A Tale of Two Cities : summary

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A Tale of Two Cities is a notable literary work by Charles Dickens. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of A Tale of Two Cities.


A Tale of Two Cities was set in London and Paris in the late 18th century, but earlier events contributed to the plot. In 1757, Dr. Alexandre Manette was imprisoned in the Bastille for refusing to remain silent about the crimes Marquis St. Evremonde and his brother committed. At the novel’s outset, Dr. Manette is released in Madame Defarge’s house in Paris.

A Tale of Two Cities Summary

Conversation between Jarvis Lorry and Jerry Cruncher:  Now, the main story begins; in 1775, an employee of the Tellson’s Bank, Jarvis Lorry, is on his way from London to Dover to meet Lucie Manette, daughter of Dr. Manette. On the way, a messenger from Tellson’s Bank named Jerry Cruncher stops Jarvis Lorry to inform him. The note reads, “Wait at Dover for Mam’selle.” Lorry tells Jerry to get back the message “Recalled to Life.” Jerry is confused but agrees to return the message to the bank.

Jarvis Lorry meeting with Lucie: Jarvis Lorry arrives in Dover to meet Lucie. Lorry tells her that her father, whom she believes to be dead, is alive, and he has been released from prison and is in the house of a former servant. Lucy is shocked to hear this and is desperate to meet with her father. Jarvis Lorry informs her that he will go to Paris to meet Dr. Manette with her. Then they go to the parish and arrive at the wine shop of Monsieur and Madame Defarge at the Paris. They see that Dr. Manette is making shoes on the fifth floor of the house. Seeing the pathetic scene, Lucie and Lorry are shocked. Once, Dr. Manette was a well-known physician but is now making shows. Seeing everything about her father, Lucie becomes emotional and soon embraces him. However, it is sorrowful that Dr. Manette does not identify his daughter Lucie and Jarvis Lorry because he lost his previous memory. But through Lucie’s deep and selfless love, Doctor Manette returns to his previous memory very soon and can recognize his daughter, seeing her long golden hair and blue eyes. Because Lucie’s mother’s head was long golden hair and she possessed blue eyes. Finally, Lucie, Jarvis Lorry, and Dr. Manette come to London from Paris.

Appearance of Darney: Five years later, the novel’s scene came to London in 1780. A sedition case is being tried against Charles Darnay, the novel’s hero. He is accused of smuggling important information from London to Paris. The two spies, John Barsad and Roger Cly, witness against Darnay. Lucie and Dr. Manette also unwillingly testify against Darnay. Darnay’s defense lawyer, Mr. Stryver, points out that his associate Sydney Carton looks exactly like Charles Darnay. After a long trial, Charles Darnay is freed from the sedition case. 

Death scene of Gaspard’s child: The Marquis, uncle of Charles Darnay, drives his carriage very fast, and eventually, he kills the child of the farmer named Gaspard. The Marquis throws to the farmer Gaspard a coin as compensation for his son’s death and goes away. This scene is very pathetic for the Gaspard. He cannot tolerate the death of his son, which is why he takes revenge by killing the Marquis. Finally, he is sentenced to death for taking revenge on Marquis.

Love Story: In London, Two people, Darnay and Sydney Carton, love Lucie. They love Lucie equally, but Lucie likes Darnay because of his responsible attitude. They meet Lucie in the court when the trial of the sedition case against Darnay is continued. Lucie loves Darnay, and a year later, after closing the sedition case against him. Darnay tells Dr. Manette that he wants to marry Lucie. Meanwhile, Sydney Carton tells Lucie that He loves her from the heart. Her love helps him to transform himself. He promises Lucie to do anything for her and the people she loves.

The conjugal life of Lucie and Darney: Lucie marries Darnay. But it is a matter of sorrow that After a private meeting with Darnay, the doctor reverts to his old shoemaking habit after knowing the true identity of his son-in-law. Knowing his true identity, Dr. Manett’s unbearable memory of the Bastille comes to mind, and he becomes unstable mentally. He recovers ten days later. Miss Pross and Lorry destroy his shoemaking tools. Over the next few years, Lucie and Darnay lead a very happy conjugal life and have a daughter, little Lucie, and a son, who dies young.

Attack on Bastille: 1789, the Paris revolutionaries attacked the Bastille, led by the Defarges. Later that month, revolutionaries burn down the Marquis’s mansion. They attack Gabelle, the tax collector and the former servant of the Dearney family. In the novel, Gabelle symbolizes the oppressive government, so revolutionaries arrest him. During his imprisonment three years later, in 1792, Gabelle writes a letter to Charles Darnay to save him from prison. Getting the letter, Darnay sets out to France to save him. When Charles Darnay arrives in France, he is imprisoned as an emigrant and a member of an aristocratic family. Lucie, Miss Pross, and Dr. Manette go to Paris. Dr. Manette goes to the revolutionaries and tries to get Darnay out, but he is unsuccessful. However, after fifteen months of his arrest, Darnay is released. But, on that very evening, Darnay is arrested again because of the letter from Dr. Manette.

Clash between Carton and John Barsad: Miss Pross sees her long-lost brother, Solomon Pross, who has adopted a disguised name, John Barsad. Carton also recognizes him as Barsad, one of the British spies who tried to communicate Darnay at his trial in 1780. Solomon is desperate to keep his true identity hidden, and by threatening to denounce him as an English spy, Carton blackmails Barsad to get him into the prison to see Darnay.

Trial scene against Darney: The following day, Darnay’s retrial is resumed on new allegations by the Defarges because Madame Defarge had found a letter while searching Dr. Manette’s prison cell. Defarge reads the letter to the tribunal. Dr. Manette wrote the letter at the time of his imprisonment. In the latter, Dr. Manette had marked that his imprisonment was at the hands of the Evrémonde brothers, Darnay’s father and uncle. Because he wanted to report on their crimes. The fact of the crime is that Darnay’s uncle had kidnapped and raped a farmer girl. When the girl’s brother tries to save his only younger sister, he confronts the Marquis, who killed him. Then, the Marquis ordered his familial doctor, Dr. Manette, to treat her. But Despite Dr. Manette’s best efforts, the girl died. In the letter, Dr Manette has not only accused the Evrémondes but the last of their clan. Dr Manette tries to convince the jury that it was years ago, but now Darnay is his soul. That is why he requests the jury acquit Darnay. But the jury accepts this letter as undeniable proof of Darnay’s guilt. Due to his forefather’s misdeed, Darney is sentenced to death by the guillotine in the next 24 hours.

Madam Deferge’s Knitting: Carton discovers that in the Defarges’ wine shop, Madame Defarge is the surviving sister of the peasant family. He overhears that Madame Defarge planned to kill Lucie and her daughter, little Lucie. Then Carton Meets Jarvis Lorry and informs all. Besides, he shared his plan that Lucie and her family must be ready to flee the next day. He takes a promise from Lorry that Lorry and Manette’s family will be waiting for him in the carriage at 2 p.m. so that they can leave instantly after his coming back.

The fight between Madame Defarge and Miss Pross: Madame Defarge comes to Lucie’s mention and tries to find out about Lucie and her daughter. She finds no one to except Miss Pross, a loyal maidservant of Lucie. She asks Miss Pross about Lucie’s destination but refuses to disclose it. Then, Madame Defarge starts to force Miss Prose again and again to describe Lucie’s location. There is a fight between them at a time, and Defarge pulls out a gun to threaten Miss Pross. But the gun hidden in the Defarge chest explodes during the fight, and Madame Defarge dies, unfortunately. Meanwhile, Sydney Carton is sentenced to death by guillotine in Darnay’s place.