A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities book cover
Start Your Free Trial

How does A Tale of Two Cities measure up? How does A Tale of Two Cities compare to Dickens's other works?  Is it one of his better works, or does it not measure up to works like Bleak House?

Expert Answers info

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write4,539 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

It's a tough read, for sure, and there are some rather unbelievable characters (no one is as perfect as Lucie or as noble as Charles) ; however, A Tale of Two Cities is a powerful picture of human nature, redemption, and historical/political perspectives. It spans time and place to offer a picture of the very best and worst man is capable of. For me, it is by far the most relevant novel Dickens wrote.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

catd1115 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write243 answers

starTop subjects are History, Social Sciences, and Literature

I really enjoyed A Tale of Two Cities, and it was one of my first exposures to Dickens. It may not measure up in some ways in terms of complications and the text beneath the text, but I think it can be a great introduction to Dickens for students. It is interesting, and has the kind of plot where simply, you want to know how it turns out!

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write15,968 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

I have found that with my students, getting past the first book is the hard part.  I tell my students to think of the first book as an introduction.  While a few important things happen there, it mostly serves to introduce the characters and setting and get the plot rolling.  It's exposition.  It's kind of like a prologue.  Most students will look at chapter 1 and say they have no idea what it says.  I break it down with them, and any person could really do the same thing by reading a summary.

Once you get into the actual story, this book is funny and interesting.  It moves along quite nicely.  I admit, it is my favorite Dickens book and also just my favorite book.  That is a subjective assessment, of course!  My adice to those who are confused is to be patient with the first book.  Once you get to book 2, it's magical.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

ask996 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write2,181 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Science

I too struggled with this novel the first time I read it. However, as mwestwood pointed out, it does bear reading again--and again. While there are some weak areas, for the whole it is a book that bears up (as mentioned earlier) to multiple readings, and there is also something to be said that it is still used in English classrooms today. I would say that this proves it does indeed measure up.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,149 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Critics have long pointed to many weak points in A Tale of Two Cities, among them the lack of character development of nearly every character.  The technique of character doubles has also met with negative criticism.  Lucie as the typical contrived Victorian heroine is a flaw that is always mentioned.  (My students have often wondered why either Darnay or Carton love her!)

Yet, there is something so wonderful and poignant about the narrative that readers forgive Dickens all his flaws.  Perhaps it is the sublime idea that a man actually fulfills the words of Jesus that there is no greater love that a man have than that he lay down his life for another.  What reader can get through this novel without a tear!

One year that students were assigned this...

(The entire section contains 7 answers and 990 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write13,728 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

amy-lepore eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2005

write3,513 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial


q30r9m3 | Student

Very confusing...

check Approved by eNotes Editorial