A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

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What does Mr. Stryver look like in A Tale of Two Cities?            

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Maud Scarbrough eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Mr. Stryver, an attorney, first appears at the end of chapter 3, book 2, "A Disappointment," on page 88. However, Dickens doesn't describe his appearance until the beginning of the next chapter as he is being thanked by Mr. Darney. The author says that though Mr. Stryver is in his early thirties, he looks twenty-years older—"He was stout loud, red, bluff, and free from any drawback of delicacy," which the author implies has helped in his chosen career. As he shakes Mr. Darney's hand, the author presents Mr. Stryver as an honorable and polite man, catching Mr. Darney's attention through the strength of his personality and accepting Mr. Darney's compliments with grace.

He appears to be quite an aggressive person, and Dickens mentions that he shoulders himself in or out of situations twice. At the end of his meeting with Mr. Darney, Dickens writes:

Mr. Stryver had left them in the passages, to shoulder his way back to the robing-room.

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Domenick Franecki eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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A Tale of Two Cities

Mr. Stryver, a London barrister who represents Charles Darnay, is described in Chapter IV, "Congratulatory," as a man a little over thirty who looks twenty years older. Dickens also says of Mr. Stryver, "he was, stout, loud, red, bluff, and free from any drawback of delicacy." In other words, Mr. Stryver is abrasive and does not show any delicacy of manners. He also shoulders himself, physically and otherwise, into conversations, so he is aggressive and gets involved where he does not belong. In other words, he is a striver, or someone who is always trying to advance in life. Later, he is described as being "too big for any place." The reader gets the idea that Mr. Stryver is always loud and abrasive. 

Mr. Stryver is also described as having "Bacchanalian propensities." In other words, even while he is "shouldering" his way into a well-paying legal practice, he still finds plenty of time to drink. Even though he spends many nights out drinking with Sydney Carton, he is still sharp and ready for the court. 

 

 

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