Character Foils In A Tale Of Two Cities

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In classic literature, one finds a multitude of literary devices used to enrich the reader's experience, one of such being character foils. In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Hamlet, and especially in A Tale of Two Cities, renowned authors provide some of the most famous mirror images in the preferred novels of an older generation. Among the contrasting physiognomies of Laertes and Hamlet, one finds the dissimilarity of Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay, Jarvis Lorry and Mr. Stryver, Madame Defarge and Miss Pross in this novel. Each of the pairs signifies a comparison of two people that seem to possess many of the same traits and similarities, but still appear as night and day. In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens…show more content…
Mr. Jarvis Lorry, one of the supporting characters of the novel, expresses great humility and loyalty; therefore, Dickens displays his foil through the arrogant and narcissistic Mr. Stryver. The contrast is found in Mr. Stryver’s pride, which holds him back from achieving his own potential. The first indication of Stryver’s imprisonment is when he believes that Lucie Manette will marry him because he possesses wealth and status. Rather than seeing the marriage as a union of two people, Stryver sees it as his own “magnanimous bestowal of good fortune on the Doctor’s daughter”, which is one of the reasons Lucie does not marry him (Dickens 145). In comparison, Lorry does not seek to take advantage of Lucie, and simply befriends her, acting almost like a father figure or a benefactor. Dickens contrasts Lorry’s empathy and love for others with Stryver’s love for no one but himself. An example would be when Lorry sees that Lucie Manette is uncomfortable around him, then choosing to state that he does not feel like others, and although the statement is derogatory toward himself, Lorry finds joy in the comfort Lucie derives from his words: “I have no feelings; I am a mere machine” (Dickens 26). Lorry finds joy through the happiness of those around himself, while Mr. Stryver traps himself…show more content…
As the novel demonstrates, the walls of a prison are like the memories or character traits that one cannot escape. This theme in A Tale of Two Cities exemplifies how one’s personal struggles can change his or her personality, either for the better, in Charles Darnay’s case, or for the worse, like Madame Defarge. These mirror images incorporate this idea, allowing the reader to understand or experience the feeling without knowing where it comes from. Overall, the theme aids readers in identifying these personality differences and their importance to the
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