C is for — Sidney Carton — from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.
I first read this story many years ago. Amidst the horror of the French Revolution, the characters sprang to life for me, their struggles so vivid they still haunt me. Lucie Manette, the loving innocent; her husband Charles Darnay, the French aristocrat who denies his birthright and tries to make good on his own; Madame Defarge, the Revolution personified; and Sydney Carton, the drunken lawyer who feels himself worthless. Carton falls in love with Lucie, and his noble feelings for her allow him to transcend what he considers a wasted life and give the ultimate sacrifice. The triumph and sorrow of the Tale’s ending stayed with me for days.
At the time, my own novel was still in its early stages, and I had no idea where my characters’ adventures would take them. There were a few characters I didn’t know very well, yet — one important character, in particular. But after reading A Tale of Two Cities, I had a sudden epiphany. I could see quite clearly in my mind the path this character was meant to follow. And as my story progressed through Book I : Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble, and later, Book II: Trouble By Any Other Name, he grew to be one of my favorites, and he did indeed follow the foreseen path to a hopeful and tragic and fitting end.