A Tale of Two Cities Character and Theme Quotes

Charles Dickens

Essential Quotes by Character: Sydney Carton

Essential Passage 1: Book II (Chapter 4)

“Do you particularly like the man?” he muttered, at his own image; “why should you particularly like a man who resembles you? There is nothing in you to like; you know that. Ah, confound you! What a 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! Change places with him, and would you have been looked at by those blue eyes as he was, and commiserated by that agitated face as he was? Come on, and have it out in plain words! You hate the fellow.”


Sydney Carton has had dinner with Charles Darnay, the man whom Sydney helped acquit for treason. Sydney, however, has stated that doing so was just part of his job, that it was in no way a personal favor. Charles is very grateful but a bit shocked when Sydney states his dislike of him. Charles nevertheless is the perfect gentleman and does not retaliate and continues on good terms with Sydney. As Charles leaves Sydney to his alcoholic stupor, the latter reflects on his ambivalent feelings for the Frenchman. He questions why he should be expected to like Charles simply because they resemble each other physically. In fact, to Sydney this is an excellent reason to feel the opposite. Charles is a reminder of what Sydney could have been if he had applied himself. Charles is also a reminder that it is the Frenchman, rather than the Englishman, to whom Lucie Manette is evidently drawn.

Essential Passage 2: Book II (Chapter 13)

“My last supplication of all, is this; and with it, I will relieve you of a visitor with whom I well know you have nothing in unison, and between whom and you there is an impassable space. It is useless to say it, I know, but it rises out of my soul. For you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything. If my career were of that better kind that there was any opportunity or capacity of sacrifice in it, I would embrace any sacrifice for at some quiet times, as ardent and sincere in this one thing. The time will come, the time will not be long in coming, when new ties will be formed about you—ties that will bind you yet more tenderly and strongly to the home you so adorn—the dearest ties that will ever grace and gladden you. O Miss Manette, when the picture of a happy father’s face looks up in yours, when you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!”


Charles Darnay and Lucie Manette are to be married, with Dr. Manette’s blessing. Although Sydney Carton has been in love with Lucie since Darnay’s trial, he has come to accept the inevitable—that she would choose a stable person such as Darnay rather than a dissolute slacker such as himself. Rather than separate himself from the new couple, Sydney desires to continue their relationship, even if it is only as a friend. While he does not desire to change his ways, he does want to offer himself as a sacrifice for Lucie, should the occasion arise. Sydney, meeting Lucie prior to her wedding, asks her solely to accept him as a friend, with the pledge...

(The entire section is 1463 words.)

Essential Quotes by Theme: Resurrection

Essential Passage 1: Book I (Chapter 3)

...He was on his way to dig some one out of a grave.
Now, which of the multitude of faces that showed themselves before him was the true face of the buried person, the shadows of the night did not indicate; but they were all the faces of a man of five-and-forty years, and they differed principally in the passions they expressed, and in the ghastliness of their worn and wasted state. Pride, contempt, defiance, stubbornness, submission, lamentation, succeeded one another; so did varieties of sunken cheek, cadaverous colour, emaciated hands and figures. But the face was in the main one face, and every head was prematurely white. A hundred times the dozing passenger inquired of this spectre:
“Buried how long?”
The answer was always the same. “Almost eighteen years.”
“You had abandoned all hope of being dug out?”
“Long ago.”
“You know that you are recalled to life?”
“They tell me so.”
“I hope you care to live?”
“I can’t say.”
“Shall I show her to you? Will you come and see her?”
The answers to this question were various and contradictory. Sometimes the broken reply was, “Wait! It would kill me if I saw her too soon.” Sometimes, it was given in a tender rain of tears, and then it was, “Take me to her.” Sometimes it was staring and bewildered, and then it was, “I don’t know her. I don’t understand.”


Jarvis Lorry, of Tellson’s Bank of London, is on his way to France to retrieve Dr. Alexandre Manette, an old customer and friend, who has been imprisoned in La Bastille, the notorious Paris prison, for eighteen years. He is to bring him to England, where he will be reunited with the daughter who thought that he had died long ago. Mr. Lorry envisions the possible scenarios of his meeting with Dr. Manette, not sure how someone who has been subjected to such an experience will react to his newfound freedom. In this hypothetical situation, Mr. Lorry points out to Dr. Manette that he has been “recalled to life.” Dr. Manette is unsure, his confidence shattered by his isolation in the dungeon. It is the possible multiplicity of responses from Dr. Manette to meeting his daughter that gives Mr. Lorry pause. Whether he will refuse to see her, beg to be taken to her immediately, or be mired in hesitation, Dr. Manette must come to accept the fact of his resurrection from the death of prison to the life of freedom.

Essential Passage 2: Book II (Chapter 13)

“If it had been possible, Miss Manette, that you could have returned the love of the man you see before you—self-flung away, wasted, drunken, poor creature of misuse as you know him to be—he would have been conscious this day and hour, in spite of his happiness, that he would bring you to misery, bring you to sorrow and repentance, blight you, disgrace you, pull you down with him. I know very well that you can have no tenderness for me; I ask for none; I am even thankful that it cannot be.”
“Without it, can I not save you, Mr. Carton? Can I not recall you—forgive me again!—to a better course? Can I in no way repay your confidence? I know this is a confidence,” she modestly said, after a little hesitation, and in earnest tears, “I know you would say this to no one else. Can I turn it to no good account for yourself, Mr. Carton?”
He shook his head.


Sydney Carton, who has long been in love with Lucie Manette,...

(The entire section is 1674 words.)