A Tale of Two Cities

Book 2 chapter 5 "the jackel": Our impression of Carton evolves. How does Dickens create sympathy for Carton, rather than for Stryver


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Chapter 5 is primarily concerned with establishing Sydney Carton's admiration for Lucie Manette and his self-loathing in the knowledge that he has done nothing in his life worthy of her admiration - or anyone's admiration, for that matter. His love for Miss Manette and his self-hatred generate motives that will be crucial later on.

Despite the presentation of Carton as debauched, Dickens exercises the sentiments of his readers to garner some sympathy for Carton. His propensity to shoot himself in the foot is traced back to primary school, where he did other boys' work rather than his own. The responsibility for his own lack of success is placed somewhat on Stryver, who was born with more advantages than Carton. The chapter ends with the pathetic image of the sun rising sadly. Carton's state is pitiable enough to draw an emotional response even from nature herself, or at least that is how it seems from Carton's perspective.