Some have argued that in Tale Dickens reflects on his recently begun affair with eighteen-year-old actress Ellen Ternan, which was possibly asexual but certainly romantic. The character of Lucie Manette resembles Ternan physically, and some have seen "a sort of implied emotional incest" in the relationship between Dr. Manette and his daughter. This might help explain the odd sense of guilt surrounding the demolition of Dr. Manette's shoe-making workbench by Miss Pross and Mr. Lorry, which is described as "the burning of the body".
Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay may also bear importantly on Dickens' personal life. The two look so alike that Carton twice saves Darnay through the inability of others to tell them apart. It is implied that Carton and Darnay not only look alike, but they possess identical "genetic" endowments (to use a term that Dickens would not have known): Carton is Darnay made bad. Carton suggests as much:
'Do you particularly like the man [Darnay]?' he muttered, at his own image [which he is regarding in a mirror]; 'why should you particularly like a man who resembles you? There is nothing in you to like; you know that. Ah, confound you! What a change you have made in yourself! A good reason for talking to a man, that he shows you what you have fallen away from and what you might have been! Change places with him, and would you have been looked at at by those blue eyes [belonging to Lucie Manette] as he was, and commiserated by that agitated face as he was? Come on, and have it out in plain words! You hate the fellow.'
Many have felt that Carton and Darnay are doppelgängers, which Eric Rabkin defines as a pair "of characters that together, represent one psychological persona in the narrative." If so, they would prefigure such works as Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Darnay is worthy and respectable but dull (at least to most modern readers), Carton disreputable but magnetic.
One can only suspect whose psychological persona it is that Carton and Darnay together embody (if they do), but it is often thought to be the psyche of Dickens himself. Dickens was quite aware that between them, Carton and Darnay shared his own initials. Furthermore, in early drafts of the novel, Darnay and Carton each individually had the same initials as Dickens, since in early drafts Carton's forename was Dick rather than Sydney.