Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Favorite Literary Heroes: Sydney Carton

In connection with The Literary Heroine blog party, I am starting a series of posts on my favorite heroes, literary or otherwise. They will be posted in no particular order, although the absolute favorites do manage to sneak in near the top.

Sydney Carton
I've liked Sydney ever since I first read A Tale of Two Cities. But, on first glance, there doesn't seem much to like about him. Yes, he did save Charles Darnay's life at the cost of his own, but that, some might say, was at an impulse and it wasn't like he enjoyed his life anyways. The 'far, far better thing' seems to be the only good thing that he ever does. His life before his death is wasted.

Sydney Carton is brilliant. I think the real thing about him is that he saw the meaninglessness of life without God.

"'Meaningless, meaningless,' says the teacher. 'Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless! What do men gain from all their labours at which they toil under the sun?'" (NIV)

Sydney was brilliant enough to realize that life without God is meaningless. And if it is meaningless then it wouldn't matter what he did with his time, whether he spent all his life getting drunk or did something that benifited his fellow man.

Human love begins to take Sydney out of his meaninglessness. But even there his beloved marries another man. This is one spot where Sydney Carton shows his true character. He wants Lucie to be happy. Many lovers want their beloved to be happy - just with them.

"But God was kind, He had for you a better plan
And saved you from the pain of loving me."

MELT. God was kind. He had a better plan. Not just 'maybe it's good that this happened after all' but 'God was kind.' He did the best thing that could be done, and Sydney is content with that.
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.

With human love, Sydney Carton begins to find meaning. And self-sacrifice for love makes him see a higher love, a love that truly gives life meaning.
"I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."


Jemimah C. said...

What a delightful new series of posts! Sydney Carton is also a favorite literary hero of mine. And I agree with everything you stated here. Well written, indeed!

Anne-girl said...

*sniff* Sydney Carton is my favorite and I haven't even read the book yet!

Maria Elisabeth said...

May I suggest that you read the book as soon as you can, or, at least, the end? Just beautiful....

Maria Elisabeth said...

He's one of my favorite heroes too. This post was made from a series of thoughts wondering why he deserved the title of hero in the first place.

Miss Dashwood said...

I adoooooooooore Sydney Carton, and I absolutely love that song. To pieces.
The way Sydney Carton showed love to Lucie was so much bigger and better and more awe-inspiring than what often passes for "romance" these days. Loving her enough to see her happy with someone else--and then, even when it began to look like he might have a chance with her (hey, if Charles died, she'd be a widow!) he crushed the idea and instead made the ultimate sacrifice so she would be happy.
Wow.... love never fails.
This is going to be an amazing series!!!

Alexandra said...

Absolutely *gorgeous* post. Sydney is an absolutely amazing hero. And of the song. :-)

Maria Elisabeth said...

Miss Dashwood,
Exactly. And, as to the series, I'm in the habit of believing you, so I'm almost convinced it will be amazing. (But I suppose *I* have to work on that.....)

I *do* love the song too - even more than the amazing 'I Can't Recall.' You introduced me to both of them, if I recall. :P

Oh, and by the way, my little sister saw your profile picture and said you were pretty. There's your compliment for the day. :)

Lydia said...

Dear Miss Georgiana Darcy, i recently found your blog and have enjoyed it very much. i am a Jane Austen fan VERY much! my favorite character is Lizzy i guess because i am exactly like her... i am not joking... i also LOVE the scarlet Pimpernel and was wondering if you could post or do something that tells all the Scarlet Pimpernel books. because i have only read the 1st and am DYING to read the rest, but i don't know how many there are or what they are called! thank you sooooooo much!

Maria Elisabeth said...

I'm trying not to save the Scarlet Pimpernel posts for my TSP related blog, 'The Day Dream.' (You can get to it from the button on my sidebar) On The Day Dream there is a page called 'The Books'. On it there are the titles of all the books, with their dates, etc. You can get them as free ebooks from or or some of them as audiobooks from

Hope that helps!

Lady Disdain said...

Hi there,
I just stumbled onto our blog through Jane Austen Today - I clicked through several blogs before finding yours :P
Anyway, this post really caught my eye. Carton is one of my FAVORITE heroes! I adore him - not just for his self-lessness but also for his personality - his dry, sarcastic humor is great and - and - *sniff* it's so sad that he has to die. But I think that's part of what makes his character so can't complain really.

Tarissa said...

Oh! I am SO glad to have seen this post of yours about Sydney Carton. He is my favorite character too, in all of literature---at least right now. Before I read 'A Tale of Two Cities', a friend of mine said that he was a great character that she liked. I was looking forward to seeing what he was like, only to discover that he was a horrible, self-centered person all through the book. I couldn't understand her opinion of him, of course, until the final pages. Then it all rang true, and in an instant, Sydney Carson was a wonderful person in my eyes.

Sometimes I wish there was a sequel to 'A Tale of Two Cities', as I would like to know what Lucie & Charles' life was like afterward.