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A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities


by Charles Dickens


Character Role Analysis

Sydney Carton

They look alike. They talk alike. On occasions, they even dress alike. Dickens is flashing "FOIL" in big, neon letters whenever he starts to compare Charles and Sydney. When we read about how crummy Sydney’s life is, we begin to understand how much gumption it took for Charles to start all over in a new land. Of course, when we read about how crummy Sydney’s life is, we also begin to understand that Dickens created Charles as a sort of charmed character: he’s the guy whom good things happen to because, well, he’s the guy who marries Lucie. End of story.

The Marquis St. Evrémonde

The Marquis lives the life that Charles should be living. He’s arrogant, rich, and self-important. In other words, he’s everything that Charles is determined never to become. He’s also the symbol of everything that Charles flees when he leaves France for England. He doesn’t ever want to become like his uncle. Unfortunately, no one seems to recognize these differences once the revolution starts. Once an Evrémonde, always an Evrémonde.

Charles Darnay

Sure, Charles is a protagonist. When we think of him as Sydney’s foil, however, a bit of the gleam starts to come off of his armor. Why is he Sydney’s foil? Well, see our reasoning for Sydney (above). At the end of the day, Charles is just…so….good. He makes the right choices all of the time. C’mon, how interesting is that? Through Charles, we see how a perfect life should be lead. We’ve got to be honest, it makes us yearn for just a little bit of Sydney’s imperfections. At times, Charles even seems like a pawn in the game of life. If it weren’t for Sydney, he’d be dead twice over. Learning more about Charles's life makes us appreciate just how much Sydney actually does out of love for Lucie. It’s just too bad that we learn about it indirectly.