The Likeness Congratulations

Left (A): "The Likeness," Book II, Chapter 3 (for July, 1859; issued 4 June 1859 in the weekly parts): see Penguin edition (1970), opposite 104.

Right (B): "Congratulations," Book II, Chapter 4 (for July, 1859; monthly part issued in June): see Penguin edition (1970), opposite 170. [Click upon illustrations for larger images.]

The third and fourth plates, for July, The Likeness and Congratulations, repeat the small-scale/large-scale dichotomy of the first number's illustrations. In The Likeness, Elizabeth Cayzer in The Dickensian 1986, 3, speculates upon the reason behind Browne's departing from Dickens's text:

Sydney Carton is asked to "lay aside his wig" (Book II, chapter 3) in order that his appearance may be compared with that of Charles Darnay. The artist sensibly leaves Carton with his wig on, in the plate illustrating the scene, as his contribution to the tension caused for the surprised on-lookers. [4]

The courtroom is in uproar, according to Browne, even prior to the instruction by the presiding magistrate (extreme left, looking at his documents while the rest of the court regards the remarkable facial similarity between Darnay, in the dock and at the same height as the magistrate, and Carton on the floor of the court) that his learned friend to lay aside his wig to verify the likeness. This realisation is, in fact, not a deviation from the written text, but a demonstration of how carefully Browne has read that text. The judgment that Browne has exercised is evident in his choosing to depict both their facial likeness and their different roles: the prisoner (in profile only) is in the dock, guarded and behind a row of confining spikes; however, the attorney (face in profile, but body turned to reveal the full figure), in casual pose, hand on his hip, is self-possessed, at ease, and free. Finally, on a level with the accused is reader's analogue, the magistrate, who, receiving competing histories of events on that night in November 1775, must sort out who is telling the truth and what that truth is. Only later will we apprehend one further continuing character in the mêlée: the mysterious figure immediately behind Carton (Jerry Cruncher).

In both plates of the second number, Carton is alienated: in "The Likeness," he is detached from the others in the court by being depicted almost head-to-foot, slightly right of center, and dividing the jurymen in their box from the rest of the group scene of swirling action; in the stasis of "Congratulations," Carton is socially isolated more obviously from the main group, leaning aloofly right-rear, the casualness of the pose again suggestive of a nature "slovenly if not debauched" (Book II, Chapter 3, p. 104). Here, however, the similarity in dress (and therefore social class) between attorney and client becomes much more obvious since Browne has placed Darnay center, and drawn him head-to-foot in knee-stockings, breeches, and trim frock-coat. Lucie, in a large hoop-skirt of the period, is positioned exactly between her future husband and her admirer, visually "the golden thread" (Book II, Chapter 4, p. 10).

Major figures from "The Likeness" — except Stryver — are repeated in the frontispiece for the novel, Under the Plane Tree (issued in the final, "double" number of the monthly instalments) in which Carton is presented once again as being outside the charmed circle (although, once dead, he will be ever-present in the survivors' thoughts). The Pilgrim editors' note that the plate shows "Lucie and Charles Darnay, after their wedding, with Dr. Manette, Mr. Lorry and Miss Pross, drinking wine under the plane-tree of the Manettes' London garden" (36). As in Congratulations, Carton's listless pose and darkened face (shaded by the arch in the former plate, and by the plane tree in the latter) convey his alienation and depression, in contrast to the to joy of the rest of the company, who are paired off and seated around the sacramental bread and wine. Carton facially is almost a doppelganger for Darnay, a conception Dickens had experimented with ten years earlier in The Haunted Man (1848) in giving the gloomy protagonist, Redlaw (who, like Carton and the author himself, suffers from an ennui induced by a painful childhood experience), an even darker genius. In all three plates, Carton is leaning (on the prisoner's dock, against the arch, and against the tree), observing the others rather than joining in, being the most significant background detail in Congratulations and Under the Plane-Tree and connecting the visual sequence from an earlier month to the last.

Related Materials

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Cayzer, Elizabeth. "Dickens and His Late Illustrators. A Change in Style: Phiz and A Tale of Two Cities." Dickensian 86, 3 (Autumn, 1990): 30-4.

Cohen, Jane R. "Part Two. Dickens and His Principal Illustrator. Ch. 4. Hablot Browne." Charles Dickens and His Original Illustrators. Columbus: University of Ohio Press, 1980. Pp. 61-124.

Daiches, David, and John Flower. Literary Landscapes of the British Isles: A Narrative Atlas. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981.

Dickens, Charles. The Letters of Charles Dickens. Vol. 9 (1859-61), ed. Madeline House, Graham Storey, and Kathleen Tillotson. Oxford: Clarendon, 1999.

______. (1859). A Tale of Two Cities, ed. Andrew Sanders. World's Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980.

Pevsner, Nikolaus. The Buildings of England: London I: The Cities of London and Westminster. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1957.

Sanders, Andrew. The Companion to A Tale of Two Cities. London: Unwin Hyman, 1988.