Fictional Attorney of the Month: Sydney Carton

Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities is perhaps best known among his non-A Christmas Carol works by those who have never read it, simply because of the opening line. But Sydney Carton is one of the great and underappreciated lawyers in all of literature.

He is young and brilliant, shrewd and skilled, filled with self-pity, and he, too, contains a great divide within himself. He seems to hate his client (or at least, is deeply of jealous of him), Charles Darnay, a man who is deeply similar to Carton but a man Carton sees as containing everything he despises.

Through Carton's skill, Darnay is acquitted on treason charges and returns to France, only to find himself arrested once again. It's then that Carton takes Darnay's place at the guillotine and offers one of the great lines of English literature:

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.

It is not for his legal skill alone, but also for his sacrifice at the end, that make him the Fictional Attorney of the Month.