In A Tale of Two Cities, what is ment by the statement that Stryver laid Darnay under an obligation to him for life in two senses?

Expert Answers
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A Tale of Two Cities is a complex story with both major and minor characters.  C. J. Stryver is certainly a minor character, so to think he's responsible for saving the life of one of the primary characters--twice--is rather ridiculous.  Stryver is a pompous fool to think such a self-important thing.

Stryver feels as if he's done two hugely significant things for Charles Darnay; in fact, he's done nothing at all.  The first thing Stryver believes he's done is saved Charles athis trial.  It's true Stryver was the mouthpiece, the lawyer, who spoke the words which got Charles exonerated; however, he was nothing more than the spokesmanfor the observation and reasoning of Sidney Carton.  The second thing he claims to have done is to "let him have" Lucie--as if Lucie Manette would have agreed to marry the pompous Stryver.  She would have been polite, but she would have said no.

In reality, Charles actually owes his life twice to someone else--Sydney Carton, of course.  Sydney was the one who made the observation to save his life, saving his life the first time.  The second time, of course, is when Carton literally exchanges his life for Darnay's.

raminagrobis | Student

From what I have read so far, I see two reasons why Stryver may feel that Darnay is under an obligation to him:

  1. Stryver as saved Darnay from an accusation of treason by effectively defending him in court.
  2. Stryver pretends (or want to believe to protect his inflated ego) that he has allowed darnay to marry Lucie, by not pursuing her. In fact, of course, she never had any interest in him and would have rejected him formally if Lorry had not intervene to spare Stryver a rejection which would have been humiliating for him and painful for Lucie.
Read the study guide:
A Tale of Two Cities

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question