The English novelist, Charles Dickens, is one of the most popular writers in the history of literature. During his life, he wrote many books, one of them being A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens uses many dynamic characters in this novel. Dynamic characters or, characters that drastically change, play a very important role in the novel A Tale of Two Cities.
Towards the beginning of the novel, Jerry Cruncher’s actions are rather disturbing. Mrs. Cruncher is very religious and is always praying. Jerry constantly refers to her praying as flopping and unnatural, even though she says her prayers “only come from the heart. . . . they are worth no more than that “(49). He does not put up with her flopping and even abuses and criticizes her when she chooses to pray. “I won’t be prayed agin, I tell you. I can’t afford it. I’m not a going to be made unlucky by your sneaking. If you must go flopping yourself down, flop in favour of your husband and child, and not in opposition to ’em” (49).
Jerry Cruncher has a secret second occupation that no one knows about. He is a body snatcher and hides this from his family and everyone else. When Mr. Lorry finds out about this, he is very disappointed and says, “My mind misgives me much, that you have used the respectable and great house of Tellson’s as a blind, and that you have had an unlawful occupation of an infamous description” (286).
At the end of the story, Jerry Cruncher makes two vows to Miss Pross. One of them is that he will never interfere with his wife’s praying. He says, “and let my words be taken down and taken to Mrs. Cruncher through yourselfthat wot my opinions respectin’ flopping have undergone a change, and that wot I only hope with all my heart as Mrs. Cruncher may be a flopping at the present time” (340). The other promise he made to Miss Pross is that he will give up body snatching.
Another dynamic character in A Tale of Two Cities is Dr. Alexander Manette. Before Dr. Manette went to the Bastille, he is a “young physician, originally an expert surgeon, who within the last year or two has made a rising reputation in Paris” (298). When the reader met Dr. Manette for the first time, much of is memory is forgotten and he is very weak. At this point in the story he is out of the Bastille and cobbling shoes in a garret in Paris.
“The task of recalling him from the vacancy into which he always sinks when he speaks, is like recalling some very weak person from a swoon, or endeavoring, in the hope of some disclosure, to stay the spirit of a fast-dying man” (37). With the help and love of his daughter and family friend, Mr. Lorry, “the energy which had at once supported him Dr. Manette under his old sufferings and aggravated their sharpness, has been gradually restored to him. He is now a very energetic man indeed, with great firmness of purpose, strength of resolution, and vigour of action” (120).
Even though Dr. Manette’s life will never be the same as it was before he entered the Bastille, his memory is back to normal and he is now able to talk about his past. He overcomes many obstacles in this novel, changing him drastically. Sydney Carton is an example of a dynamic character. “I Sydney Carton am a disappointed drudge, sir. I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me,” is what Carton thinks of himself at the beginning of the novel (76).
He throws his life away, digging himself into a hole he thinks he can never escape from. Carton is an overall depressed human being who overcomes his perceptions of himself. He is a frustrated alcoholic who drinks for the fun of it and who thinks his only purpose in life is to be C.J. Stryver’s sidekick. The only noble part of his life is his pure love for Lucie Manette. Carton, heartbroken by the news of Lucie marrying Charles Darnay, goes to Lucie and reveals his true feelings for her. During his conversation with Lucie, he tells her, ” For you, and for any dear to you, I will do anything. . . . Think now and then that there is a man Carton who will give his life, to keep a life you love beside you ” (140-141).
This conversation with Lucie could be considered the turning point in Carton’s life. He starts caring about himself and other people. Even Lucie thinks differently of Carton. When Charles Darnay is not speaking highly of Carton, Lucie gets offended. She tells her husband “to be very generous with him Carton always, and very lenient on his faults when he is not by. I would ask you to believe that he has a heart he very, very seldom reveals, and that there are deep wounds. My dear, I have seen it bleeding” (193). At the end of the book, Sydney Carton does what he promised Lucie. He sacrifices his life for Lucie’s husband, Charles Darnay.
The last words that Carton thinks of before he approaches the guillotine 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 than I have ever known”(353). He is saying that this is the best thing he has ever done and he never thought that he would die doing such a good deed. Carton never thinks of himself of having any use or purpose, but the sacrifice he made, changes a family forever.
In A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, dynamic characters play a very important role. Jerry Cruncher gives up body snatching and decides to support Mrs. Cruncher’s flopping. Sydney Carton becomes more independent and sacrifices his life for Darnay, showing that he changed. Dr. Alexander Manette’s memory is restored to him and he is able to live a normal life full of love and happiness.