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An Eclipsed Hero

Posted On : November 19 2020

Writer : Mrinalini Pandey

Mrinalini Pandey, one of our youngest contributors writes for us again. Today, she writes on another of her fave literary characters - Charles, from the Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. She loves reading, loves history and literature.

About the novel: After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille, the ageing Doctor Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There the lives of two very different men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. From the tranquil roads of London, they are drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror, and they soon fall under the lethal shadow of La Guillotine.

An Eclipsed Hero

Charles, from the Tale of Two Cities is one character that has always intrigued me; so much so that I had spent days wondering if there could be any person like Charles for real.

Charles is an eclipsed hero, as all the glory belonged to Sydney Carton, whose selfless and unconditional love for Lucie, had made him immortal even after his death. As I believe that Charles was a hero in his own right I thought of shedding some light on his life and character.

Sydney Carton, madly loved Lucie, for him she was `last dream of his soul.’ Despite of Lucie marrying Charles, Sydney Carton’s love for her remained irrevocable and unchanged. But when Lucie’s husband Charles was being sent to the guillotine, then Sydney who was his look alike, replaced him and sacrificed himself for Lucie’s happiness. Sydney Carton, who was always considered a looser, ended up doing something so heroic which was unthinkable even for the bravest of men.


But, what about Charles? Was he just an ordinary man, whom Lucie passionately loved? Or was he just an extremely fortunate man to have married Lucie and escaped the gallows? In my opinion, Charles was equally a hero as Sydney Carton. Charles, who belonged to the nobility, renounced his title and gave up on all of his privileges, because of the wrongdoings of his father and uncle. Instead of living a life of luxury in Paris, he moved to London and started living the life of an ordinary French teacher. Charles chose a simple life with limited means over the glorious and luxurious life of being an aristocrat. He even dropped off his surname, in order to conceal his identity. He started living the life of a common man, who was not entitled to any perks and privileges by the virtue of birth. He was determined to marry the love of his life Lucie, and started living happily with her in London. But Charles’s simple life took drastic turn when he received a letter from one of his servants, asking him to return to France to save him. Charles went to France, at the time when all the aristocrats were leaving the Country, so that he could save his servant. Charles got caught and was imprisoned. Lucie’s father used his contacts to release Charles from the Prison, only to be caught again by the authorities. It was later revealed that Lucie’s father, Dr Mennet was imprisoned, due to the wrongdoings and influence of Charles’s father and uncle.

Charles possessed all the qualities of a hero. He was self-made, upright, honest and virtuous.

It was a courageous thing to renounce one’s title and privileges. But somehow he never got the credit for his bravery. It takes courage to stand by the right, it takes courage to support the right cause and the right person and most importantly it takes courage to accept the wrongdoings of one’s family and to make efforts in ameliorating them. Charles not only renounced his title but also sacrificed his right to be called a hero for Sydney Carton. Sydney Carton, who’s unconditional and selfless love for Lucie, made him sacrifice his own life to protect Charles, became larger than life. Sydney Carton was the epitome of love, and sacrifice, whereas Charles was the epitome of moral courage and uprightness. Charles was like the moon that never demurred being hidden behind the clouds and never for once flinched at the thought of losing all his glory.


About Mrinalini Pandey: She has done her Masters in History from MLB College in Bhopal. She is currently working as a Consulting Editor at Manjul Publishing House, and is currently researching on Indian Sculptures and their iconography. She has presented one of her papers at Cambridge and is an aspiring artist.

 Thanks Mrinalini, love your enthusiasm, do keep writing for us!

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