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Charles Darnay or St. Evremonde is a fictional character in the novel, A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens.

Overview

A French aristocrat by birth, Darnay chooses to live in Englandmarker because he cannot bear to be associated with the cruel injustices of the French social system. Darnay displays great virtue in his rejection of the snobbish and cruel values of his uncle, the Marquis Evrémonde. He exhibits an admirable honesty in his decision to reveal to Doctor Manette his true identity as a member of the infamous Evrémonde family. So, too, does he prove his courage in his decision to return to Paris at great personal risk to save the imprisoned Gabelle. When the revolutionaries are trying to find and kill the Marquis, Darnay realizes that his uncle has been murdered, making him the new Marquis.

Charles is put on trial for treason against the Kingdom of Great Britainmarker, but he is acquitted because of testimony by Lucie Manette, and help from Sydney Carton. Charles also falls in love with Lucie after the trial. Charles is supposed to be executed at the end of the book but a noble Sydney Carton is killed instead after taking his place. His noble act is best remembered in the following statement:

"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 to, than I have ever known."

Character Analysis

A man of honor, respected greatly by his fellow citizen caleb, and courage, Darnay conforms to the archetype of the hero but never exhibits the kind of inner struggle that Carton and Dr. Alexandre Manette undergo. His opposition to the Marquis’s snobbish and cruel aristocratic values is admirable, but, ultimately, his virtue proves too uniform, and he fails to exert any compelling force on the imagination.In the book, Darnay is described as a tall, thin man, with distinct facial features.

Qualities and Relationships with Other Characters

Darnay's relationship with Lucie Manette demonstrates powerful love and affection. In the book, he and Sydney Carton both demonstrate their intense love for Lucie; Darnay by his constant gratitude, devotion, and concern for her well being, and Carton by sacrificing his life. In turn, Lucie loves Darnay as her husband and with all her heart, but feels deep sympathy and affection for Carton because of his struggles in life and his hidden thoughtfulness and emotion. The relationship between Darnay and Carton is a difficult one, in large part because of Carton's refusal that he will ever do any good in his life and his reckless attitude. The two are friends, but the fact that they're opposites creates some tension in the relationship. They achieve a sense of calm, though, after Lucie tells Darnay to be gentle with Carton and consider his weathered heart. After Carton meets with the guillotine in Darnay's place, Darnay is forever indebted and grateful to him. In physical appearance, he is almost identical to Sydney Carton.

Darnay's good intentions and innocence always come through in A Tale of Two Cities. He renounces his wealthy and cruel family, thus abandoning the tyranny of the aristocracy, and willingly returns to the dangerous city of Paris in order to rescue the man he'd left in charge of his family's estate after he renounced it. The best sense of Darnay's character comes from studying his actions and his relationships.

Dickens' account of Darnay's trial has many similarities with that of François Henri de la Motte, a French army officer executed in London for high treason on July 27th, 1781.

Cinematic and Theatrical Portrayals

In the 2008 Broadway musicalmarker adaptation of 'A Tale of Two Cities,' Charles Darnay is played by Aaron Lazar.

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