In A Tale of Two Cities, although Carton could have been a lion, he was an amaizingly good jackal. Comment.This is about Sydney Carton. Why did he choose to work for Stryver even though he had a...

In A Tale of Two Cities, although Carton could have been a lion, he was an amaizingly good jackal. Comment.

This is about Sydney Carton. Why did he choose to work for Stryver even though he had a brilliant mind?

Expert Answers
dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sydney Carton is a "man of good abilities and good emotions," but sadly, he is also "incapable of their directed exercise, incapable of his own help and his own happiness." He lacks self-discipline and direction, and so is doomed to be an insignificant underling beneath the shadow of those more ambitious than himself. Even though Carton has a brilliant mind, he works for Stryver, who is much less intelligent but recognized as far more successful in life. As Stryver succinctly notes, Carton "summon(s) no energy and purpose," and as Carton wryly admits, because of this, Stryver (is) always somewhere, and (Carton is) always - nowhere."

Stryver and Carton had attended law school together, and the pattern in their relationship had been established there. Stryver is now a successful lawyer, and Carton works for him, breaking down briefs so that his employer can understand them. In other words, Carton does all the work, and Stryver reaps the glory. The analogy of the lion and the jackal is an apt description for the relationship between the two men. With his brilliant mind, Carton has the raw material to be a lion, a king of beasts or men, noble and revered. Because of his lack of drive and discipline, however, he is relegated to the role of a jackal, a lowly, scavenging creature who merits little recognition or respect in his own right (Book the Second, Chapter 5).

Read the study guide:
A Tale of Two Cities

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question