The significance of Charles Darnay's character in "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens

Essay by Sydneyx3mHigh School, 11th gradeA, April 2004

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"A Tale of Two Cities" is one of Charles Dickens' most favoured novels that brings out the spirit of the late eighteen century and the outbreak of the French Revolution. The book opens in the year 1775 by contrasting Paris and London in "the best of times" and "the worst of times" (p. 3). The story shifts from injustice and brutality to sacrifice made in the name of love. The carefully chosen characters show an attitude that either changes under the pressure of terror, or keeps them calm and faithful to their principles. The character of Charles Darnay evolves throughout the novel, impacting the growth and development of other characters, and revealing his point of view, which is completely different from that of the other Evremonde family members.

Charles Darnay is a young decent man who lives an honest life in London. He is a Frenchman who works as a tutor in England.

Due to his frequent travels between England and France, Darnay is charged with treason. Therefore, he is arrested and put on trial for spying. While in court, he does not make any attempt to protect himself and tranquilly awaits to receive his sentence. Sydney Carton and Mr. Stryver defend Charles with their wits. Stryver challenges one of the witnesses, against Darnay, to compare Charles' and Carton's physical appearance and to confirm his disposition that Darnay was the spy. The witness discovers the stunning resemblance and is unable to verify that five years ago it was Darnay, who traveled through Dover. This made the case favourable to Charles and he was declared 'innocent'. Darnay's calmness proves his innocence and attracts the people on his trial to his side. He wins compassion and sympathy and even the opposition is not so severe with him. Charles is attracted to the...