A Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensMy primary goal when Im teaching A Tale of Two Cities to my sophomores is to make them realize that Charles Dickens didnt write creaky, dusty long novels that teachers embraced as a twisted rite of passage for teenagers. Instead, I want them them to understand why Dickens was
I have a difficult time writing reviews about books that I adore because, when Im not reading them, I hug them too closely to be very critical. (BTW - I frequently hug A Tale of Two Cities in front of my students... and write Charles Dickens name with hearts around it... They think Im crazy, but it intrigues some of them just enough to make them doubt the derisive comments of upperclassmen.) I reluctantly admit that Dickens does oversimplify the causes of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror; however, in doing so, he successfully captures the spirit of a tumultuous period and helps readers sympathize with characters on every side of the developing conflict. I also think that the characters of Roger Cly and John Barsad get a bit messy and may have worked better as a single character. Perhaps the confusion is a result of serialization restructuring. But, really, I read A Tale of Two Cities like a costumed Lord of the Rings fan at a movie premier. I cheer when my favorite characters enter scenes and I knowingly laugh when Dickens cleverly foreshadows future events.
Though I dont think that A Tale of Two Cities is Dickens best novel--that title I would reserve for either Bleak House or David Copperfield--I do agree with Dickens, who claims that it was his best story. It is artfully written. Dickens introduces a cast of characters, sprawled across two nations and spanning varied social classes and political affiliations, and then effortlessly weaves their stories and secrets together in a masterful way. The Modernist movement painstakingly forced literature to reflect the ambiguities and uncertainties of the real world and thats great, but sometimes it is a real joy to read a story that ends with such magnificent closure. All mysteries are solved and everything makes sense. It is beautiful.
(I have to admit that I was overjoyed when a group of my fifth period girls persistently voiced their disdain for Dickens angel in the house Lucie and backed Madame Defarge. I think they may have created a Madame Defarge myspace, actually. Oh how the times have changed.)
Ms. R--, you got me. What? At the beginning of this book, you said you would get some of us. And that we would love it. You got me. I didnt get you G--. Charles Dickens did. I just introduced you.
A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.
A Tale of Two Cities Summary
It is , and Mr. Jarvis Lorry is traveling to Dover to meet Lucie Manette. He tells her that she is not an orphan as she had been told from a young age. He now says that he will travel with her to Paris to meet her father, who has recently been released from the Bastille. Doctor Manette is housed in the Defarges' wine-shop and has lost his reason, but he starts to regain it when he meets his daughter and is transported back to London.
The year is , and social ills plague both France and England. Lorry escorts Lucie to Paris, where they meet Defarge, a former servant of Doctor Manette, who has kept Manette safe in a garret. Driven mad by eighteen years in the Bastille, Manette spends all of his time making shoes, a hobby he learned while in prison. Lorry assures Lucie that her love and devotion can recall her father to life, and indeed they do. The year is now Charles Darnay stands accused of treason against the English crown.
Feb 06, ISBN With dramatic eloquence, he brings to life a time of terror and treason, a starving people rising in frenzy and hate to overthrow a corrupt and decadent regime. With insight and compassion, Dickens casts his novel of unforgettable scenes with some memorable characters: the sinister Madame Defarge, knitting her patterns of death; the gentle Lucie Manette, unswerving in her devotion to her broken father; Charles Darnay, the lover with a secret past; and dissolute Sydney Carton, whose unlikely heroism gives his life meaning. The second of eight children, he grew up in a family frequently beset by financial insecurity. When the family fortunes improved, Charles went back to… More about Charles Dickens.
The novel tells the story of the French Doctor Manette, his year-long imprisonment in the Bastille in Paris and his release to live in London with his daughter Lucie, whom he had never met. The story is set against the conditions that led up to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. Dickens' famous opening sentence introduces the universal approach of the book, the French Revolution, and the drama depicted within:.
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Read a Plot Overview of the entire book or a chapter by chapter Summary and Analysis. Here's where you'll find analysis about the book as a whole, from the major themes and ideas to analysis of style, tone, point of view, and more. Find the quotes you need to support your essay, or refresh your memory of the book by reading these key quotes. Test your knowledge of A Tale of Two Cities with our quizzes and study questions, or go further with essays on context, background, and movie adaptations, plus links to the best resources around the web. Get ready to write your paper on A Tale of Two Cities with our suggested essay topics, sample essays, and more.
The story is set in the late 18th century against the background of the French Revolution. The scenes of large-scale mob violence are especially vivid, if superficial in historical understanding. While political events drive the story, Dickens takes a decidedly antipolitical tone, lambasting both aristocratic tyranny and revolutionary excess—the latter memorably caricatured in Madame Defarge , who knits beside the guillotine. A Tale of Two Cities. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback.