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Notes on Characters from A Tale of Two Cities

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A Tale of Two Cities Major Characters

Dr. Manette: Father of Lucie Manette. Wrongfully imprisoned in France for 18 years, he is brought back from the brink of madness by his adoring daughter, whom he treasures above all else. Though he is eventually freed and makes his home in England with his daughter, where he resumes his medical practice, he is still prone to occasional relapses of a trance-like state, in which he does not remember who he is and can only make shoes. It is the condition in which Lucie found him after his years of imprisonment, and the relapses occur when he is in a state of distress. His unjust imprisonment eventually works in his favor when he is held up as a hero by the revolutionaries, a status that enables him to get his son-in-law, Charles Darnay, freed from prison--but only once. When Darnay is re-imprisoned and the doctor's status cannot help him, Dr. Manette reverts back to his trance-like state.

Lucie Manette: Dr. Manette's kind, loving and beautiful daughter, she helped bring him back from the brink of insanity after his unjust imprisonment. Lucie evokes a deep love from those around her, including her father, Charles Darnay (who eventually marries her), Mr. Stryver, Miss Pross, and, perhaps most of all, Sydney Carton. She cares deeply for her father and marries Charles only after she reassures her father that the marriage will not separate her from him at all. Her beauty and tenderness evoke the last sentiments of real love and emotion in Sydney Carton, as Lucie is one of the last people on earth to treat him with sympathy and kindness. His deep, unspoken love for her leads him to commit an extremely selfless and courageous act on her behalf.

Charles Darnay: The son of corrupt French aristocrats, Darnay flees France to escape the shame of his family's name and to forsake his role in the oppression of the French peasants. Settles in England, where he is unsuccessfully tried for treason. Returns to France at the most dangerous period of the Revolution in order to save a friend who is unjustly imprisoned; is eventually tried twice for crimes against the Republic after the Revolution. Marries Lucie Manette and has a daughter with her; he is deeply committed to both Lucie and her father. Remaining committed to his family and his passionate dislike of corrupt aristocracy, he is one of the most morally upright characters in the book.

Sydney Carton: A lawyer and assistant to 'The Lion,' Mr. Stryver. Carton is known as Stryver's less successful 'jackal.' He is crude, frequently drunk, and often melancholy, and he feels resigned to the disappointing course his once-promising life has taken. Still, he is capable of feeling deep, immense, and tragic love that others cannot see. His one moment of grace comes in a single selfless act that ultimately renders him the hero of the book.

Jarvis Lorry: A long-time banker at Tellson's and a fiercely loyal family friend to the Manettes. Had overseen Dr. Manette's affairs before his imprisonment; was in charge of that account when Lucie became a ward of Tellson's when it was assumed as a child that she was an orphan. Told Lucie that her father was alive and brought her to meet him for the first time. An honest, trustworthy, and compassionate man, Mr. Lorry held the institution of Tellson's and the Manette family above all else in his life.

Madame Defarge: A cruel, vengeance-seeking agent of the revolution, Madame Defarge spends her days knitting a 'register' of names of people she has marked for death. Married to Ernest Defarge, owner of a wine shop in Saint Antoine, Madame Defarge is utterly devoid of human sympathy and is single-minded in her zeal to have Charles Darnay executed, despite his proven innocence of any crimes and despite her husband's loyalty to and compassion for Dr. Manette. Her desire for vengeance stems from the murders of her brother and brother-in-law and the torture of her family at the hands of the Marquis St. Evrémonde and his brother--Charles Darnay's uncle and father. She is so filled with hatred toward them that she wants to wipe out Darnay's entire family, including the Manettes. She is the book's clearest example of how the oppressed peasants became the oppressors during the Revolution.

Monseigneur the Marquis: Charles Darnay's cruel and corrupt uncle. A French aristocrat by birth, Monseigneur has no trace of pity and despises the peasants of France. Born into wealth, he believes that his family was meant to enjoy a higher station in life than the lower classes. He tells his nephew, Charles Darnay, that he plans to keep the oppressed masses in their place as long as he is alive. He is eventually assassinated by one of those peasants, the action that starts the Revolution.

Monsieur Defarge: Former domestic of Dr. Manette's prior to the doctor's imprisonment; cares for Dr. Manette immediately after the doctor's release; married to Madame Defarge. Though he is fond of Dr. Manette, he secretly fears his wife and does not object when she demands the denunciation of Darnay. He is also an important leader of the revolution who discovered Dr. Manette's letter hidden in the chimney of his old cell in the Bastille.

Minor Characters

Miss Pross: Woman who cared for Lucie from the time she was orphaned. Sassy and tart-tongued, she is fiercely protective and loving of Lucie.

Roger Cly: Former servant of Charles Darnay. He testified against Darnay in England and later faked his own death to avoid persecution in his home country before fleeing to France to work as a spy for England.

John Barsad (a.k.a. Solomon Pross): Miss Pross' no-account brother who testified against Charles Darnay in England before fleeing to France to avoid persecution in England. Worked as a spy for England in France and was blackmailed by Sydney Carton into aiding Carton in his final scheme.

Mr. Stryver: Lawyer known as 'The Lion.' A longtime friend of Sydney Carton, he successfully defended Charles Darnay at his treason trial in England. Stryver became a frequent visitor of the Manettes and announced his intention to marry Lucie.

Jerry Cruncher: Messenger for Tellson's and Mr. Lorry's assistant. Comical yet possesses a mean streak, such as when he beats his wife for praying, which irritates him. Supports his income from Tellson's with occasional work as a grave robber. His nocturnal activities eventually play a critical role in the book.

The woodcutter/mender of roads: A revolutionary who works with the Defarges.

Jacques Three: A member of the corrupt Tribunal that sentences Charles Darnay to execution, he is a bloodthirsty and vengeful sidekick to Madame Defarge and the Vengeance.

Lucie: Daughter of Charles Darnay and Lucie Manette.

The Vengeance: Friend of Madame Defarge and fellow revolutionary.

Monsieur Gabelle: Tax collector who is persecuted by the revolutionaries in France; makes an appeal to Darnay to help free him from prison. His letter brings Charles to France, where his life is immediately threatened.

Young Jerry: Jerry Cruncher's son.

Mrs. Cruncher: Jerry Cruncher's wife. Her incessant praying on Jerry's behalf enrages him, though he learns to appreciate it later.

Gaspard: His young son is run over by the Marquis' carriage as it speeds through town. In response, the Marquis flicks Gaspard a coin, showing a complete disregard for Gaspard's son's life. Gaspard later assassinates the Marquis, and is then captured and killed himself. Support for Gaspard grows throughout these events--these three deaths are the beginning of the French Revolution.

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