A Tale of Two Cities


In the fictitious novel Tale of Two Cities, the author, Charles 
Dickens, lays out a brilliant plot. Charles Dickens was born in
England on February 7, 1812 near the south coast. His family moved to 
London when he was ten years old and quickly went into debt. To help 
support himself, Charles went to work at a blacking warehouse when he 
was twelve. His father was soon imprisoned for debt and shortly 
thereafter the rest of the family split apart. Charles continued to 
work at the blacking warehouse even after his father inherited some 
money and got out of prison. When he was thirteen, Dickens went back 
to school for two years. He later learned shorthand and became a 
freelance court reporter. He started out as a journalist at the
age of twenty and later wrote his first novel, The Pickwick Papers. He 
went on to write many other novels, including Tale of Two Cities in 

 Tale of Two Cities takes place in France and England during the 
troubled times of the French Revolution. There are travels by the 
characters between the countries, but most of the action takes place 
in Paris, France. The wineshop in Paris is the hot spot for the French 
revolutionists, mostly because the wineshop owner, Ernest Defarge, and 
his wife, Madame Defarge, are key leaders and officials of the 
revolution. Action in the book is scattered out in many places; such 
as the Bastille, Tellson's Bank, the home of the Manettes, and 
largely, the streets of Paris. These places help to introduce many 
characters into the plot.

 One of the main characters, Madame Therese Defarge, is a major 
antagonist who seeks revenge, being a key revolutionist. She is very 
stubborn and unforgiving in her cunning scheme of revenge on the 
Evermonde family. Throughout the story, she knits shrouds for the 
intended victims of the revolution. Charles Darnay, one of whom Mrs. 
Defarge is seeking revenge, is constantly being put on the stand and 
wants no part of his own lineage. He is a languid protagonist and has 
a tendency to get arrested and must be bailed out several times during 
the story. Dr. Alexander Manette, a veteran prisoner of the Bastille 
and moderate protagonist, cannot escape the memory of being held and 
sometimes relapses to cobbling shoes. Dr. Manette is somewhat 
redundant as a character in the novel, but plays a very significant 
part in the plot. Dr. Manette's daughter, Lucie Manette, a positive 
protagonist, is loved by many and marries Charles Darnay . She is a 
quiet, emotional person and a subtle protagonist in the novel. One who 
never forgot his love for Lucie, the protagonist Sydney Carton changed 
predominately during the course of the novel. Sydney , a look-alike of 
Charles Darnay, was introduced as a frustrated, immature alcoholic, 
but in the end, made the ultimate sacrifice for a good friend. These 
and other characters help to weave an interesting and dramatic plot.

 Dr. Manette has just been released from the Bastille, and Lucie, 
eager to meet her father whom she thought was dead, goes with Mr. 
Jarvis Lorry to bring him back to England. Dr. Manette is in an insane 
state from his long prison stay and does nothing but cobble shoes, 
although he is finally persuaded to go to England. Several years 
later, Lucie, Dr. Manette, and Mr. Lorry are witnesses at the trial of 
Charles Darnay. Darnay, earning his living as a tutor, frequently 
travels between England and France and is accused of treason in his 
home country of France. He is saved from being prosecuted by Sydney 
Carton, who a witness confuses for Darnay, thus not making the case 
positive. Darnay ended up being acquitted for his presumed crime. 
Darnay and Carton both fall in love with Lucie and want to marry her. 
Carton, an alcoholic at the time, realizes that a relationship with 
Lucie is impossible, but he still tells her that he loves her and 
would do anything for her. Darnay and Lucie marry each other on the
premises of the two promises between Dr. Manette and Darnay. Right 
after the marriage, while the newlyweds are on their honeymoon, Dr. 
Manette has a relapse and cobbles shoes for nine days straight.

 France's citizens arm themselves for a revolution and, led by the 
Defarges, start the revolution by raiding the Bastille. Shortly
before the start of the revolution, the Marquis runs over a child in 
the streets of Paris. He is assassinated soon after by Gaspard, the 
child's father, who is also a part of the revolution. Three years 
later, right in the middle of the revolution, Darnay is called to 
France to help Gabelle, an old friend. As soon as he goes down what 
seems to be a one-way street to France, he is arrested (in France) for 
being an enemy of the state. Dr. Manette, Lucie, and the Darnay's 
daughter go shortly after to Paris to see if they can be of any help 
to Charles. When the delayed trial finally takes place, Dr. Manette, 
who is in the people's favor, uses his influence to free Charles. The 
same day, Charles is re-arrested on charges set forth by the Defarges 
and one other mystery person. The next day, at a trial that had 
absolutely no delay, Charles is convicted and sentenced to death. 
Because of the despondent situation, Dr. Manette has a relapse and 
cobbles shoes. Sydney Carton overhears plot to kill Lucie, her
daughter, and Dr. Manette and has them immediately get ready to leave 
the country. Carton, having spy contacts, gets into the prison in 
which Darnay is being held, drugs him and switches places with him. 
Lucie, Charles, and their daughter successfully leave the country. 
Sydney Carton, making the ultimate sacrifice, partly for Lucie, goes 
to the guillotine in place of Charles. Just before he dies, Carton has 
a vision in which society is greatly improved and the Darnays have a 
son named after him. This dramatic plot revolves around several 
central themes.

 One theme involves revenge. One's bad side is brought out by the 
evil effects of revenge. Madame Defarge is the main subject of this 
implicit theme. She turns into a killing machine because she must get 
revenge. An example of this is when she finds out Charles Darnay is an 
Evermonde and is going to marry Lucie Manette. She knits Darnay's name 
into the death register. Another key theme in the novel has to do with 
courage and sacrifice. There were many sacrifices in this novel by 
many different characters. The ultimate sacrifice was made by Sydney 
Carton. Because of his love for Lucie and his friendship with Darnay,
Carton is the example of one of the most important themes implied in 
this book. Carton helps others, and does not think so much of himself. 
Right before going to the guillotine, Carton sees a better world, a 
world where he gave to others, not thinking
of himself. These themes help outline an interesting story.


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