We’ve got to warn you: there are lots of heroes in this novel. We’ll start with the first one we meet, however, Dr. Manette. His story starts in a rather strange place: as far as he’s concerned, it’s already over. After decades in prison, he’s not so willing to take up the business of living again. His journey back into the world of the living makes him contender number one for our top protagonist. How do you pick up the threads of life once you’ve had your freedom completely stripped away? It’s a serious question, and Dickens spends a good deal of time dwelling on all of the agony that it entails.
He gets the girl. He goes to prison to fight for his beliefs. He’s the riches-to-rags hero we all love to love. What’s not to like about Charles Darnay? After all, the man manages to escape execution three times.
OK, we’re fudging a bit on this one. Sydney’s not really a protagonist. He’s actually an anti-protagonist in a lot of ways. For one thing, he doesn’t have any sort of drive to do anything much. Heck, he can’t even tell a girl he likes her without making it sound completely hopeless. For all his gloom and doom, however, he’s a pretty decent hero. You could even think of him as the Dark Knight of his time. He doesn’t make the easy choices. But at least he saves the people he loves.