A Tale of Two Cities Study Guide
A Tale of Two Cities: Chapter Summaries
A Tale of Two Cities: Themes
A Tale of Two Cities: Characters
A Tale of Two Cities: Analysis
A Tale of Two Cities: Quotes
A Tale of Two Cities: Critical Essays
A Tale of Two Cities: Multiple-Choice Quizzes
A Tale of Two Cities: Questions & Answers
A Tale of Two Cities: Introduction
A Tale of Two Cities: Biography of Charles Dickens
Introduction to A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, published in 1859, is a historical novel that contrasts the social and political events taking place in Paris and London prior to and during the French Revolution in the mid-to-late eighteenth century. The novel centers around a cast of characters of both English and French backgrounds who grapple with shifting social tides as revolutionary sentiment pervades France.
Dickens draws unsettling parallels between the two cities, describing abject poverty, appalling starvation, rampant crime, ruthless capital punishment, and aristocratic greed. The novel, which Dickens published in installments in his magazine All the Year Round, retrospectively questions the degree to which the French revolutionaries of the late eighteenth century upheld Enlightenment-era ideals of rational thought, tolerance, constitutional government, and liberty.
A Brief Biography of Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens (1812–1870) was arguably the most prominent English novelist of the Victorian era, known as much for the epic sweep and realistic texture of his fiction as for his keen awareness of the social issues of his time. Raised in an impoverished family and forced to work in a factory from a young age, Dickens went on to work as a journalist as a young man and eventually began writing and selling fiction in the serialized format typical of the time. His first novel was The Pickwick Paperas, published in 1836, which quickly became an enormous success. Over the next three decades, Dickens produced a monumental body of work—including novels, plays, short stories, and nonfiction—with broad popular appeal and literary richness. By championing social causes in his works, creating vivid, unforgettable characters, and caring for his audience as much as he did for his pen, Dickens established himself as one of the greatest authors of nineteennth-century England. His best-known works include Oliver Twist (1838), A Christmas Carol (1843), and A Tale of Two Cities (1859).