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A Tale of Two Cities


The Author
The Characters
Book 1 Chapter 1
Book 1 Chapters 2-3
Book 1 Chapter 4
Book 1 Chapter 5
Book 1 Chapter 6
Book 2 Chapters1-2
Book 2 Chapters3-4
Book 2 Chapters 5-6
Book 2 Chapters 7-8
Book 2 Chapter 9
Book 2 Chapters 10-12
Book 2 Chapters 13-14
Book 2 Chapters 15-16
Book 2 Chapters 17-19
Book 2 Chapters 20-22
Book 2 Chapters 23-24
Book 3 Chapter1
Book 3 Chapter 2
Book 3 Chapter 3
Book 3 Chapter 4
Book 3 Chapter 5
Book 3 Chapter 6
Book 3 Chapter 7
Book 3 Chapter 8
Book 3 Chapter 9
Book 3 Chapter 10
Book 3 Chapter 11
Book 3 Chapter 12
Book 3 Chapter 13
Book 3 Chapter 14
Book 3 Chapter 15



Questions for Study with ideas for answers.

Q: Dickens uses duality throughout the novel. Apart from the obvious Darnay/Carton resemblance, give examples of similar dualities for characters and events.

Ideas: Lucie Manette/Mme. Defarge are opposites.  Lucie represents the ideal, natural woman, daughter, wife, mother whereas Mme. Defarge is wholly unnatural being vengeful, mother of the Revolution, not giving life, but giving death, and without scruples. 

The Evremonde twins are the same.  They are both evil and feed on each other’s depravity making them double the force.

Stryver & Carton/Darnay & Dr. Manette - meetings re wishing to marry Lucie. These two scenes are mirror images of each other in that Stryver’s reasons for wishing to marry Lucie are purely practical and misguided whereas Darnay is clearly in love with Lucie and he respects her. 

London/Paris.  Both these cities have extremes of wealth and poverty, but the excesses of the rich are more extravagant in Paris where the aristocrats feel totally secure in their way of life and cannot envisage any change.  In London the Law is used to greater effect in keeping the lower classes subdued where three-quarters of offences carry the death penalty. The rich do not broadcast their affluence to the same degree that the French aristocracy does and this may be due to the fact that the fight for independence in America has tempered their exuberance.

Carriages/carts. At the start of Book 1 the aristocrats would drive recklessly through the city streets and on one occasion the Evremonde coach killed a child.  At the end of Book 3 the aristocrats are taken through the city streets in carts to the guillotine to face their execution.


Q: The theme of resurrection runs through the entire novel.  Give examples.

Ideas: Mr. Lorry resurrects Dr. Manette after eighteen years of living death in the Bastille.

Jerry Cruncher resurrects dead bodies from their graves to the slabs of dissecting doctors.

Roger Cly fakes his own funeral and is resurrected as a prison spy in revolutionary France.

Charles Darnay is firstly resurrected in London by Sidney Carton and then secondly in Paris again by Sidney Carton who makes the ultimate sacrifice.

Sidney Carton’s wasted life is resurrected by his selfless act of substituting himself to face execution in place of Darnay.  He goes to his death with the satisfaction of knowing that his life now has meaning, comforted by the Biblical quote ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.


Q: Some of Dickens’ phrases encapsulate for the reader all the information that is required on a specific theme in the book and these have become famous quotations. Give examples of some of these.

Ideas: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness’. The narrator makes this statement and in doing so sets the scene for this entire period of history.  The reader is in no doubt what is going to follow. There will be good and bad times for the heroes and heroines of this story.

‘I have sometimes sat alone here of an evening, listening, until I have made the echoes out to be the echoes of all the footsteps that are coming by-and-by into our lives’.  Lucie Manette makes this remark whilst living in London and it is a premonition she has that soon her life and that of her future family will be filled with turmoil.  The echoes of footsteps are those that she will hear close-by when she will find herself in revolution-torn France.

‘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’. Carton has finally triumphed over his wasted life by making this final sacrificial act, which gives him peace of mind knowing how much good will come out of his death.  

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