A master of literary techniques, Charles Dickens uses them to great effect in his novel set in two cities, London and Paris. In his opening passage, which leads to the comparisons of the kings and queens of both England and France as well as the social conditions, there is beautiful
- Parallelism - the use of components in a sentence that lend a balance in sound and rhythm as well as grammatical structure. The first sentence is so often repeated, but there are many other examples in the first chapter, such as begins the second paragraph:
There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face, on the throne of France.
- Symbolism - That which exists on a literal level within a work but also represents something figurative. At the end of the first chapter, the Woodman, who represents the wood cut for the guillotine, and the Farmer, who represents the peasants and those whose tumbrils were used to cart the aristocrats to the guillotine, are symbolic of Fate and Death respectively. These symbols reappear throughout the narrative.
- Doppelgangers - doubles of characters; doubling is a literary technique that goes along with the parallelism. One example of very close doubling is with the characters of Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay, who not only look alike, but could have been similar if Carton were not so dissipated. Another pairing is with Mr. Lorry and Dr. Manette.
- Foils - These are characters who are in contrast to one another, a contrast that points to the shortcomings of one character and the sterling qualities of another. For instance, Mr. Lorry is a serious man of integrity whose entire life is spent working for Tellson's bank. Jerry Cruncher, on the contrary, is a loafer and engages in grave robbery, a crime.
- Irony - A contrast between what is perceived and what is real. Cruncher ironically calls himself "an honest tradesman," but in reality he engages in criminal activity.
- Comic relief - Jerry Cruncher is also a comic figure, as is his miniature, little Jerry, who is delighted to sit in for his father as the runner of errands for Mr. Lorry. Jerry is ridiculous as he harasses his wife for praying over him for his sins, and he calls her "Aggerawayter" [Aggravator]. Even his appearance is humorous:
[his hair] was so like smith's work, so much more like the top of a strongly spiked wall than a head of hair, that the best of players at leap-frog might have declined him, as the most dangerous man in the world to go over.
- Metaphor - "The Wine Shop," Chapter 5, is a metaphoric passage as the spilling of the wine and the general hysteria is comparable to the Revolution's spilling of blood and hysteria that follows. Further, in Chapter 5 there are more metaphors: "scarecrows" for the peasants; the "shoemaker" for Dr. Manette as a prisoner.
- Foreshadowing - Hints of the revolution to come is in Chapter 5, also.
The time was to come, when that wine too would be spilled on the street stones, and when the stain of it would be red upon many there.
- Metonymy -relation on the grounds of close associations. In Chapter 6 Dr. Manette is referred to by his prisoner number: "One Hundred and Five North Tower"
- Repetition - Used for effect to emphasize importance and the dominance of an idea.
...as the darkness closed in...The darkness deepened and deepened..." Ch.6
- Hyperbole - Obvious exaggeration is in the above description of Jerry "the most dangerous man" to jump over.