What is C.J Stryver's physical description?A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although there is no detailed physical description of the obtrusive C. J. Stryver in A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens often suggests that he is big and overbearing. There are often suggestions of his being rather large and bullying in his manner, as often the phrase "shouldered himself" is used. For example in Chapter 12 of Book the Second, "The Fellow of Delicacy," Mr. Stryver shoulders his way from the Temple

bursting his full-blown way along the pavement, to the jostlement of all weaker people, might have seen how safe and strong he was....

So, he pushed open the door...stumbled down the two steps, got past the two ancient cashiers, and shouldered himself into the musty back closet where Mr. Lorry sat....

In discussing his chances of marrying Lucie, the usually discreet Mr. Lorry finally must tell Stryver, "you know, there really is so much, too much of you!"  Angered by Mr. Lorry's suggestion that Lucie would reject his proposal, Stryver turns and

"burst out of the Bank, causing such a concussion of air on his passage through, that to stand up against it bowing behind the two counters, required the utmost remaining strength of the two ancient clerks.

Further in the narrative, in Chapter 21 of Book the Second, Dickens writes that Mr. Stryver

shouldered his way through the law, like some engine focing itself through turbid water...

He marries a florid widow who has property and three boys.  Towards these "three lumps of bread-and-cheese," Mr. Stryver exudes "patronage of the most offensive quality from every pore."

So, rather than his being large, the characterization of C. J. Stryver focuses more upon his overbearing nature and manners.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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