A Tale of Two Cities Study Guide (Choose to Continue)


A Tale of Two Cities: Novel Summary: Book II Chapter 4-5

Average Overall Rating: 4
Total Votes: 3048

Book II
Chapter 4-5

Outside the court Charles Darnay, Lucie Manette, Doctor Manette and Mr. Lorry discuss the trial. After kissing Lucie's hand, Mr. Darnay thanks Mr. Stryver who has pushed his way into the group. Mr. Lorry sees Dr. Manette look somewhat fearfully and curiously at Charles Darnay. Soon the doctor and his daughter depart. Sydney Carton approaches the group. He is a little drunk and smells of port wine. Mr. Carton upsets Mr. Lorry by explaining that he, Mr. Carton, has no business and even that even if he did he would not attend to it. Mr. Lorry asserts that business is what guides one's life and departs in a huff. Sydney Carton takes Darnay to a nearby tavern to dine and drink. Carton proceeds to get more inebriated and chides Darnay for the obvious affection that Lucie Manette showed for him on the stand. His line of questioning leads to the assertion that he doesn't particularly care for Darnay. Before Darnay departs, Sydney Carton confides to him that he is a drunk because he cares for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for him. After Darnay leaves he orders another pint of port and gives orders to be awoken at 10pm. He questions himself in a mirror and tells himself that he hates Darnay because the remarkable similarity in their appearance reminds him of what he has not become. He falls asleep on his arm at the table.

The narrator observes that those were drinking days in London and Mr. Stryver, who was tireless in his pursuit of professional success and advancement, was like his counterpart Sydney Carton a heavy drinker. Carton rendered service to Stryver in all night drinking sessions where he would review Carton's upcoming cases and distill the essence from the various statements, a task his friend was intellectually ill equipped to perform himself. In this way Sydney Carton was the jackal to Mr. Stryver's lion. After being awoken by the waiter at 10pm, Sydney Carton made his way to Stryver's apartment where the two engaged in a long night of drinking while Carton poured over case briefs. While Stryver reclined on the sofa and drank at ease, Carton draped himself in cool wet towels and doggedly drank alcoholic punch and did his work. At three in the morning, the work complete, the two friends discuss the differences in the their nature and recall the days they spent as students in Paris. Before Carton leaves, Stryver asks what he thought of the pretty Miss Manette and is surprised to hear his morose friend's assertion that she was not very pretty. Carton walks home alone through the cold streets and falls asleep in his rarely used bed.

Analysis of Chapters 4-5
These chapters serve to flesh out the character of Sydney Carton. His discussion with Darnay demonstrates that although the two are alike in appearance their demeanors are very different. While Darnay eats, Carton drinks and whereas Darnay is polite and tempers his responses, Carton's comments are caustic, fueled by alcohol and a general dissatisfaction with life. The second half of Carton's evening, spent at Mr. Stryver's apartment, illustrates Carton's genius with the law and his complete willingness to let his partner take the credit for his own work. Though, as Mr. Stryver notes, In these descriptions, the reader is given the impression of a man who feels unloved, uninspired and for lack of any other attractive alternative, satisfied with simply doing his partner's work. Their discussion reveals that they have known each other since their school days and that Stryver has always been pushing his way to the front ranks. "You were always somewhere," observes Carton, "and I was always - nowhere." They are opposites and together they seem to be prospering. Their partnership is depicted as a friendly union that neither man seems impelled to break. Sydney Carton's dismissal of Miss Manette's beauty, something, which has obviously affected him, reveals that he is not devoid of sensitivity and yearning for a higher purpose.


Quotes: Search by Author