can have no tenderness for me; I ask for none; I am even thankful that it cannot be" (p. 154). This statement also shows that Carton does not regard highly of himself and feels that he is not even at the same level as Miss Manette.

c. "If you could endure to have such a worthless fellow, and a fellow of such indifferent reputation, coming and going at odd times, I should ask that I might be permitted to come and go as a privileged person here; that I might be regarded as useless (and I would add, if it were not for the resemblance I detected between you and me), an unornamental furniture, tolerated for its old service, and taken no notice of" (p. 207). Once again, Carton's statement seems to show he is worthless and his life is probably a big waste.

d. Carton, while talking to Darnay and Lucie at different times describes his existence as a supreme waste of life and takes every opportunity to declare that he cares for nothing and no one. This displays his pessimistic attitude and the reason why he is unsocial. In his speech with Lucie, he declares his love for her but asks nothing in return. Instead, he goes on to say that he is not even at the same status as Lucie and if she married him, her life would also be insignificant just like his. To Darnay, he just asks if he could come and go in the house (probably so he could see Lucie) and asks no attention in return. He regards himself as "an unornamental furniture, tolerated for its own service, and taken no notice of". Overall, his description of himself in his speech with Lucie and Darnay goes on to show that he is persistent in seeing himself as essentially worthless.


a. "Do you particularly like the man?" he muttered, at his own image. "Why should you particularly like a man who resembles you? There is nothing in you to like; you know that. Ah confound you! What a change you have made in yourself! A good reason for talking to a man, that he shows you what you have fallen away from, and what you might have been! Change places with him, and would you have been looked at by those blue eyes as he was, and commiserated by that agitated face as he was? Come on, and have it out in plain words! You hate the fellow" (p. 91). Hence, Sydney's thoughts about Charles show that he is jealous of who and what Darnay is.

b. "I thought [Darnay] was rather a handsome fellow, and I thought I should have been much the same sort of fellow, if I had had any luck" (p. 94). Sydney thinks that could have been just like Darnay if he had not wasted his life and had been lucky.

c. "When he awoke and was afoot again, he lingered there yet a little longer, watching an eddy that turned purposeless, until the stream absorbed it, and carried it on to the sea.-Like me!" (p. 309-310). With this thought, Cartons feels that his life is pointless and a waste.

d. In his thoughts about Darnay, Carton feels a certain pang of jealousy when he sees what he could have been if he had just worked harder. This can be seen in the first two quotes mentioned above. Instead, he regards his life as worthless and pointless comprehended when he sees the "eddy that turned purposeless, until the steam absorbed it". Further, the steam that had absorbed the eddy and carried it on to the sea probably conveys that his love for Lucie is what made his life purposeful too by laying the foundation for the supreme sacrifice that he made at the novel's end. Hence, in his thoughts, just like his speech, he thinks of himself as insignificant. In addition, he envies his doppelganger Darnay as it hurts him to see how better his life could have been.

Attitudes of others

a. "Now don't let me announcement of the name make you uncomfortable, Sydney", said Mr. Stryver, preparing him with ostentatious friendliness for the disclosure he was about to make, "because I know you don't mean half you say; and if you meant it at all, it would be of no importance. I think this little preface, because you once mentioned the young lady to me in slightest terms" (p. 143). These words said by Stryver to Carton convey that whatever Carton says is of "no importance".

b. " When [Carton] was gone, and in the course of an evening passed with Miss Pross, the Doctor, and Mr. Lorry, Charles Darnay made some mention of this conversation in general terms, and spoke of Sydney Carton as a problem of carelessness and recklessness" (p. 207). Hence, Charles regards Carton in a negative way by saying that he is careless and reckless.

c. "I think, Charles, poor Mr. Carton deserves more consideration and respect than you expressed for him tonight…I would ask you to believe that [Carton] has a heart he very, very seldom reveals, and that there are deep wounds in it. My dear, I have seen it bleeding" (p. 208). Lucie, here instead of thinking about Carton as worthless, sympathizes and pities him because of his broken heart.

d. The first two statements said by Stryver and Darnay respectively seem to basically say exactly what Carton thinks and says about himself. Stryver regards his opinions as insignificant while Darnay addresses him as a "problem of carelessness and recklessness" probably due to his actions/appearance. Both statements try to suggest that he is not considered highly in society. However, Lucie's feelings about Carton are that of sympathy and pity. This was after Sydney confesses his love for her but tells her that she does not have to love him back because he knows he is a worthless fellow. Hence, Lucie requests her husband to show some respect and be lenient to Sydney. Overall, the characters think of Sydney exactly as how Sydney thinks/talks about himself. But, Lucie on the other hand regards him with sympathy.