Carton’s Change

It is human nature to carry a beast deep down within oneself. Whether one chooses to control the beast or be controlled by it is an individual choice. He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man. Most repress their inner rage, but some let it loose and lose that which makes them a human being. In the novel A tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Sydney Carton is not the man he initially appears to be. Sydney’s love for Lucie changed him greatly, and allowed him to become a better person. Sydney Carton’s final act of supreme courage in Paris is not an inspired emotional response, but a deliberate, carefully reasoned act. In the novel A Tale of Two Cities Sydney Carton drastically changes his life around and becomes a new man, which allows him to die with a clear conscience.



Sydney Carton is not the man he initially appears to be. Sydney is first described at Darnay’s trial as slouching and not paying attention to the proceedings of the court. He is portrayed as drunk, and even admits this to Darney at dinner. “’A last word, Mr. Darney: you think I am drunk? I think you have been drinking, Mr. Carton. Think? You know I have been drinking. Since I must say so, I know it. Then you shall likewise know why I am a disappointed drudge sir.’” (Dickens 91) Sydney feels that there is no hope for him, and that his life will never improve. Carton has much more potential, and could be so much more in life, yet he remains in the shadow of others happy to do the work of others. “ Sydney had been working double tides that night, and the night before, and the night before that, and a good many nights in succession, making a grand clearance among Stryvers papers before the setting in of the long vacation. (Dickens 140) Carton has many repressed feelings and memories, which he keeps hidden deep down within himself. He is a lonely man because of these repressed emotions and memories, which make Sydney turn toward drink.



The more Carton attempts to confront his problems, the more he resorts to recklessness and drinking. Sydney feels that no one cares for him, so he cannot care for another. “’I care for no man on earth and no man on earth cares for me.’” (Dickens 91) Carton’s memories of growing up without care eat away at him, and turn him away from other people, into solitude. Carton detests Darnay when they first meet, because he sees that Darney is everything that he could have been.
“‘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 taking to a man, that he shows you what you have fallen away from, 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.’" (Dickens 91)

Although Sydney thinks he hates Darnay, he really does not. Carton is quick to observe
and act when he sees a way to save Darnay’s life at the Old Bailey trial. Carton is a lonely, but brilliant man. Deep down he is truly a good man with the ability to do good things. All he needs is the love and care of others.




Carton demonstrates a sensitivity to that which gives life meaning; beauty, friendship, faith and love. He is unable to realize them in his own life, so he turns to others to try and find all these emotions, which makes him satisfied to remain in the shadow of others. Carton’s partner Mr. Stryver relaxes while Sydney works long hard hours to prepare the defense material for the following days. Carton does most of Stryvers work, he is a man of great talent but lacks the character traits that would make those talents work to his own advantage. From his early school days, he was a boy who did