While he is rather coarse in his manners, there is an underlying nobility in the soul of Sydney Carton of "A Tale of Two Cities." And, it is this conflict that leads to Sydney's self deprecation and loathing. In Book the First, chapter 4, when Sydney invites his double, Charles Darnay, to dine with him, Carton reveals to Darnay,
I am a disappointed drudge, sir, I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me.
After Darnay leaves, Carton holds a candle up to himself muttering,
'Do you particularly like the man?....Why should you particularly like a man who resembles you? There is nothing in you to like; you know that. Ah, confond you! What change you have made in yourself! A good reason for taking to a man, that he shows you what you have fallen away from, and what you might have been!
A most melancholic fellow,Sydney Carton perceives himself as having no luck. Instead, he is a man who has allowed himself to be used by such as Mr. Stryver who wins legal cases because of Carton's brilliant mind. But, Sydney Carton's love for Lucie is so pure and youthful in his devotion to her that the reader finds him/herself moved. And, despite Lucie's having married his rival, Carton promises unconditional devotion to her and pledges friendship to Darnay, a man whose life he saves twice.
Although Sydney Carton fits the penchant of Charles Dickens for creating passive, suffering protagonists, Carton rises above the hero whose virtue and grace consist in bearing up under intolerable circumstances. For, he alters circumstances, and in saving the life of his friend for the woman that he adores, Sydney Carton, by going to the guillotine in Darnay's place, redeems his wayward life and becomes the noble person that he was meant to be.
Because he finally rises above the mundane, the reader likes the character of Sydney Carton, a most noble soul.