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Book 2, Chapter 5 Notes from A Tale of Two Cities

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A Tale of Two Cities Book 2, Chapter 5

At ten o'clock, Carton proceeds to Mr. Stryver's chambers to do more work. Mr. Stryver and Carton are great friends, and though Carton is not as respectable an attorney as Mr. Stryver, it is the general consensus that while Carton is no legal lion, he makes a surprisingly good jackal. Though he is drunk, as Mr. Stryver notes upon his arrival, Carton sits down to work and works diligently throughout the night. The two converse about the divergent paths their lives have taken, and how, despite the fact that they attended the same schools, Mr. Stryver is so much more successful. Mr. Stryver surmises that it is because Carton has no ambition or energy. Carton argues that it is simply a matter of natural rank; Mr. Stryver fell into his rank, and he fell into his. With a sad air of contemplation, Carton goes home:

"Waste forces within him, and a desert all around, this man stood still on his way across a silent terrace, and saw for a moment, lying in the wilderness before him, a mirage of honorable ambition, self-denial, and perseverance. In the fair city of this vision, there were airy galleries from which the loves and graces looked upon him, gardens in which the fruits of life hung ripening, waters of Hope that sparkled in his sight. A moment, and it was gone. Climbing to a high chamber in a well of houses, he threw himself down in his clothes on a neglected bed, and its pillow was wet with wasted tears." Book 2, Chapter 5, pg. 88

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