A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

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Of the extraordinary amount of literary devices available to authors, Charles Dickens uses quite a few in his novel A Tale of Two Cities, which is set during the French Revolution. One of his more distinctive devices is character foils. The five sets of foils are Carton and Darnay, Carton and Stryver, Darnay and the Marquis de Evremonde, Madame Defarge, and Mr. Lorry and Jerry Cruncher. Dickens uses foil characters to highlight the virtues of several major characters in order to show the theme of personal, loving relationships having the ability to prevail over heartless violence and self-consuming vengeance. The most prevalent example of characters that are foils is the pair of Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton. These two men are …show more content…
This wasted potential is emphasized when both Darnay and Carton fall in love with Lucie Manette. Darnay, as the typical charming hero, is chosen over desperate, brooding Carton. As a result, Carton finds himself channeling his love and his physical advantage of being Darnay’s double into keeping Lucie safe and happy by way of rescuing Darnay from the guillotine. Thus, Carton is able to become the proverbial “good guy,” a role he saw for himself in his counterpart, Darnay. He also managed to thwart the Defarges’ plot to murder all those connected to the aristocracy in any way. In this way, Dickens is able to use the comparisons and contrasts between the two men to show how love is capable of victory over violence and vengeance. Charles Dickens’ extensive use of foil characters in A Tale of Two Cities also includes the duo of Mr. Stryver and his business partner, Carton. Although the characters in the novel are spaced apart among various chapters, meaning certain characters only appear on occasion, the few scenes involving both Carton and Stryver undeniably indicate their status as foils. Both Carton and Stryver wish to marry Lucie Manette, although they go about it in much different ways. Carton, “the fellow of no delicacy,” obtains a personal discussion with Lucie, in which he, already defeated, acknowledges the hopelessness of his situation (148-153).
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