A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

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Why does Charles Darnay strongly oppose the French aristocratic way of life in A Tale of Two Cities? Reference book 2.

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thanatassa eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Charles Darnay is a pseudonym for Charles St. Evrémonde, a French aristocrat who is repelled by the casual cruelty of his father and leaves his home for England, where he earns his living teaching French.

Charles is a morally good young man who is horrified by the behavior of his father, the Marquis St. Evrémonde. There are several acts the Marquis commits that are morally reprehensible. When his carriage runs over and kills a young peasant child, he simply tosses a gold coin to the child's father and worries about whether his horses or carriage were damaged. He believes that it is his right and duty to repress the peasants and boasts of having killed a peasant who objected to the rape of his daughter.

Charles sees the aristocratic way of life, as exemplified by his father, as cruel and unjust.

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Charles renounces his title because he does not believe in the excesses of his uncle’s lifestyle.  He also disagrees with the way the peasants are treated by the nobles.  The incident with the peasant girl that his uncle rapes is a perfect example.  Darnay knows that he will inherit the title, and he cannot bring himself to accept that lifestyle.  He leaves France, takes a job teaching, and falls in love with Lucie in one of those great Dickensian coincidences- his family is responsible for sending her father to prison for 18 years, leading her father to renounce the entire St. Evremonde family, which gets Darnay convicted and sentenced to death.

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