Name Professor Class Date The Illusion of Similarity Between Darnay and Carton in “A Tale of Two Cities” Introduction Charles Dickens' novel “A Tale of Two Cities” presents a variety of characters to readers, but the two most important, and probably most interesting, characters in the novel are seen in Book 2 (Bloom 17)…
Their stark similarities and interesting differences play important roles in the story plot (Cotsell 193). This brings the discussion to one of the striking themes of the novel --- the concept of doubles. The Concept of Doubles The novel opens with these lines: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. (Dickens 13) These opening lines immediately tells the readers the central plot of the story. It is about doubles, and all the similarities and differences of those doubles (Nardo 73). Even the title itself gives away the idea that the events in the story happens in two separate cities. While Dickens uses the theme of doubles to highlight several oppositions in the story, he also utilizes it to reveal similarities (Bloom 23), whether real or illusion. On a personal standpoint, one of the most interesting role of the technique of using doubles in the novel is the way the concept of how one thing could really be another is presented. One of the best examples here is the story surrounding Darnay and Carton. Darnay and Carton can easily be thought as one person due to their physical traits. Yet upon a closer look, one can see how Darnay is actually the embodiment of Carton's possibilities (Hutter 451). As the story progresses, it is easy to feel more positive towards Darnay, and just a bit sympathetic towards Carton. This style brings about what can be called a turning of tables in the end, which is the story's climax, when the good-for-nothing Carton surpasses the heroic image of Darnay (Nardo 74-5). This concept will be discussed further in the next paragraphs. Overview of the Two Characters During the trial in England, Carton brings up the idea that Darnay and he have very similar appearances. He says, “My lord being prayed to bid my learned friend lay aside his wig, and giving no very gracious consent, the likeness became much more remarkable” (Dickens 82). This strategy helps Carton in Darnay's acquittal from the treason charge, thus helping Darnay to wiggle out of a sticky situation. However, one striking fact here is how Dickens shows that no matter how similar they can seem to be, they can also physically look different at times. This is where the differences despite the similarities between the two protagonists start. Darnay is always well-groomed and neat, while Carton is almost always looking drunk and not very presentable (Page 121). This is just one similarity and difference between the two men. Darnay and Carton also share similar beliefs. Both men try to make the most out of life by working for what they believe in and for what they want. Still, despite this another similarity, they have differences as well. While Darnay tries hard to be noble and to keep his dignity and honor clean, Carton sometimes uses misrepresentation and blackmail to get what he needs and wants (Page 124-5). While Darnay may ...
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