Throughout A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens uses the idea of doubles to show contrast between different elements of the story. Right off the bat, the famous first lines “It was the best of times, It was the worst of times” (Dickens, 1) display this concept perfectly. Whether it be the setting or the conflict, doubles are used many times to add more depth to the book. For example, Dickens utilizes dualism again to show distinction between the characters Sydney Carton and Marquis Evrémonde. In A Tale of Two Cities, Sydney Carton and the Marquis Evrémonde have directly opposing character qualities. The first example of their differences comes from how they think of themselves.
To illustrate, the Marquis would not drink his morning chocolate “without the aid of four strong men… all four ablaze with gorgeous decoration” (Dickens, 106). Clearly, Evrémonde akins himself to a God. He thinks so highly of himself that he will only do a mundane task, such as drinking and eating, with great pomp and circumstance. Carton’s opinion of himself, however, is very different. This can be seen during his conversation with Darnay when he says, “I am a disappointed drudge… and no man on Earth cares for me” (Dickens, 81). These words reveal that Carton thinks he is lousy and inadequate.
Carton’s feelings of worthlessness strongly contrast with the Marquis’ God complex. The second personality difference can be found in how each character treats others. After running over and killing a child in the street, the Marquis’ response is, “How do I know what injury you have done my horses” (Dickens, 112).
Obviously, Evrémonde believes his horses to be more important than the life of an innocent kid. This remark reveals that Marquis thinks anyone that is not him is irrelevant and does not matter. Conversely, Carton’s belief is the exact opposite.
While facing death in the place of Charles Darnay, Carton’s last thoughts were, “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known” (Dickens, 375.) Unlike the Marquis, Carton places others before himself and considers his sacrifice the best thing he has ever done in his life. Carton loves Lucie and her family so much that he was willing to lay his own life down for them. In conclusion, Sydney Carton and Marquis Evrémonde could not possibly be more different. The Marquis is completely apathetic towards others but loves himself. Contrastingly, Sydney Carton loves others but hates himself. Charles Dickens makes great use of doubles to highlight these differences.
The distinction between characters is just another thing that makes A Tale of Two Cities such a classic.