Study Guide

A Tale of Two Cities

by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities Analysis

Places Discussed (Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Tellson & Co

Tellson & Co. English merchant bank with branches in London and Paris. The bank’s London office is dark, ugly, and staffed by old-fashioned bankers. Dickens describes the bank as resembling both a prison and a grave. As the oldest bank in England, Tellson’s is a symbol not only of English economic dominance but also of resistance to change. The bank’s London office is located “in the shadow” of Temple Bar, a large stone gateway which was used until 1780 to display on spikes the heads of executed criminals. The London office becomes a place of refuge for French aristocrats fleeing the violence of the revolution. In the yard of the bank’s Paris branch, the mob sharpens its weapons on a large grindstone, while the blood of already-executed victims drips from their clothes.

For Dickens, England is peaceful only on the exterior. Like France, it suffers from cruelty and widespread oppression of the majority of its population. The Old Regime in Europe comprises an upper class resistant to change and high-handed kings attempting to maintain the status quo. Dickens models Tellson’s Bank on Child and Company (founded in the seventeenth century on 1 Fleet Street and Thelusson’s Bank in Paris, in which a major financial adviser to King Louis XVI named Jacques Necker once worked).

*Saint Antoine

*Saint Antoine (sah[n]-tahn-twahn). Poor and densely populated district in Paris’s eastern suburb, where the attack on the Bastille takes place. It is an emotionally charged setting in which actions of violence and vengeance take place during the revolution. Descriptions of streets and buildings in Saint Antoine take on the character of the residents. It is at the main fountain in St. Antoine that a child is accidentally hit by the speeding coach of the marquis, who offers a few coins as a compensation for the child’s life.

Defarge’s Wine Shop

Defarge’s Wine Shop. Parisian wine shop which for Dickens is the eye of the storm that becomes the French Revolution. The shop serves as a meeting place for the leaders of the revolution. It is in front of the wine shop that one of the most memorable scenes in the novel takes place. A broken casket of wine results in neighborhood people rushing to salvage the precious drops of wine from the casket with their earthenware mugs, thus establishing not only an intoxicating brotherhood of blood but also one of wine.

*Bastille

*Bastille. Massive fortification in Paris that served as an armory and a prison for the four centuries preceding the French Revolution. Although it houses only four prisoners in 1789, the Bastille stands as a gargantuan symbol of the oppression of the Old Regime. In Cell 105, North Tower (a fictional creation), Dr. Manette languishes for eighteen years. As the revolution begins, a great firestorm surrounds the Bastille. Dickens borrows from Thomas Carlyle’s history The French Revolution (1837) in describing the storming of the Bastille in minute detail. It was at the Bastille that Defarge finds the letter from Dr. Manette that will later be used to condemn Darnay.

Château St. Evrémonde

Château St. Evrémonde (shah-toh sah[n]-tev-ray-MOHND). Sumptuous but heavily stoned mansion of the marquis. The villagers meet at the fountain at the château, and their rural poverty is stressed by Dickens. The descriptions of the stony home symbolize the coldness and inhumanity of the French aristocracy. The decadence of the marquis’ salon, at the château and in Paris, stands in stark contrast to the poverty of the general populace. It is the château life that Charles Darnay, the nephew of the marquis, rejects. Ultimately, after the assassination of the marquis, the château is destroyed by fire. Water boils in the fountain, followed by molten lead and iron; fountains symbolized life and also death for Dickens.

*Beauvais

*Beauvais (boh-VAY). French province that was the center of the fourteenth century serf revolt against the aristocracy. The revolt was bloodily suppressed. The Defarges originate from Beauvais, and their blood lust is an attempt to gain retribution for historical crimes. Beauvais, which is thirty miles north of Paris, is also the hometown of Dr. Manette. It is in Beauvais, a symbol of the rural violence of the French Revolution, where Darnay is almost killed by an infuriated mob.

*Dover Road

*Dover Road. Filled with ruts and clouded with steamy mist and fog, this access road to the ferry leaving Dover for France is a dangerous road to travel. Dickens uses it as a symbol of the rampant lawlessness still a part of England. Shooter’s Hill, near the road, is a thickly wooded rise that is the scene of many robberies by highwaymen. The hill was so named because of the many armed robberies that took place in the vicinity. In the novel, Dickens discusses many roads, all of which have metaphorical significance. In short, Dickens attempts to portray England as similar to France in burglaries, highway robberies, and exploitation of the general population by the elite minority.

*Soho Square

*Soho Square. London neighborhood that is the site of the Manettes’ secure and peaceful household, which is located in a fashionable square laid out in 1681. It is here that Lucie hears footsteps in a rainstorm, a symbol of the threat of revolution within England. For Dickens, although England is just across the English Channel, it is relatively secure compared to events on the Continent.

*La Force

*La Force. Prison used during the French Revolution for the proceedings of the Revolutionary Tribunal courts. La Force was the scene of the 1792 September Massacres, in which more than 1,100 accused counterrevolutionaries were massacred. The killing of prisoners is meant by Dickens as an ironic contrast to the saving of prisoners at the Bastille, three years earlier. It is at La Force (and three other prisons) that Dr. Manette tends to the medical needs of inmates.

A Tale of Two Cities Historical Context

Although A Tale of Two Cities takes place in a time some seventy years before Dickens was writing the novel, it does indirectly...

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A Tale of Two Cities Setting

Dickens sets A Tale of Two Cities primarily in Paris and London during one of the most turbulent periods of European history, the...

(The entire section is 504 words.)

A Tale of Two Cities Quizzes

Book the First, Chapters 1, 2 and 3 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What are the two cities of the novel’s title?

2. What purpose does the comparison of England and France serve?

3. What further comparison is implied by the connection of England and France?

4. Why is the coachman nervous when he hears a horse approaching?

5. What is the man on horseback’s true purpose, and what exchange takes place?

6. What does the narrator reflect upon concerning humankind?

7. For how long has the man in Jarvis Lorry’s thoughts been buried?

8. What else do we know of this man who has been “buried”?

9. Why is this all of the information the reader has on this subject?...

(The entire section is 254 words.)

Book the First, Chapter 4 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does Mr. Lorry do upon arrival in Dover?

2. Whom does Lorry meet here, and what plans do they make?

3. How does Lorry begin to tell Lucie that her father is not dead?

4. Why does he employ this method?

5. Why does Lorry insist to Lucie that all of his relations are mere business relations?

6. What does Lucie say upon learning that she is going to see her father?

7. What are the two conditions concerning Dr. Manette?

8. What is Lucie’s reaction to this?

9. Who comes into the room at this point to help Lucie?

10. What is problematic about this portrayal of Lucie Manette?

...

(The entire section is 299 words.)

Book the First, Chapter 5 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is happening at the beginning of this chapter?

2. What does the man write on the wall? What does this foreshadow?

3. What kind of town is Saint Antoine?

4. Who are the proprietors of the wine-shop?

5. What is the significance of the name “Jacques”?

6. What is the impression of Madame Defarge from this chapter?

7. Why does Defarge show Dr. Manette to the “Jacques”?

8. Where is Dr. Manette being held?

9. What is Lucie’s reaction upon seeing him?

10. What is Dr. Manette doing when they enter his room?

Answers
1. A cask of wine has broken...

(The entire section is 255 words.)

Book the First, Chapter 6 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is Dr. Manette’s condition?

2. What does Dr. Manette say his name is?

3. What is the significance of what he says?

4. What helps Dr. Manette begin to remember his past?

5. How soon do they decide to leave France?

6. Why does Mr. Lorry refer to “business” again?

7. What is Lucie’s “strength” in this chapter?

8. What is the importance of Dr. Manette returning to the shoe he is making?

9. What does Mr. Lorry say to Dr. Manette?

10. What is the nature of Dr. Manette’s reply? What function does his reply serve regarding the plot?

Answers
...

(The entire section is 251 words.)

Book the Second, Chapters 1 and 2 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How is Tellson’s Bank described at the beginning of the chapter?

2. What is the eighteenth century view of the death penalty in England?

3. Why does Jerry Cruncher call his wife “a conceited female,” and what is her reaction to this?

4. What is the significance of the striking physical resemblance between Jerry Cruncher and his son?

5. Why is there such a large crowd in the courtroom?

6. What does Jerry Cruncher ask the man who assumes that Darnay will be found guilty?

7. Why do all eyes in the courtroom turn to Lucie Manette?

8. How is Lucie Manette different from those around her in the courtroom?...

(The entire section is 305 words.)

Book the Second, Chapter 3 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does the Attorney-General say about the prisoner in his opening statements?

2. Who are the two witnesses that the Attorney-General says will incriminate Darnay?

3. How does Stryver show that these two men are not credible witnesses?

4. Why is Lucie Manette called to the witness stand?

5. What did Darnay tell Lucie on the ship five years ago?

6. What leads to Darnay’s acquittal?

7. What problem concerning Dickens’ use of plot does this reveal?

8. What happens to Lucie Manette, once again, in this chapter?

9. What is the final line of this chapter?

10. What are the implications...

(The entire section is 304 words.)

Book the Second, Chapters 4 and 5 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is happening at the beginning of Chapter 4?

2. How does Darnay greet Lucie?

3. How does Dr. Manette look at Darnay? What does this mean?

4. What does their conversation reveal as the difference between Lorry and Carton?

5. What happens while Carton and Darnay are dining?

6. Why does Carton say that he hates Darnay?

7. Why do Stryver and Carton meet?

8. What does Carton say about Lucie?

9. What else does Carton complain about?

10. What does the final paragraph say about Sydney Carton?

Answers
1. Dr. Manette, Lucie, Lorry, and Stryver are...

(The entire section is 202 words.)

Book the Second, Chapter 6 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Where is Mr. Lorry going at the beginning of this chapter?

2. What is the tone of this chapter?

3. Is Miss Pross’ claim that “hundreds of people” visit the house accurate?

4. What has Miss Pross’ brother done to her?

5. What has Dr. Manette kept as a reminder of his 18 years in prison?

6. Who else comes to the Manettes’ house on this Sunday?

7. What is odd about Dr. Manette’s house?

8. Of what is this symbolic?

9. What happens when a storm approaches?

10. What is foreshadowed by the storm?

Answers
1. He is on his way to dine with Lucie...

(The entire section is 235 words.)

Book the Second, Chapters 7 and 8 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is the Marquis’ party like?

2. What does the Marquis believe about himself?

3. Describe what the Marquis looks like.

4. What happens as the Marquis is traveling to his chateau?

5. What is his reaction to this?

6. What does Defarge say to the distraught man in the nightcap?

7. What does Defarge do with the coin that the Marquis throws to him?

8. What does the mender of roads tell the Marquis?

9. What does this man represent?

10. How does this chapter end?

Answers
1. It is incredibly decadent, full of morally corrupt people who are only...

(The entire section is 226 words.)

Book the Second, Chapter 9 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is the Marquis’ chateau like?

2. What happens when the Marquis sits down to dinner?

3. What does this reveal about the Marquis?

4. Who is the nephew of the Marquis?

5. How does Darnay feel about the family name?

6. What does his uncle reply?

7. What is the larger issue at stake in this conversation?

8. What is the Marquis’ final word about class?

9. What does Darnay do concerning the property in France?

10. How does this chapter end?

Answers
1. His chateau is described as silent and made of stone.

2. He thinks that he hears...

(The entire section is 202 words.)

Book the Second, Chapters 10 and 11 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is Charles Darnay’s occupation?

2. What does this reveal about his character?

3. What do Darnay and Dr. Manette discuss?

4. How does Dr. Manette react when Darnay tells him that he has a secret to reveal to him?

5. What does Dr. Manette do after Darnay leaves?

6. What does this reveal about Dr. Manette’s character?

7. How does Lucie help Dr. Manette when she finds him at the shoemaker’s bench?

8. What does Stryver wish to confide to Carton?

9. What is Stryver’s opinion of Carton?

10. Why is this opinion problematic?

Answers
1. He is a...

(The entire section is 225 words.)

Book the Second, Chapters 12 and 13 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does Stryver decide to do at the beginning of the chapter?

2. What is the gist of Stryver’s conversation with Lorry?

3. How does Stryver react to this?

4. What does this say about his character?

5. Is Lorry capable of having both a business life and a personal life?

6. What is Stryver’s final comment about Lucie?

7. Who pays a call on Lucie?

8. How does Carton look to Lucie?

9. What does Carton tell Lucie?

10. Why does Carton love Lucie?

Answers
1. He decides to tell Lucie of his intentions so that she may know she is going to be happy....

(The entire section is 211 words.)

Book the Second, Chapter 14 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What passes by Tellson’s Bank?

2. What is the crowd shouting?

3. What does the crowd do after the body is put in the ground?

4. Mr. Cruncher takes what tools with him when he goes out later that night?

5. Why does young Jerry follow his father? What does he find out?

6. What does Mrs. Cruncher think of her husband’s “occupation”?

7. How does Mr. Cruncher view his “occupation”?

8. Why does young Jerry ask his father what a resurrection-man is?

9. What is comedic about this chapter?

10. Whose body could be inferred to have been dug up?

...

(The entire section is 221 words.)

Book the Second, Chapter 15 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Defarge bring the mender of roads to the wine-shop?

2. Who presents the petition to the King and what was the result?

3. What does it mean to be “registered?”

4. How is this register kept secret?

5. Where do the Defarges take the mender of roads?

6. How does the mender of roads act?

7. Why is Ernest Defarge happy with the way the mender of roads acts?

8. What does Madame Defarge say about dolls and birds?

9. To whom is she referring?

10. How does this scene end?

Answers
1. He brings the mender of roads to the wine-shop, so that the...

(The entire section is 244 words.)

Book the Second, Chapter 16 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why do the Defarges go to Paris?

2. What do they learn there?

3. What is distinctive about John Barsard?

4. Why does Madame Defarge put a rose in her hat?

5. What is Madame Defarge doing while she speaks with Barsard?

6. What does Barsard tell the Defarges about the Manettes?

7. How does Ernest Defarge react to this?

8. What would happen if Darnay and the Manettes were to come to France?

9. How does Madame Defarge feel about this?

10. What are Madame Defarge and the other women doing as the chapter ends?

Answers
1. They go to Paris to meet with...

(The entire section is 196 words.)

Book the Second, Chapters 17 and 18 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Of what do Lucie and her father assure each other on the night before her wedding?

2. What does Dr. Manette speak of for the first time?

3. What does Lucie pray for that night?

4. How does Dr. Manette react to hearing Darnay’s secret?

5. Who is present at the wedding?

6. What does Dr. Manette say to Darnay after the wedding?

7. What does this reveal about Lucie’s character?

8. What does Dr. Manette do after Lucie and Charles leave?

9. How does Lorry react to this? What does he try to do?

10. How long does this go on?

Answers
1. They assure each...

(The entire section is 222 words.)

Book the Second, Chapters 19 and 20 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What happens after Dr. Manette’s ninth day of making shoes?

2. How does Lorry approach Dr. Manette concerning his relapse?

3. What does Dr. Manette say about the cause of this relapse?

4. How does Lorry convince Manette to allow him to destroy the bench?

5. What is the symbolic nature of smashing the bench?

6. Who visits the couple upon their return from their honeymoon?

7. What do Carton and Darnay talk about?

8. What function does this serve?

9. What does Lucie ask her husband to do?

10. Why does she ask this of him?

Answers
1. He regains his...

(The entire section is 229 words.)

Book the Second, Chapter 21 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How many children does Lucie have? What are their fates?

2. What does the death of the second child signify?

3. What else happens as six years pass?

4. What news does Mr. Lorry bring that marks the beginning of the end of normalcy?

5. What happens in Paris?

6. What does Ernest Defarge do in the midst of the storming of the Bastille?

7. Why is this important?

8. What does Madame Defarge do to the governor’s dead body?

9. What does the final paragraph of this chapter have to say about Lucie?

10. To what event does the final paragraph refer?

Answers
...

(The entire section is 225 words.)

Book the Second, Chapters 22 and 23 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does Chapter 22 open?

2. What does Ernest Defarge tell the crowd at the wine-shop?

3. What is the result of this news?

4. How are the women who join Madame Defarge described?

5. What has Foulon said to the peasants before?

6. What is his fate?

7. Who joins him in this fate?

8. How could this relate to Charles Darnay?

9. How does Madame Defarge react towards Foulon?

10. What do the peasants do next?

Answers
1. Madame Defarge and The Vengeance are sitting in the wine-shop, knitting.

2. He tells them that Foulon has been captured.

...

(The entire section is 186 words.)

Book the Second, Chapter 24 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How many years have passed between chapters?

2. Why does Lorry decide to go to France?

3. Whom does he take with him?

4. What has happened to the French nobility?

5. What is Mr. Stryver’s opinion of the situation in France?

6. From whom does Charles Darnay receive a letter?

7. What decision does this letter lead Darnay to make?

8. Whom does he tell of his plans?

9. Why is this decision unbelievable?

10. What is the main function of this chapter?

Answers
1. Three years have passed.

2. He is going to help out at the chaotic Paris branch...

(The entire section is 190 words.)

Book the Third, Chapter 1 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What difficulties does Darnay meet at the beginning of his journey?

2. How does he finally reach Paris?

3. What decrees have been passed since Darnay has left England?

4. How is Darnay referred to by the officer in Paris?

5. Whom does Darnay meet in Paris?

6. What does Ernest Defarge say to Darnay?

7. What ominous phrase is connected with Darnay’s imprisonment?

8. What does Darnay learn of the King’s fate?

9. What does Darnay think of when in his cell?

10. What is this a reference to?

Answers
1. He is stopped innumerable times and forced to show...

(The entire section is 184 words.)

Book the Third, Chapters 2 and 3 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Where is Tellson’s Paris branch located?

2. What is on the grounds of this house?

3. Who comes to France in this chapter?

4. What does Defarge bring to Mr. Lorry?

5. Where does Lorry take the Defarges?

6. Why does Madame Defarge accompany them?

7. Is this the only reason?

8. What does Lucie ask of Madame Defarge?

9. What does Madame Defarge reply?

10. What is Mr. Lorry thinking as the chapter ends?

Answers
1. It is located in a house that the republic has seized from a nobleman.

2. There is a grindstone on the grounds of the house....

(The entire section is 186 words.)

Book the Third, Chapters 4 and 5 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does Dr. Manette keep secret from Lucie?

2. How does Dr. Manette gain influence with the new republic?

3. What is the slogan of this new republic?

4. What new device has led to more beheadings and how is this device described?

5. How does Lucie cope with her husband’s imprisonment?

6. What small consolation does Dr. Manette arrange for Lucie and Charles?

7. Where is the coincidental location of this spot?

8. What interest does the wood-sawyer take in Lucie?

9. Yet, who passes by this very spot soon after?

10. How does this chapter end?

Answers
...

(The entire section is 219 words.)

Book the Third Chapters 6 and 7 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How is the court that tries Darnay described?

2. How does Darnay defend himself?

3. From whom did he learn to appeal to the court in this way?

4. What is the result of the trial?

5. To what can this courtroom scene be compared?

6. How does Lucie react upon seeing Charles?

7. What does Lucie do next?

8. What happens when Charles and Lucie return to their apartment?

9. How has this happened?

10. What mystery does the chapter end on?

Answers
1. It is a horrid place that looks as if “the felons were trying the honest men.”

2. He reminds...

(The entire section is 189 words.)

Book the Third, Chapter 8 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Who does Miss Pross see in the wine-shop?

2. What does Jerry Cruncher ask Solomon Pros, and what is this a reference to?

3. Who provides Jerry with an answer to his question?

4. What does Carton want with Barsad?

5. What do they discuss there?

6. What does Jerry Cruncher reveal about Roger Cly?

7. How does Barsad explain this?

8. To whom does Carton refer to in his comment about crowds and what is the point of this?

9. What does Barsad tell Carton after Carton questions Barsad’s access to the prison?

10. How does this chapter end?

Answers
1. She...

(The entire section is 227 words.)

Book the Third, Chapter 9 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why is Mr. Lorry angry with Jerry Cruncher?

2. What deal has Sydney Carton worked out with Barsad?

3. What is Lorry’s reaction to this?

4. Where does Carton go after he leaves Lorry?

5. What does he do there?

6. What does Carton do for the rest of the night?

7. What goes through his head during this long night?

8. Where had he first heard these words?

9. Who is the mysterious third person who has denounced Charles Darnay?

10. How has this denunciation come about?

Answers
1. Lorry feels that Cruncher has imposed on Tellson’s Bank by being a...

(The entire section is 187 words.)

Book the Third, Chapter 10 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does this chapter consist of?

2. How do the two men who take Dr. Manette to the “patients” get him to enter the carriage?

3. Who are the two patients?

4. How has the boy received his wound?

5. What is this boy’s fate?

6. What becomes of his sister?

7. What important fact does Dr. Manette not learn?

8. To whom does Dr. Manette confide his secret?

9. How does Dr. Manette learn the name of the two evil brothers?

10. What is the result of the reading of this letter?

Answers
1. The bulk of this chapter is a reproduction of the letter Dr....

(The entire section is 214 words.)

Book the Third, Chapters 11 and 12 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does Lucie ask of the crowd at the trial?

2. Who helps Lucie when she faints?

3. What does Little Lucie say to Carton?

4. What happens to Dr. Manette in this chapter?

5. What does Carton learn about Madame Defarge while he is at the wine-shop?

6. What is ironic about this revelation?

7. What are Madame Defarge’s plans for Dr. Manette and Lucie?

8. What does Carton tell Lorry to do?

9. What does Carton give to Lorry?

10. What is the final condition that Carton gives Lorry?

Answers
1. She asks them to let her touch her husband for one last...

(The entire section is 207 words.)

Book the Third, Chapter 13 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How many prisoners are awaiting their deaths?

2. What does Darnay do once he resigns himself to dying?

3. Who is not in Darnay’s mind at all?

4. What does Sydney Carton tell Darnay?

5. How does Carton then proceed with his plan?

6. Whom does Carton call into the room to carry Darnay out?

7. Who does Carton meet as he awaits death?

8. What does this woman say to Carton?

9. What is Carton’s reply?

10. How does this chapter end?

Answers
1. Fifty-two prisoners are awaiting death.

2. He sits down and writes letters to Lucie, Dr. Manette,...

(The entire section is 184 words.)

Book the Third, Chapters 14 and 15 Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What does Madame Defarge decide at the beginning of the chapter?

2. Where does Madame Defarge then go?

3. What do we learn about Madame Defarge as she makes her way to Lucie’s apartment?

4. Whom does Madame Defarge meet at Lucie’s apartment?

5. What happens at the apartment?

6. What is the result of this struggle?

7. What does Jerry Cruncher do in this chapter?

8. What does Sydney Carton think of as he awaits the guillotine?

9. What are his thoughts regarding the future?

10. What are Sydney Carton’s final thoughts regarding his life?

Answers
1....

(The entire section is 229 words.)