Stryver vs. CartonWho do you think is the most honorable of the two? Stryver or Carton? Explain.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sydney Carton may be dissolute, but regarding Lucie Manette, "his feet became animated by an intention" that takes him to the Manette's home.  There he tells Lucie that she is the "last dream" of his soul.  And, from his soul, Carton resurrects honor as he avows to Lucie,

"For you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything.  If my career were of that better kind that there was any opportunity or capacity of sacrifice in it, I would embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you....O Miss manette, when the little picture of a happy ather's face looks up in yours, when you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there iss a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!"

And, Sydney Carton honorably keeps his promise, becoming the sacrificial victim in order to save Charles Darnay's life.

Humble about himself, and offering the greatest of loves to Lucie, the love that gives of one's own life, Sydney Carton is far, far more honorable than C. J. Stryver, who "shoulders his way" to advancement, who berates his partner who helps him win his cases, who disparages others in the gossip of Tellson's bank, and who is so obtuse and arrogant that he believes that Lucie Manette should be honored to have him as a husband.  As Mr. Lorry tells Stryver when he announces that he is going to announce himself to Miss Lucie,

"But really, you know, Mr. know there really is so much too much of you!"

Stryver's motive for marrying Lucie is, of course, to advance himself rather than from an honorable feelings such as love.  It is ironic, indeed, that Dickens entitles the chapter about Stryver "The Fellow of Delicacy" while the next one which is concerned with Carton is entitled "The Fellow of No Delicacy."

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Stryver is not a man of honor in any way. He is pompous and arrogant in the courtroom, boasting of his successes and taking full credit for everything Sidney Carton has done. Carton is clearly the one with a keen mind, and Stryver takes full advantage of and credit for that.

In terms of social relationships, neither man is particularly pleasant to be around, and a perfect example of this happens after Darnay is found not guilty in his first trial. Stryver insinuates himself into the Darnay/Manette group to seek praise for his brilliant lawyering, and Carton is rude and obnoxious at a private dinner with Darnay. Neither conducts themselves very well in social settings.

When it comes to love, though, Stryver loves only one person--himself. He is mean-spirited and selfish. Carton, on the other hand, is selfless to the point of sacrificing his own feelings, desires, and even life out of love for another. That is the purest and rarest kind of love, and it is even more poignant coming from a man who has virtually wasted the rest of his life.

C.J. Stryver, despite the appearance of honor, has none. Sidney Carton, despite the appearance of dissolution and wastefulness, is a man of honor who is willing to act on it.

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator


Stryver always comes off to me as a pompous jerk.  He has a completely over-inflated sense of self-worth.  Like some 'Ladies-man,' he thinks Lucie should just fall at his feet.  Then when Mr. Lorry is giving him advice and says he ought to think about the lady first, Stryver insults Lucie, calling her a "mincing Fool."  Stryver may appear to be "The Fellow of Delicacy," but inside he is rotten to the core.

q30r9m3 | Student

Carton is drunk though he is commited. Stryver is sober but he is lazy.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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