Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities show similarities and differences that illuminate the novel’s important characters through the use of foil. One Of the protagonists, Lucie Marietta is portrayed as a beautiful girl with golden hair and blue eyes, yet she not only has beautiful appearances but also has a kind and loving heart. She is very caring and compassionate to those who are around her; she faithfully takes care of her old and ill father whom she did not meet for years. Because of her charming appearance and kind personality, she is loved by many characters in the book.
Miss pros, who took care of Lucie, extremely loves Lucie; she seems devoted to anything that can benefit her “Ladybird”, Lucre’s happiness seems to be the purpose of her life. Her love for Lucie is so strong that it transforms a gentle character like her to an aggressive and active character who counters Madame Defanged, kills her during a physical quarrel, and becomes deaf. Along with Miss Pros’ devoted love, Lucie is admired by all Mr.. Striver, Charles Darn and Sydney Carton and also influences some of their lives. After she gets married to
Charles Darn, the reader is able to see Lucie as a both devoted mother and wife, as she struggles to keep her family and not fall apart while Charles is imprisoned. Another big female character along with Lucie Nanette is Madame Defanged, the antagonist of the book who is cold and ruthless, driven by a strong motivation to take revenge for her dead sister. Madame Deferrer’s assertive character is described by her comment to her husband, Earnest Defanged. She says that “Tell the Wind and the Fire where to stop; not me! ” (3. 12. 36).
She has no compassion for others, and her main motivation is the success revolution and revenge. She rarely reacts to emotional appeal. For example when a boy gets run over by nobles or when Lucie Nanette kneels in front of her and cries, she still does what she is supposed to do, creating secret codes that record who to kill by knitting. As the two main female characters of the plot with devotion to their purpose and pursuit, Lucie Nanette and Madame Defanged develop opposite characteristics all the way. While Lucie is the more reserved, loving, and passive character, Madame
Defanged develops to be more aggressive, ruthless, and active character. By sharing a common characteristic, being one of the few female characters, yet carrying such contrasting characteristics enable readers to clearly see the each character and their characteristics. This is most clearly shown when these two characters encounter each other. While Lucie strives to keep her family and protect her husband while she is unaware of the bloodshed and the ruthless spirit of the revolution by begging Madame Defanged for help and appealing to her compassion, Madame Defanged refuses to listen.
This scene clearly shows the difference between two characters, while Lucie Nanette is not aware of the focus and idea of the revolution and is more concerned with her family and position as a good mother, daughter, and a wife, Madame Defanged does not concern small emotions and focuses on her goal and motivation with no compassion or emotion other than anger and bitterness. Other two characters who share similar traits yet have completely different characteristics are Charles Darn and Sydney Carton.
These characters look like and both love Lucie Nanette, yet have contrasting characteristics and contrasting roles throughout the development of the plot. In the beginning, Charles Darn seems like he has everything he wants; he is smart, passionate, and just. Although he is family member of wealthy French nobility, Darn abandons the financial and social benefits he could enjoy in France, lives in England and marries beautiful and compassionate Lucie Nanette.
On the contrast, in the beginning, Sydney Carton appears to be a drunk and pessimistic person who works as an assistant for a lawyer. Although he loves Lucie Nanette, she is already married to Charles. His life is basically miserable and although he is smart, he gets no credit for his effort and work. Looking at these conditions, it is ironic to see how two men who look alike, love the same woman, and are smart can have such different lives.
This is part of how Charles Dickens uses foil, by putting some similar characteristics between the two characters; it emphasizes more on the differences the two characters have and enable the reader is able more on the differences between the characters. Same case is present with the foil Of Lucie Nanette and Madame Defanged; they are both women with big parts in the book, which is a clear similarity that catches the readers attention, yet they have polarize characteristics that appeal to the reader more clearly due to their similarity.
As the plot develops, the difference between two characters starts to turn out and develops to a more complex relationship. While Charles Darn seems to stay as a flat character that seems to have no control over his situations such as his imprisonment in Paris and his long- doted relationship between Madame Defanged and Doctor Nanette, Sydney Carton develops to be a more complex character than the readers expected in the beginning. As his love towards Lucie Nanette develops, Carton finds his purpose for his life, Lucre’s happiness, confesses his love for her, and decides to become a better person.
However, he does not stop at changing his personality, but decides to sacrifice his own life to get Charles Darn out Of prison to make Lucie happy. Whether if the reason was to make Lucie happy or not, Carton, who seemed to have much less than Darn, now actively eves to save him and get him out of prison by sacrificing his own life. At this situation, a foil is used once again, yet Darns passiveness in front of fate and his background contrasts with Carton’s active pursuit to make Lucie happy by sacrificing his own life and fulfilling his purpose.
As the reader may recognize, the change of the plot and the way the characters are affected are sharply highlighted by different foils between Charles Darn and Sydney Carton in the beginning of the story and towards the end of the story. Charles Dickens, in A Tale of Two Cities, successfully uses different foils twine characters to highlight their developments and significant characteristics of the main characters.
Lucie Nanette and Madame Defanged are foils of each other, although they are the only female main characters of the book, their dramatic difference in character highlight each other’s innocent and evil character. On the same line, Charles Darn and Sydney Carton, who look alike and love the same woman, highlight each other through their different backgrounds, emotional states, and, as the plot develops, actions. In all of these cases, a foil clearly shows the characters’ different traits.