In spite of Sydney's brilliance why is he content to remain the employee of Mr. Stryver?A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sydney Carton is a disappointed idealist.  After the trial of Charles Darnay in which he has saved Darnay from the charge of treason by reason of questionable doubt as to his having been the man whom Roger Cly and John Basard identified, Mr. Lorry speaks about having to "think of the House more than ourselves."  But, when Carton agrees, Mr. Lorry, somewhat offended, replies,

...If you'll excuse me, as very much your elder, for saying so, I really don't know that it is your business."

"Business!  Bless you, I have no business," said Mr. Carton.

"It's a pity you have not, sir."

"I think so too."

Then, when Mr. Lorry suggests he should attend to it if he were to have business, Mr. Carton exclaims, "Lord love you, no!--I shouldn't."  At this show of indifference, Mr. Lorry is upset, and departs.  But, since Charles Darnay feels weak, Carton takes him to a tavern where he can dine while Sydney drinks.and speaks in a "half-insolent manner."  As Darnay takes leave of him, Carton tells his double, "I am a disappointing drudge."  And, after Darnay is gone, Mr. Carton berates himself while looking into a mirror,

"Do you particularly like the man?....Ah, confound you!  What 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 what you might have been!

Then, Carton, who is an alcoholic--merely a character flaw in Victorian times--drinks himself into a stupor and passes out.

Sydney Carton, "idlest and most unpromising of men, was Stryver's great ally."  Sydney is used by Stryver to sift through the briefs and provide Stryver the important information.  Carton allows this condition of exploitation because he belives that he is not quite worthy of success, instead considering himself an unlucky fellow and one that is destined to be used.  Much like a youth, Carton remains too idealistic, and cannot, therefore, imagine himself ever able to achieve such a high standard as the one for which he has set himself.  


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A Tale of Two Cities

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