Six Degrees: From Mr. Poe to Mr. Stryver
Six Degrees time again, folks! And once again, I was without a character up my sleeve for the longest time. Jenelle wrote last week about Lemony Snickett’s Series of unfortunate events and unfortunately I was drawing a blank on the characters the mentioned. For the longest time I was fixated on either Violet or Claud. Both seemed so interesting and yet I just could not summon up anyone who was either a book worm with a photographic memory or a thinker who liked to build contraptions.
I eventually settled on Mr. Poe. A self-focused businessman who proved oblivious to the plight of the children he could have helped. This character reminded me somewhat of Mr. Stryver from Dickens’ classic, A Tale of Two Cities. Having not read Mr. Snicket’s Series, I hope that this match hits the mark. Mr. Styver does initially prove helpful to one of the protagonists, Mr. Charles Darnay, but later it becomes apparent that he really only cares about his career and reputation. A lawyer by trade, he initially frees Darnay of the crime he is charged of. Darnay, a man of noble bearing who is seeking to leave behind his French aristocratic upbringing.
Darnay eventually falls in love with and wins the heart of the angelic Lucie Manette. A truly simple and innocent girl, Ms. Manette seems to have a truly heavenly effect on those around her, especially her father Doctor Manette. Reading the doctor’s story was heartbreaking. Driven half mad by some terrible events in his past (which are not revealed until near the end of the novel), he drifts somewhere between a kind-hearted father and a hallucinating shell of a human being doomed to live out his torturous memories. Only the presence of his daughter seems to offer any real hope that he will ever live a normal life.
For a time it looks like Lucie, Darnay, and the doctor will live a quiet and peaceful life, but the events of the French Revolution and in particular the machinations of Monsieur and Madame Defarge stir up those otherwise tranquil waters into a veritable maelstrom of death, violence, and suffering, which threatens to sweep Lucie and the two men she loves into everlasting sorrow and loss. Though Monsieur Defarge begins the story as a simple wine shop owner, he and his wife become central figures of the bloody revolution, wielding the power of life and death over those caught in their clutches. Madame Defarge, in particular, is chillingly portrayed always knitting and always plotting her revenge on the abusive upper classes which have cause the French people such heartache and misery. Though Monsieur Defarge’s desire to see the nobility brought to justice is somewhat checked by his compassion, not so with his wife. Her thirst for that vengeance appears to know no limits. The more she exacts, the more she seems to require and by the end of the story she has transformed into a truly frightening force for evil.
There are many delightful secondary characters in this story as well, including the stout and decidedly English matron Miss Pross who is fiercely loyal to Lucie and more than makes up for in courage and spunk what she may lack in insight and worldly experience. There is also Jarvis Lorry, another tireless advocate for Lucie, the doctor, and Charles. An elderly and unmarried banking agent, he looks after the family with a businesslike, and yet also tender tenacity, doing all that is humanly possible to help rescue them from their troubles. In return, he is adopted into the Manette family almost as if he were one of their own.
But there is one unforgettable character whom I have yet to mention and I have saved him deliberately until the end. For of all the characters whom Lucie’s mercy and grace touch in the novel, her influence on the insolent scoundrel Sydney Carton ends up being the most profound. He is a profligate in the truest sense of the word, an alcoholic who is slowly destroying his life and aware of that fact, yet powerless to change his destiny. His one redeeming quality, though, is that he loves Lucie Manette. She is everything that he is not and deep down he realizes that a life with her true love Charles Darnay will bring her joy and happiness which he could never give her. I won’t spoil the story for those who have not read it, but if you have read this story, the character of Sydney Carton will likely forever be engraved in your memory.
So there you have the next round of characters from which to chose from. I always look forward to hearing what the next set of characters will be and it’s safe to say that I have not had a clue up to this point where any of the responses would go with these posts. And that’s the fun of it! Because there are so many Kool Books.