In A Tale of Two Cities, would the characters Defarge, Stryver, and Sidney Carton be considered honorable or dishonorable?I need this question answered ASAP! please and thank you

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Few people are only good or bad; only the flat characters of early movies were the guys who "wore white hats" and "the ones who wore black hats."  So, although the characters of A Tale of Two Cities are not drawn as thoroughly as is typical of Charles Dickens, they do exhibit both redeeming characteristics as well as dishonorable ones.  Here is an outline of these characters:

  • Ernest DeFarge is a Jacques, a member of the sans-culottes who are planning the revolution against the aristocracy.  He is a bold, dark man who is married to the intensely vengeful Therese DeFarge.  However, he is also the former servant of Dr. Manette and he shows the prisoner from the North Tower kindness and respect despite his exploitation of the doctor as he lets the others called Jacques peer at him. When Madame DeFarge wants to kill all the Evremondes, he speaks out in defense of Lucie and her child, having no interest in pursuing them. Here he does display some honor.
  • Sydney Carton, a dissipated lawyer who allows his partner to exploit his brillant mind, gives the reader little to respect and perceive as good.  However, he becomes absolutely devoted to Lucie in his unrequited love; he swears that he will do anything in his power to protect her.  In the end, he attains redemption for all his flaws by doubling for Darnay and becoming the Christ-like sacrificial victim.  So, with the character flaws of being an alcoholic and a "jackal" who has no pride, Carton is not really bad in any sense; he is merely weak.  But, he becomes honorable because of his unselfish love for Lucie.
  • C. J. Stryver is, perhaps, the only character who has no redeeming characteristics, and is, indeed, dishonorable.  Bombastic, supercilious, and deluded about himself, Stryver "shoulders his way" through life with no principles or scruples.  He is obtuse; for instance, when Mr. Lorry tries to discourage him from courting Lucie, he is uncomprehending.  Then, when he is rejected by Miss Manette, he creates an entire fabrication that he had to reject her because she was too inferior.  Stryver represents all that Dickens abhorred in barristers (lawyers) of London, and is, thus, rather despicable.
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A Tale of Two Cities

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