Summary of A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

By Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Summary of A Tale of Two Cities

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

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SR Sarker
SR Sarker
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