A Tale of Two Cities | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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A Tale of Two Cities | Book 2, Chapter 13 : The Fellow of No Delicacy | Summary



Sydney Carton, who has been a regular fixture at the Manette household, has rarely shown any of his inner goodness. However, having learned that Mr. Stryver has "thought better of that marrying matter," he decides he must tell Lucie Manette how he feels about her, that she has been "the last dream of [his] soul." He tells Lucie he knows she cannot return his feelings and is glad of it because "he would bring [her] to misery, bring [her] to sorrow and repentance, blight [her], disgrace [her], pull [her] down with him." He says he "draw[s] fast to an end" and begs her to keep his confidence, which she assures him she will. Both cry. He tells her to "be comforted" because he is "not worth such feeling" and will shortly return to his debased ways. But he also asks her to remember that inwardly, his feelings for her will not change and to "think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!"


Sydney Carton may seem a failure in most aspects of his life, but he has performed brilliant miracles in the courtroom, saving Charles Darnay's life in the process. Now readers see how well he knows himself and witness another proof of his capacity for self-sacrifice. He will not even attempt to win Lucie Manette because he knows doing so would ruin her. For her sake, he is glad she would never be able to love him. His declaration that he would give his life to ensure hers is happy and filled with love is sincere. His devotion will be tested at the end of the novel, and Carton will pass with flying colors, giving up more than just his chance at love.

In making this declaration, Carton predicts not only his own future, but also Lucie's. She will marry—"new ties will be formed about you"—and have a child—"the little picture of a happy father's face, ... your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet."

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