Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dickens' Sydney Carton (Tale of 2 Cities) ~ A Speculative Natal Chart

Syndey Carton from A Tale of Two Cities is, for me, Dickens' most memorable character - and that's saying a lot, for the author created so many vivid characters.

Next month will see the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens' birth, by the way.

I got to wondering about a (fictional) natal chart for Sydney Carton. I can find no hint of when he was said to have been born. We know that he was English, practiced law in London - so "born in London" will suffice for this purpose. We know from Dickens' descriptions that Carton, though a barrister of early promise and sharp intellect, was unmotivated, the "idlest and most unpromising of men", and "a problem of carelessness and recklessness". We come to realise that Carton is, if not an actual alcoholic, then well on his way to it. He is often morose, says at one point, "I am a disappointed drudge, sir. I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me" . However, in the course of the story's unfolding we see that he is capable of a secret deep unrequited and eventually tragic love. As a result he sees his saving grace being the ability to sacrifice himself for this love. We read Carton's famous last words:
"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."

Let's see then......Which Sun sign fits the stereotype? I'm going with Sun in Pisces, ruled by Neptune. I'll need an actual date to construct a chart. We don't know Carton's age, but we do have dates for historic events which form the setting of the novel, and likely dates for many events detailed. The court case when Sydney Carton saves Charles Darnay, by pointing out that he and Darnay are so alike that a witness could not possibly be certain he saw Darnay at a crucial time, is said be set in 1780. The last scene of the novel when Carton goes to the guillotine is set in 1793. I'm guessing that Carton would have been around age 35 in 1780, the time of the court hearing when Darnay was being tried for treason. This gives a birth year of 1745. A speculative birth date, with Sun in Pisces: 18 March 1745, using 12 noon brings up:

I like it! Look at Saturn and Mars opposing his late Pisces Sun - these two traditional "malefics" would act on a normally gentle Pisces Sun, driving it to melancholy - and likely to drink. Neptune, Pisces ruler is in sensitive Cancer and forms a Grand Trine on Water signs with Jupiter in Scorpio and Neptune in Pisces - a powerful harmonious emotional circuit - but note that Pluto is conjunct Jupiter, bringing a dark and secretive element into the circuit. Mercury in Pisces and Uranus in is own sign Aquarius are in semisextile, linking in a bit of the unexpected, a bit of eccentricity.

Moon might have been in Libra or in Virgo depending on time of birth - I'd go for Libra, representing a basic feeling of decency beneath an unfortunate exterior.

A fitting rising sign? Let's see......the way he was seen by others - a bit of a slob, generally unpleasant, hiding his true worth, both mentally and about Scorpio (the duality of the scorpion and the eagle) rising putting Pluto/Jupiter on the ascendant?

Here's an extra tidbit of symbolism used by Charles Dickens via the character's name. Sydney derives from (Norman) French. Saint Denis (from Latin Dionysius) would be pronounced something like "S'Deni', which in English became Sidney. Dionysus aka Bacchus, Greek god of wine, represents Carton's alcoholism. Saint Denis, patron saint of Paris and a martyr who also by decapitation an echo of Carton's death at the guillotine.

A Tale of Two Cities has been presented on film, stage (as a musical), radio and TV numerous times over the years. Sydney Carton has been played by, among many others, Ronald Colman, Dirk Bogarde, Peter Wyngarde, Orson Welles; and my own favourite portrayal by James Wilby (right) in a 1989 UK TV mini-series.

To end this post, the wonderful words which begin the novel~~
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoc of belief, it was the epoc of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."


James Higham said...

Let's see......the way he was seen by others - a bit of a slob, generally unpleasant, hiding his true worth, both mentally and morally

That's men generally, isn't it?

Twilight said...

"You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment."


Kitty Lane said...

1752 or 1753. He's classmates with Stryver (who is not more than 30 in 1780,) but closer in age to Darnay, having been an academically advanced pupil. I'm going with Sagitarius or Aquarius. He makes it to age 41 but Mr. Lorry still calls him "young."

Twilight said...

Kitty Lane ~ Hi there - thanks for pointing me back to this 2012 post again, and for adding your thoughts on Carton's likely Sun sign. Hmm - Aquarius could fit the academically gifted/advanced side of him. Sagittarius? It's a favourite sign of mine, and I kind of liked Sydney Carton, but I didn't really see a Sagittarian-type character in him. I'm still leaning towards Pisces, perhaps with Mercury and Venus in Aquarius though. :-)