How is Darnay affected by the things going on in London and Paris?A  Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Of Charles Darnay, the opening antithesis expressed in the novel holds true:  "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."  For, when Darnay renounces his family name of Evremonde and comes to London, he arrives with the hopes of starting a new life, and he meets the love of his life, Lucie Manette. Despite the inauspicious beginning to his life in London as he is tried for treason, Darnay is acquitted and then finds himself in the advantageous position of finding work as a tutor and marrying Lucie Manette.  However, he is haunted by the past of his family name, and he is drawn to the "Lodestone Rock" of his home, Paris, where his loyalty and duty to Gabelle, his servant in charge of the estate in his absence, carry him back to his old life.

With the French Revolution in progress, Darnay finds himself arrested as an emigrant and taken to LaForce, a prison in Paris.   At first his good fortune appears to be with Charles as his father-in-law, Dr. Alexandre Manette, the former Bastille captive, testifies on his behalf, and he is released.  However, Charles is soon re-arrested as he is denounced by Madame Defarge, the surviving daughter of the murdered family by the brothers Evremonde.  This, truly, is the "worst of times" for the Darnay family as Charles is condemned to die. 

Yet, the release of Charles Darnay is effected by the clever Sydney Carton who has come to Paris to keep his earlier pledge to Lucie that he will do anything for her.  Seeking his own resurrection from his failed life, Carton switches places with Darnay and becomes the sacrificial victim for Charles so that he may live a full, rich life with his wife Lucie and their children.   Indeed, for Darnay it is again the "best of times," with the spiritual rebirth of Sydney Carton as the sacrificial lambwhile he is likewise "reborn" to his physical life and returns with Lucie and his children to London.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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