The Gospel in Dickens
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September 11, 2009


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Haha, I never caught that before, but it's true! I'm with Sydney Carton in the LOL. ;)

Because Charles Dickens uses caricature to portray human traits, we can sometimes mistakenly see his characters in black-and-white terms: all good or all bad. But, in fact, most of CD's characters are fully human, with a infinite variety of good and bad characteristics. Seldom are his characters all good (Little Nell) or all bad (Quilp).

^ ^
Yeah, even Uriah Heep has a reason for his meanness, and hey, he loves his mother! lol

I think it's strange how good people like Darnay are considered "unrealistic" characters. Most of the people you meet are basically good and lead uneventful lives.

Lol! You know, it's sort of like Mr Bingley from Pride and Prejudice, though. Just cause he's not Darcy... ;)

I feel the same way, Gina. I've always felt bad liking Charles when I empathized so much with Sydney. But, I love Charles, really I do. He has the same brand of goodness that Arthur does, if you think about it, like he's very kind but some of the things he does make decisions that are frustrating to the reader.

And the LOL(Z?) literally did make me laugh out loud. So, well done!

I have friends like Charles. They live in Berkeley, and the rest of us have to grab their ankles and pull them down from the clouds every once in a while. (Or from the tree they're camping out in)
Charles is a rather complex character. A lot of the criticisms of him are that he's a cardboard cutout, but those aren't true. Perhaps he just seems flat because he is so familiar and so real. He doesn't possess many if any qualities that aren't "normal" and therefore "boring". He has a very firm moral compass and is very idealistic but doesn't understand how those ideals translate into the real world. I think all of us know a person who is like this.
It's fascinating to look at Charles' thread in the story as being a warning on the dangers of implementing good intentions without having a reasonable understanding of how humans as individuals and groups behave. Charles just assumes that everyone is good and wants the best, just like himself. What is ironic about the quote that you gave is that Charles is so bound up in idealism that even though he thinks it would be inconsiderate to tell Lucie where he is going, he doesn't have the foresight to see that the consequences of his actions might have a much bigger impact on her--and his decision almost destroys them all.
His problem is a lack of understanding and empathy. He is saved in the end by his double, who lacks his idealism, but has what Charles does not: an insight into the motivations of others, and the complexities of human interaction.
Alright. End rant. This turned out a lot longer than I thought it would, but it is my favorite topic.

It's a very interesting topic, and I like your take on it. It's true that Darnay's idealism both uplifts and undermines him. One wonders what he was like -- if he changed at all, and how -- after the events of the story. He'd be deeply remorseful, there's no doubt about that.

That's a really great assessment, Scrabcake - that's kind of what I've been trying to say about the various heroines (*coughAgnescough*), also. In Dickens' stories, which are always full of zany characters, the really normal ones seem as dull as rocks. :)

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