Chapters 3 and 4: Sidney Carton
The trial begins with the Attorney General reading a statement concerning
the charges of Treason against Darnay. Darnay’s lawyer is a Mr. Stryver and he tries to discredit the prosecution’s main witnesses, John Barsad and Roger Cly.
It is clear that Judge and Jury have already assumed that Darnay is guilty. He is accused of giving information about British troops in the American War of Independence to the French who were the American’s allies. Barsad turned Darnay in together with Roger Cly who was Darnay’s hired servant. Both seem unreliable, but their testimony is believed.
Darnay was one of the passengers in the carriage to Dover in Chapter 1 and
also returned back to England on the same ship as Dr. Manette and Lucie.
Lucie testifies in tears that the prisoner aided her and her sick father and that he had jokingly made a remark that George Washington will some day be as famous as George III. This brought shouts of anger from the crowd.
Dr. Manette is unable to remember details of the trip, as he was ill.
The trial is so biased that the Judge will not even allow the defense to
make a speech.
However, Stryver dramatically calls attention to the resemblance his assistant, Sidney Carton, has to Darnay. This causes great confusion for the witnesses. He states that Darnay is an innocent victim whose confidential family affairs caused him to travel between Paris and London. The jury returns a verdict of Innocent.
Dr. Manette, Lucie, Mr. Lorry and Mr. Stryver celebrate with Darnay on his
It is clear that Carton had the idea to confuse the witnesses over the
identification of Darnay, and Darnay wants to thank Carton for his timely intervention. Carton shrugs off the thanks, informing Darnay that he does not particularly like him and he leaves the company to go on
another drinking binge. Carton reflects on his physical resemblance to Darnay thinking that he represents all that he could have been.
The first book dealt with the recall to life of Dr. Manette.
Here we see another man recalled to life. The reader learns that Darnay is a dead man and the crowd in the court is baying for his blood. Dickens describes the scene as ‘a cloud of great blue flies that you would find hovering over a dead body’. Darnay is saved through the intelligence of Sidney Carton who has the appearance of a disreputable looking lawyer who spent most of his time in the courtroom staring at the ceiling. He seems disinterested by what was going on around him just as Mme. Defarge seems more interested in her knitting, but appearances are deceptive.
Dickens again writes about duality using the characters of Sidney Carton and
Charles Darnay. Apart from their physical similarities they are contradictions. Carton is ill mannered, scruffy and a heavy drinker, whilst Darnay is polite, calm and a gentleman. Carton realizes
that he could have been like Darnay, but due to his bad habits, he has fallen from what he could have been.
He now has no chance of having a happy life with someone like Lucie; therefore, Darnay is a source of annoyance to Carton as he reminds him of the life he has lost. The reader finds Carton more interesting because he is a rogue, witty, entertaining and has many facets, unlike Darnay who is almost boring.