Toute vie est résolution de problèmes

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Karl Popper

The innocent verdict helps change the atmosphere in the courtroom from tense and bloodthirsty to more congratulatory.  In fact, Dr. Manette, Lucie, and Mr. Lorry all approach Darnay to congratulate him on the verdict. Stryver also congratulates Darnay.  Carton does not approach Darnay when the rest of the group is gathered to do so, but when the crowd leaves, Carton invites Darnay to dinner.  Once they go to dinner, Darnay finds Carton’s behavior puzzling.  Carton does not seem to feel like he did anything remarkable in securing Darnay’s innocent verdict, as all he did was point out a physical resemblance.  He also tells Darnay that he does not like him, which seems puzzling since Carton is the one who invited Darnay to dinner.  Darnay remains graciously thankful despite Carton’s behavior.  As Darnay is leaving, Carton reveals the first real insight into his character, telling Darnay that he drinks because he is disappointed and isolated.  Once Darnay leaves the tavern, Carton engages in self-reflection.  He believes that he and Darnay are very different men, despite their physical similarities.  He thinks of Darnay as the man he could have been.  Carton also notices that Lucie appears to have feelings for Darnay, and reveals that he has feelings for Lucie, as well.  While he does not share the reason for his depression, he is clearly depressed.  He also undoubtedly has a drinking problem; he ends up passing out at the table in the tavern. 

The dinner with Carton and Darnay is critical because it helps establish the theme of doubles in A Tale of Two Cities.  It is with this dinner that the reader first begins to understand the differences between Carton and Darnay, who, until that point in the story, may have seemed similar to the reader.  Because Carton is a lawyer, one might assume that he would be more polished, but he reveals himself to be very uncouth.  Carton does not have great hygiene, appears to be an alcoholic, and is intentionally crude.  In contrast, Darnay is a gentleman, which is the first real clue to the fact that he is a member of the aristocracy.

The chapter also offers insight into Carton’s feelings.  He is obviously full of self-loathing.  Even if the reason for this loathing is never explained, it is clear that he does not value himself.  What is equally clear is that he really dislikes Darnay, which seems puzzling, since Darnay has done nothing to make Carton dislike him.  However, Carton reveals that his feelings about Darnay are linked to his self-loathing and not to anything that Darnay has done.  Furthermore, Carton seems to realize that Lucie is developing feelings for Darnay and is jealous that Darnay is the object of Lucie’s affection.

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