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Essay/Term paper: Vital and dynamic characters in a tale of two cities

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Position Papers

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Vital and Dynamic Characters in A Tale of Two Cities

A dynamic character is one who changes greatly during the course of a novel. There are many fine examples of dynamic characters in all Dickens novels. Three of these characters are Dr. Alexandre Manette, Jerry Cruncher and Sydney Carton. Dynamic characters play a very apparent role in the novel A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

Dr. Manette starts his life as a young successful man but then is traumatized by imprisonment and again becomes successful with the comfort of, his daughter, Lucie. Lorry rescues Dr. Manette from his prison in St. Antoine and essentially brings him back to life. At first Alexandre seems unstable and much older than his years, but as Lucie nurses him back to life he transforms into the vibrant man missing throughout hers. Doctor Manette has no recollection of his successful past: "Doctor Manette, formerly of Beauvais . . . the young physician, originally an expert surgeon, who within the last year or two has made a rising reputation in Paris" (298). After his unnecessary imprisonment he is very weak and frail: "[h]e had put up a hand between his eyes and the light, and the very bones of it seemed transparent" (36). He is found in a dark garret hunched over a cobbler"s bench making shoes to pass time. At first Lucie is apprehensive about approaching her father, but as she observes his actions she is overcome with joy; she has now found her father whom she thought was dead for seventeen years. As he spends more time with Lucie and Miss Pross he gradually gains more and more strength and is beginning to reach his capacities in life. "This new life of the Doctor"s [is] an anxious life, no doubt; still the sagacious Mr. Lorry [sees] that there was a new sustaining pride in it" (253). The changes in Dr. Manette are not all by his own doing. He started life prosperous and fortunate, and after an ill-fated imprisonment it takes him a long while to accomplish the ability to endure life again.

As the novel begins, one obtains the idea that Mr. Jerry Cruncher is an evil man, but during the course of the book evident differences are found in both his personality and his actions. One night when he comes home "he devote[s] himself during the remainder of the evening to keeping a most vigilant watch on Mrs. Cruncher" (146). Later that night he discovers Mrs. Cruncher praying and he proceeds with "holding Mrs. Cruncher by the ears, and knocking the back of her head against the head board of the bed" (149). He is a very brutal man who obviously objects to his wife flopping or praying. At the end of the book his opinions change and he now regrets his previous actions and the way he treated his wife. "[A]nd let my words be [taken] down and [taken] to Mrs. Cruncher through yourself—that wot my opinions respectin" flopping [have] undergone a change, and that wot I only hope with all my heart as Mrs. Cruncher may be a flopping at the present time" (340). Jerry Cruncher is changed, and now is much more accepting and benevolent towards his wife and all other people he encounters.

Sydney Carton is a character who has a dramatic life and develops greatly during the course of the book, from a man whose life seems to have no importance, to an extremely humble human being who proves to be vital during the course of the novel. "Sydney Carton; idlest and most unpromising of men [is] Stryver"s great ally" (78). Carton never thinks for himself, he is constantly at the aid of C.J. Stryver. He never fulfills the abilities he has, such as the opportunity to become his own person, expand his horizons and acquire knowledge. Later in the book, Carton goes to see Lucie Manette and she feels sympathy towards him, "remember how strong we [Lucie and Charles] are in our happiness, and how weak he is in his misery" (193). He is a frenzied alcoholic who sees nothing positive in himself, and has no idea that he will perform such a noble task in his future. Carton exchanges places with Darnay when he is about to be executed. His final words show how he finally does realize that his life is worth something and that he has left this world successful. His last words are: "[i]t is a far, far better thing that I do, then I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go than I have ever known" (352). Carton is a changed man at the completion of the book. As shown, he is modified from a self-serving jackal who lives to serve Mr. Stryver for what seems eternity to a man who sacrifices his life for the good of others.

In the Charles Dickens" novel A Tale of Two Cities, evident changes are found in the roles of dynamic characters. Dr. Manette worked hard to be successful in his early years, but then is imprisoned and again has to suffer and struggle to maintain his status. Jerry Cruncher changes from a brutal bodysnatcher and eventually shows his feelings and is more compassionate towards everyone. In the beginning of the book Sydney Carton is a man who has no moral strength, and at the conclusion he sacrifices his life for his love of Lucie Manette.


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