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A Tale of Two Cities

by Charles Dickens

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In A Tale of Two Cities, how do Darnay and Stryver express their desire for Lucie and who seems more likely to marry her?

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In Book the Second, Chapter 10 of A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Darnay displays a certain obsequiousness toward Dr. Manette.  Having established himself in England as a teacher of the French language, Darnay yet expects to work hard.  So, as he approaches Dr. Manette to ask permission to marry Lucie, Darnay is very respectful toward the old doctor.  Having waited a year to declare his love, Darnay approaches with acknowledgement of his and Lucie's closeness, and Manette expresses gratitude for this show of respect.  Darnay apologizes,

Dear Doctor Manette, ...always seeing her and you with this hallowed light about you, I have forborne, and forborne, as long ...and do even now feel, that to bring my love--even mine--between you , is to touch your history with something no quite so good as itself.  But I love her.  Heaven is my witness that I love her!

However, when Darnay tries to reveal his real name and explain, Manette stops him, asking Darnay not to tell him anymore until Lucie's and his wedding day.  The poor doctor has been disturbed by Darnay's announcements and regresses to his work table at night, cobbling shoes.

On this same evening, in contrast to the respectfulness of Darnay and Manette to each other, Stryver works Sydney Carton late into the night.  He boldly announces that he intends to marry Lucie Manette:

Accordingly, Mr. Stryver inaugurated the Long Vacation with a formal proposal to take Miss Manette to Vauxhall Gardens; that failing, to Ranelaigh; that unaccountable failing too, it behoved him to present himself in Soho, and there declare his noble mind.

Toward Soho, therefore, Mr. Stryver shouldered his way from the Temple...bursting in his full-blown way along the pavement, to the jostlement of all weaker people...

Also, in his "shouldering way," Stryver announces to Mr. Lorry his intentions.  Distraught at the news, Mr. Lorry tells Stryver, "you know there really is so much, too much of you!"  As crass as ever, Stryver does not understand when Lorry asks him to postpone his asking Lucie to marry him, but Stryver perceives himself a suitable match.  Nevertheless, Lorry persuades Stryver to wait until he talks with Dr. Manette and Lucie.  Later that night, Mr. Lorry confers with Stryver, telling him that they would refuse his proposal.  As Stryver listens,

The necessity of being angry in a suppressed tone had put Mr. Stryver's blood-vessels into a dangerous state....

Mr. Stryver tells Mr. Lorry that this news "beats everthing past, present, and to come," and he rationalizes that this decision of Lucie to reject Stryver of King's Bar is a "vanity" of an "empty-headed " girl; then he storms out of Tellson's Bank after requesting that Lorry say nothing of this affair.  He vows to "put you all in the wrong."

The sharp contrast between the suave and perceptive Darnay and the brazen and obtuse Stryver is easily apparent.  In fact, Chapter 12 of Book the Second offers much comic relief from a serious tale with the satiric descriptions of Mr. Stryver. 

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