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A Tale of Two Cities

by Charles Dickens
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A brief summary of the story A Tale of Two Cities ?

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Lucie Manette, a Frenchwoman living in England, receives word that her father is still alive. Her father, Dr. Manette, was falsely imprisoned in the notorious Bastille prison in Paris after uncovering wicked behavior by members of an aristocratic family. A member of that family, Charles Darnay, flees France when the...

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Lucie Manette, a Frenchwoman living in England, receives word that her father is still alive. Her father, Dr. Manette, was falsely imprisoned in the notorious Bastille prison in Paris after uncovering wicked behavior by members of an aristocratic family. A member of that family, Charles Darnay, flees France when the Revolution breaks out. He travels to England, where he's falsely accused of being a French spy. Fortunately, he's acquitted thanks to the efforts of his lawyer Sydney Carton.

Lucie falls in love with Darnay and they head off to France together. The brave Darnay wants to save his servant Gabelle, who's been imprisoned by the revolutionary authorities on a trumped-up charge of treason. However, Revolutionary France is no place for an aristocrat, even a nice one like Darnay, so it's no surprise when he ends up being slung in jail. Dr. Manette uses his status as an ex-prisoner of the hated Bastille to intercede on Darnay's behalf. He's successful, but Darnay is re-arrested on the same day and thrown back in prison. The authorities have decided that he's a traitor and must go to the guillotine.

Sydney Carton, who saved Darnay's life during his treason trial in England, saves him again. He bears a strong physical resemblance to Darnay—which is what confused the witnesses at his treason trial, thus saving him from being convicted—and uses it once more to help out his friend. He changes places with Darnay, and goes to the guillotine in a heroic act of self-sacrifice.

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