What is the plot of a tale of two cities that includes the introduction,rising action,climax, falling action and denouement?

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here is a brief overview of A Tale of Two Cities plot.  This is a really long, complex novel, so this plot outline reflects only the most important, significant events:


  • Setting:  Best of times, worst of times.  The year is 1775 and tinged with the threat of revolution.
  • Dr. Mannette is rescued from the Bastille and brought back to London by Mr. Lorry.

Rising Action

  • Charles Darnay stands trial for treason, but is proven innocent by Sydney Carton.
  • Marquis de Evremonde runs over a peasant child with his carriage; the enraged peasants murder him.
  • Charles and Lucie marry.
  • 1789--The peasants storm the Bastille, and the French Revolution begins.
  • Gabelle (Darnay's uncle's old servant) writes a pleading letter to Darnay, hoping that he can help rescue him.  Charles goes to help at great personal risk.


  • Darnay is arrested.  The Defarges produce a damning letter at his trial.  He is to be executed.
  • Sydney Carton hears Madame Defarge plotting to have Lucie and her child executed also.
  • Sydney decides to switch places with Charles to help save Lucie's family.

Falling Action

  • Lucie, Charles, daughter, and Dr. Mannette escape from Paris.
  • Miss Pross and Madame Defarge fight in Lucie's apartment. Defarge is killed in the struggle.


  • Sydney Carton goes to the guillotine in place of Charles Darnay, satisfied that he has saved Lucie and her family.


Read the study guide:
A Tale of Two Cities

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