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."