Why is Sydney Carton bad in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens?Why is he baddddddddddd

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sydney Carton leads a dissipated lifestyle in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.  He is not necessarily a bad man or even an immoral one, but his lack of manners put him at odds with more genteel society.  Dickens portrays Carton from the very beginning as an alcoholic--the first place he wishes to go after the trial is a tavern.  In the chapter "Congratulatory," Carton sits down with a "separate bottle of port before him, and his fully half-insolent manner upon him."   His manners do not improve as he continues to drink, and by the end of the meal Carton asks, ""A last word, Mr. Darnay: you think I am drunk?" (Ch. 4)

Darnay, not wishing to be rude avoids the question until Carton demands he affirm it.  Carton explains his behavior as thus:

"I am a disappointed drudge, sir. I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me." (Ch. 4)

Sydney Carton's life seems full of disappointment; Dickens does not divulge earlier events from his life that explain or excuse his behavior.  Sydney is rough around the edges and chooses not waste time observing proper etiquette.  He says what he means.  Sydney Carton is a character with definite flaws, but ultimately he proves himself to have a tremendous capacity for compassion and love.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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