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Sydney Carton: From Zero To Hero

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1324 words Published: 28th Apr 2017

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Charles Dickens extraordinaire revolutionist novel A Tale of Two Cities portrays an excellent character of Sydney Carton whom develops dynamically throughout the novel. Carton overshadows Charles Darnay who is the true lead character by being the actual centre of attention within the plots. Aside that, Dickens characterizes Carton as the pivotal figure in his novel, not because of his heroic suicide at the end but merely because he embodies all the disparate elements of the novel political drama.(Petch 27) Carton characteristics from the beginning to the end, hooked Dickens audiences when the one who is thought to be inconsiderate at first finally shows his true inner manhood by doing the greatest sacrifices of all. In total, there are three arguments which can be say about Carton which are his character is personifies as Jackal by Dickens because of his personalities, have an affection towards Lucie Manette and one who finally proven himself worthy after all.

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At the beginning, Dickens has describes Carton as a Jackal due to his negative personality that overwhelm himself. Dickens has also portrays Carton as an alcoholic lawyer with no interest and motivation within his life as well as everyone who is around him. Firstly, Carton is a lawyer that does not really care about his owns obligation towards his duty. This can be seen during the trial of Charles Darnay of who is accused for spying in England. “Mr. Carton, who had long sat looking at the ceiling of the court, changed neither his place nor his attitude, even with this excitement.”(Dickens 83) Dickens describes that during the trial, Carton only take a few notes while the rest of the time, he only stares at the ceiling and only speaks when is needed. According to LitChart(2), Carton is a drunken lawyer who takes no credit for his own works. Next, Carton faces a serious drinking issue who like no other chooses alcohol to tranquil himself from his problems and stress. “Think? You know I’ve been drinking.”(Dickens 71) Here, Carton confesses that he has a drinking issue that keep him from concentrating for his work and socializing with those around him. “Then, bring me another pint of the same wine, drawer, and come and wake me up at ten.”(71) The relationship between Carton’s characters with his moral values are deeply intervened by Dickens when he writes masterpiece based on society ethic. (Rachmatunnisa Hawasi, SS., S. Hum 1) Beside that, Carton is the one who does not care about anyone around him. “I care for no man on Earth, and no man on Earth cares me.”(Dickens 71) Substantially, Carton ignorance towards people around him brought an external conflict between himself and the other characters in the novel especially those who care of him.(Taira 6)

Despite his moral conflict that is within himself, the ‘forbidden’ love between him and Lucie Manette change Carton over the course period of the novel by interfering with his attitude and personality. Lucie who is posses with a charismatic charm, mesmerizes Carton into changing is attitude by saying “There is a great crowd coming one day into our lives, if that be so.”(Dickens 86) Carton admires Lucie cleverness; he tells her how she makes him believes that, despite his ruined past, he still has a shred of goodness deep within him.(LitChart 2) Slowly, Carton develops the feeling of love towards her but is afraid to let it out. He knows that Lucie will be marrying Darnay and his chances of proposing to her will not be accepted and he did not want to get dumped again by a woman. “I know very well that you can have no tenderness to me; I ask for none; I am even thankful that it cannot be.”(Dickens 156) Here, Carton tells Lucie that due to his weakness in his heart, he is contempt to express his feeling towards her.(Konoshima 7) Next, Carton promises Lucie that he will offers to help her whenever time comes. Due to his feeling of rejected love, Carton decides that, to gain Lucie attention he will do anything for her in whatever circumstances it will be. “Think now and then, that there is a man who would gives his life, to keep a life you love besides you!.”(Dickens 129) Nanako Konoshima (8) writes that, “Carton sacrifices himself at the end, fulfilling what he had promised to Lucie; shows how great and deep Carton love towards her.” In addition, Lucie did notice what he has done at the end and silently thanks him for the huge sacrifice.

At the end, Carton finally proves that his life in Earth is worthy after all in which Dickens expresses it as the greatest sacrifice of all. He not only proves to him that he is useful but also advertises that he really cares about those who are around him. At first, Carton unnoticeably helps Charles Darnay with his trials for spying in England. Dickens in his remarks eventually writes that Mr. Carton took more details of the scene compare to anyone else in order to win the case. Carton’s slovenly appearance only brings his competence to the fore, as Dickens emphasizes his ability to manipulate evidence.(Katsuaki 9) When Carton heard that Darnay is captured by the revolts in Paris and is about to be hanged at the guillotine, he quickly plans on how to save Darnay and bring him back to England. “Carton’s negligent recklessness of manner came powerfully in aid of his quickness and skill…had in his great secret mind…and made the most of it.”(Dickens 256) Carton then threaten Barsad to reveals him as the French spy and a former England spy if he does not cooperate with him to help Charles Darnay.(LitChart 9) Part from that, in order, to generate the conditions for the optimal utilization of evidence, Carton blackmails Barsad, subdues Darnay, and even manipulates Mr. Lorry.(Katsuaki 8) After getting what he want, Carton then search for a drug which can subdues Darnay, changing place with him at the prison and plan the safest way for Lucie and her family to flee back to England. Finally, Carton sacrifices himself and is hanged at the guillotine by the revolts. “I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy, in that England I shall see no more.”(Dickens 320) Carton keeps on reminding him on a verse from the bible that a priest had once said during his father funeral that is “I am the Resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet he shall live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”(LitChart 11) Carton, in fact, dies quietly without uttering any words other than praying within his mind. His final quietude is to be accounted for in relation to Dickens aim to let Carton embodies ‘quiet heroism’.(Konoshima 15) A similar character from other literary work can be seen to compare Carton which is Simon in The Lord of The Flies by William Golding. Both of them posses the same attitude which is to save people they care of, thus making them an allusion to Christ figure.

Subsequently, Carton implies all those character traits that are essential in creating a dynamic charisma of a lead actor in a novel. Carton is signifies as a Jackal, has an affection towards Lucie Manette and finally proven to himself that he is worthy after all. To summarize, Sydney Carton begins his acts as an unmotivated lawyer, drunken and selfish towards himself and those who are around him. However, as the plots develop, Carton starts to change his attitude and personality after having a short date with Lucie Manette which eventually changes his life forever. He now knows his own abilities and starting to realize how useful he is in the world he lives. Dickens designs Carton to be a secretive hero that emerges out from nothing to a great hero in French revolution history.

(Words: 1329)


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