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Essay: Dynamic characters in a Tale of Two Cities

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  • Dynamic characters in a Tale of Two Cities
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Charles Dickens is an influential writer in his time. Charles Dickens is born on February 7, 1812 in England. Many of the books he writes are classics. One of the his classics is A Tale of Two Cities. A Tale of Two Cities is about a group of people who get stuck in France at the time of the revolution and only a very dear friend saves them from living lives of sadness. In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens uses dynamic characters that change drastically from the beginning to the end of he book. One example of a dynamic character is Sydney Carton. He is one of the “idlest and most unpromising of men” (83). Dickens also describes Carton as “a problem or carelessness and recklessness” (200). Carton is unpromising and reckless because the other characters in the book see him as a man who drinks too much and can’t take care of himself. While sitting in Mr. Lorry’s office with John Barsad and Jerry Cruncher “Sydney Carton fill[s] another glass with brandy, pour[s] it slowly upon the hearth, and watche[s] it as it drop[s]” (296). Sydney Carton spills the brandy to signify that he won’t be a drunken man any more. Carton also changes in the aspect that he feels love towards Lucie. After Darnay’s first trial in England Carton treats Darnay to dinner at a local tavern. During their conversation Darnay’s love, Lucie, is mentioned. Carton feels no love towards Lucie at that time.

He says, “I am a disappointed drudge, sir. I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me” (82). Soon after Sydney Carton finds himself falling in love with Lucie Manette. Carton says, “[F]or you and any dear to you I would do anything . . . . I would embrace any sacrifice for you and those dear to you . . . . think now and then that there is a man who would give his life to keep a life you love beside you!” (147 – 148). Sydney Carton obviously changes his opinion on loving and caring. Sydney Carton is an example of a main character that is dynamic in A Tale of Two Cities. Dr. Manette is a second example of a dynamic character in A Tale of Two Cities. When Lucie, Mr. Lorry, and Monsieur Defarge meet Dr. Manette for the first time after his imprisonment, Dr. Manette is so weak that his voice “[is] like the last feeble echo of a sound made long and long ago” (38).

Dr. Manette has a “haggard, faded surface of face” (187) from being in a prison cell for so long. Dr. Manette’s features make him appear as an old man in the worst possible mental state. Over time and with love from his daughter, Lucie, Dr. Manette’s mental state improves greatly from the time that he met his daughter. When he is reminded of his eighteen years in prison he relapses. During his relapses he cobbles. Cobbling is a profession he learned in prison and only practices when he is depressed; “[H]is shirt was open at the throat as it use to be when he did that work [cobbling in prison]; even the old, haggard face ha[s] come back to him. He work[s] hard – impatiently – as if in some sense of being interrupted” (187). Dr. Manette has been interrupted because he hasn’t cobbled in a long tine. His mental state is changing for the better because he is cared for by the people he loves most.

Near the end of the book Dr. Manette is trying to save Charles Darnay. At this point in time, Dr. Manette thinks little about his time in prison and the worst eighteen years of his life. The “Doctor walk[s] with a steady head: confident in his power, cautiously persistent in his end, never doubting” himself (266). Dr. Manette was a dynamic character because he changes from a man who doesn’t know his own name to a very confident man. Jerry Cruncher is a third example of a dynamic character in A Tale of Two Cities. Jerry Cruncher hates it when his wife is flopping, or praying, because he thinks it is always against him. Jerry says, “Your mother’s a nice woman, Young Jerry, going and praying agin your father’s prosperity . . . . praying that the bread be snatched out of the mouth of her only child” (54).

Jerry Cruncher makes this statement when he is in England. When Jerry Cruncher goes to France and Lucie tries to escape from the revolution with her family, Jerry’s feelings about praying change. “[N]ever no more will I interfere with Mrs. Crunchers flopping [praying], never no more! . . . my opinions respectin’ flopping has undergone a change, and wot I only hope with all my heart as Mrs. Cruncher may be a flopping at the present time” is what Jerry Cruncher says when he is watching Lucie’s carriage as it departs. Jerry Cruncher changes in another aspect also. At night, Jerry Cruncher steals bodies from graves under the cover of his job at the respected establishment of Tellson’s Bank. “They [are] still fishing [body-snatching] perseveringly” is how Dickens describes the evil night job of Jerry Cruncher (153). When Mr. Lorry, a businessman from Tellson’s, finds out Jerry is a body-snatcher Mr. Lorry gets upset.

Finally Jerry agrees to not steal bodies from their graves any more and Mr. Lorry says, “Say no more now. It may be that I shall yet stand your friend, if you deserve it, and repent in your own action- not in words. I want no more words” (299). The action Mr. Lorry is referring to is body-snatching. If Jerry stops stealing bodies he will still have a friend in Mr. Lorry. Jerry Cruncher is an important dynamic character in A Tale of Two Cities. Some of the main characters in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens are dynamic characters. Sydney Carton is an excellent example of a dynamic character because he changes from a drunken man with no compassion for anyone to a very compassionate person. Dr. Manette also goes through huge changes in his character during the course of the novel; he starts as man who can’t do anything for himself and changes into a confident man who saves his daughter’s husband from death. Last, Jerry Cruncher is a good example of a dynamic character; he changes his opinions about praying and about body-snatching in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

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