A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

By Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Key Facts

Composing date: 1859

Published date: From April 20, 1859, to November 26, 1859, as weekend serial

Genre:  Historical fiction or novel

Time setting: Before and during the French revolution from 1775-1793

Place setting: London and Paris

Point of view: Third person point of view

Protagonist: Both Charles Darnay and Sidney Carton, basically resemble the physical structure

Character analysis

Among the large amount of the characters of the novel, the major characters of the novel are as follows:

Dr. Manette

He is a hero to the French revolutionaries. He is released from prison in 1775 very devastatingly, recovers, and opens his home to those who have helped him.

Lucie Manette

She is the daughter of Dr. Manette, Lucie is loving and good-hearted toward all. She is the heroine of the novel.

Charles Darnay

He is the nephew of the Marquis St. Evrémonde or shortly the Marquis, but he gives up his claim to the title because of his family’s cruelty and marries Lucie Manette in England.

Sydney Carton

He is a lawyer. He is a very hard-working man. Though he drinks too much, he is good at heart and would do anything for Lucie Manette. Finally, he sacrifices his life for the happiness of Lucie.

Mr. Jarvis Lorry

He is one of the managers of Tellson’s Bank and is Lucie’s guardian, the Manettes’ financial adviser, and a friend of the family.

Monsieur Defarge

He is the wine shop owner in Paris. He is a former servant of Dr. Manette and one of the leaders of the revolutionaries.

Madame Defarge

Like her husband, she is a leader of the revolutionaries; she knits the register of people to be executed. But it is a matter of regret that finally, the Defarges betrays Dr. Manette.

Miss Pross

She is the governess of Lucie Manette and jealous of anyone who gets too close to Lucie but will do anything for her. She kills Madame Defarge unexpectedly in a fight in Paris.


He is a peasant whose child is killed by the Marquis, Gaspard murders the Marquis out of revenge and he is sentenced to death.

John Barsad

His original name is Solomon Pross but he adopts an alias name John Barsad to work as a British spy.

Roger Cly

He is an English spy who fakes his own death.

Mr. Stryver

He is the lawyer who defends Charles Darnay when he is up for treason in England.

Jerry Cruncher

He is a message-carrier for Tellson’s Bank and a grave robber.

Marquis St. Evrémonde or The Marquis

He is the uncle of Charles Darnay. He is a cruel and heartless French aristocrat and also a rapist and murderer.


He is Charles Darnay’s former servant. He is irrelevantly imprisoned for working for the aristocracy.

Little Lucie

She is Charles Darnay and Lucie Manette’s young daughter.


Theme stands for the central idea of any literary work. The novel “A Tale of Two Cities” has been designed by a group of central idea by which Dickens has mentioned the futility and meaninglessness of revolution. The themes of the novel have been discussed below in the following way.


In the novel Dickens has been shown the resurrection as major theme through some character such as Dr. Manette, Sydney Carton, Charles Darnay, Jerry Cruncher are the example of resurrection of character. Dr. Manette is resurrected physically and mentally. After the release from his imprisonment after eighteen years. Mr. Lorry’s message “Recalled to life “refers to the new start of life to swipe away from his past life. After a deep love and affection of Lucie Dr. Manette has restored his life as a physician. In the novel “A Tale of Two Cities” discussed a supreme resurrection by the character of Sydney Carton. His noble sacrifice of life for Lucie and humanity is really praiseworthy.

“I would embrace any sacrifice for you and those dear to you”

Sydney Carton is the embodiments of resurrection of humanity. He is one of one of the sacrificing characters in history of English literature. Sydney Carton has sacrificed his life to save Darnay’s life and gives a final warming to all the oppressors of humanity.

“Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms. Sow the same seed of rapacious license and oppression over again, and it will surely yield the same fruits according to its kind”.

Class struggle

Class struggle or class distinction is the pre-dominant theme of the novel. Here, the author has been represented beautifully the struggle between the aristocracy and the common people.  In “A Tale of Two Cities” two cities refer the two city Paris and London and describe the political and social upheaval of Paris and which is ongoing to the city London. If we minutely evaluate the motto of French Revolution to ensure Liberty, Equality and Fraternity it is proved that entire Paris has observed the fire of domination, inequality. In Monarchy there is no room of the common oppression and brutality had been turned into the daily phenomenon of the aristocracy to the common people during French Revolution. To ensure liberty, equality and fraternity French revolution had been occurred but Dickens has been shown that the futility of revolution in his novel. So, it can be said that class distinction is the prominent theme of the novel “A Tale of Two Cities”. 

“It was impossible for Monseigneur to dispense with one of these attendants on the chocolate and hold his high place under the admiring Heavens”.


Fate is another important theme of the novel “A Tale of Two Cities”.  Fate is absolutely is a divine object but in the novel Dickens has used the theme to understand the certainty of human beings. The theme of fate is reflected in the novel through the character of Charles Darnay and Dr. Manette.  For the supremacy of their divine fate they are recalled to life.  


Family is played a vital role in the life of every human being. In the novel the author has mention the function of family and by getting family Dr. Manette has recovered his life. So the theme of family had been pervaded in the novel.

Reversals and Inversion

There is a proverb that “Money makes money” By the theme of reversals and inversion the same thing has been reflected. The aristocracy has sown the seed of oppression and brutality in 1789 during French revolution they taken the test of same fruits. In the section we can say that evil returns evil.


A Tale of Two Cities was set in both London and Paris in the late 18th century, but earlier events have contributed to the plot. In 1757, Dr. Alexandre Manette has been imprisoned in Bastille for refusing to remain silent about the crimes committed by Marquis St. Evremonde and his brother. At the beginning of the novel, Dr. Manette is released and is in a garret or attic room in Paris.

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 young Lucie Manette. On the way, a messenger from Tellson’s Bank named Jerry Cruncher stops the coach or bus to hand over Jarvis Lorry a small folded piece of paper. The note reads, “Wait at Dover for Mam’selle.” Lorry tells Jerry to get back the message “Recalled to Life.” Jerry is completely confused but agrees to take the message back to the bank.

Jarvis Lorry arrives in Dover to meet Lucie. Lorry tells her that her father, whom she believes to be dead, is actually alive, and he has been released from prison and that he is in the house of a former servant. Lucy is shocked.

When Lorry and Lucie arrive in the wine shop of Monsieur and Madame Defarge at the Paris, they are taken to Dr. Manette, who is now busy making shoes on the fifth floor of their house. When Lucie sees him, she is scared at first but soon she embraces him. She and Lorry take Dr. Manette out of Paris.

Five years later in London, in 1780, a sedition case is being tried against Charles Darnay. The two spies named John Barsad and Roger Cly testify against Darnay. Lucie and Dr. Manette also unwillingly testify against Darnay. Darnay’s lawyer, Mr. Stryver points out that his associate Sydney Carton looks exactly like Charles Darnay, and Darnay is acquitted.

The Marquis drives his carriage very fast, and eventually, he has killed the child of the farmer named Gaspard. The Marquis flips the farmer a coin as compensation and goes away. The farmer could not tolerate the death of his son that is why he takes revenge killing the Marquis though he is sentenced to death for this.

In London, Lucie is loved by two men Darnay and Sydney Carton. They love Lucie equally but Lucie likes Darnay because of his responsible attitude and a year later of the closing of the sedition case against him, Darney tells Dr. Manet that he wants to marry Lucy. Meanwhile,  Sydney Carton tells Lucie that He will do anything for her and for the people whom she loves.

Lucie marries Darnay. After a private meeting with Darnay, the doctor reverts to his old shoemaking habit after knowing the true identity of his son-in-law because knowing this he has been mentally unstable, but 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. In 1789, the Paris revolutionaries attack the Bastille, led by the Defarges. Later that month, revolutionaries burn down the Marquis’s mansion. In 1792, Darnay learns that his uncle’s former servant named Gabelle has been imprisoned and Darnay sets out to France to save him.

When Charles Darnay arrives in France, he is imprisoned as an emigrant and an aristocrat. Lucie, Miss Pross, and Dr. Manette go to Paris, find Mr. Lorry at Tellson’s Bank, and tell him that Darnay is in prison. 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. However, on that very evening, Darnay is arrested again because of the letter of Dr. Manette.

Miss Pross sees her long-lost brother, Solomon Pross, who has adopted a disguised name, John Barsad. Carton also recognizes him as Barsad who is one of the British spies who tried to frame 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 Carton blackmails Barsad to get him into the prison to see Darnay.

The following day, Darnay’s retrial is resumed on new allegations by the Defarges, because Madame Defarge had found a letter when she was searching Dr. Manette’s prison cell. Defarge reads the letter to the tribunal. In it, Dr. Manette had marked that his imprisonment was at the hands of the Evrémonde brothers, Darnay’s father, and uncle after he had tried to report their crimes. The fact of the crime is that Darnay’s uncle had kidnapped and raped a peasant girl whose brother first hid his remaining younger sister and then went to confront the Marquis, who killed him with his sword and ran over his carriage over him. In spite of the best efforts of Dr. Manette, both the sister and brother had died. In the letter, Dr. Manette’s 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 irrefutable proof of Darnay’s guilt, and he is condemned to die by the guillotine the next afternoon.

In the Defarges’ wine shop, Carton discovers that Madame Defarge is the surviving sister of the peasant family, and he overhears her planning that she will kill Lucie and her daughter. Carton Meets Lorry and tells him 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 pm so that they can leave instantly after his coming back.

Madame Defarge tries to find out Lucie and her daughter. She finds Miss Pross and struggles with her and pulls out a gun to threaten Miss Pross but the gun goes off in the struggle and Madame Defarge is unfortunately killed. Sydney Carton is sentenced to death in guillotine in Darnay’s place.

The Keywords of the story

  1. Background
  2. Jarvis Lorry’s search for Lucie Manette
  3. Dr. Manettes coming to London
  4. A sedition case in London
  5. Death of a farmer’s son
  6. In love, Darnay vs Carton
  7. Dr. Manette’s madness
  8. 8 years happy conjugal life
  9. Darnay’s imprisonment in Paris
  10. Darnay’s trial in Paris
  11. Madame Defarge planning to kill Lucie and her daughter

Click Here: For the notes of the novel

SR Sarker
SR Sarker
Articles: 380

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