Tale of Two Cities a historical novel? Give reasons for your answer

Shape Shape

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.


Evaluate Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities as a historical novel. Or Would you call Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities a historical novel? Give reasons for your answer. 

historical novel is a novel that is designed to take historical allusion. “A Tale of Two Cities” (1859) is an immense creation of the famous Victorian novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870). A historical novel possesses some traits by which we can trace this novel, whether it is a historical novel or not.

Historical Background: For the background of Dickens’s novel, he has chosen historical subject matter. In his novel “A Tale of Two Cities,” he derives the theme from the French Revolution. Charles Dickens uses historical background in his own way. Dickens says:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness….”

Historical Setting: The setting of the novel also revolves around historical importance. The novel starts with the early revolutionary period in 1775 and shows the causes of the French Revolution. So, the first trait is traced in the novel “A Tale of Two Cities.” 

The Historical Theme of the French Revolution: The novel’s central theme has been discussed in the novel French Revolution. If we evaluate the history of France, we can get a clear conception of the French Revolution. The history of the French Revolution has been extracted from the history of France. From this narrating point of view, it is proved that “A Tale of Two Cities” is a historical novel.

 Fall of Bastille: In the novel, we get several evidences of the fall of Bastille. It was a historic phenomenon during the French Revolution of 1789 that lasted till 1799. In the novel, we see that people with low incomes are oppressed brutally by the aristocrats. If anyone raised their voice against the Monarchy of France, he or she was imprisoned in the Bastille. Thus, the revolutionaries attacked the Bastille and, on 14 July 1789, released those who had been imprisoned in Bastille. The storming was led by Mr Defarge and his wife, Madame Defarge. They killed the governor of the Bastille and beheaded seven guards.

“Remained immovable close to him through the streets, as Defarge and the rest bore him along; remained immovable close to him when she was got near his destination, and began to be struck at from behind; remained immovable close to him when the long gathering rain of stabs and blows feel heavy.”


The Conception of the Guillotine: The guillotine is a historical instrument used for beheading people condemned to death. The machine is named after Joseph Guillotine, who was a physician. The revolutionaries have been sentenced to death by the French aristocracy by this machine. Another important aspect of this novel is the dance of the revolutionaries named after Carmagnole. Charles Darnay was arrested by the revolutionaries in 1780 When he became the victim of the brutality of the revolution. Sydney saves him, the supreme sacrificing character in the history of English literature. So, it can be said that “A Tale of Two Cities” bears the testimony of a historical novel.


No fight could have been half so terrible as this dance. It was so emphatically a fallen sport- a something, once innocent, delivered over to all devilrya healthy pastime changes into a means of angering the blood.


The Use of Myth from the Historical Perspective: In the novel “A Tale of Two Cities,” Dickens uses sundry mythical characters from the historical point of view, such as Gorgon’s Head and The Landstone. According to the classical myth, the gorgons are the three sisters with snakes for hair, turning anyone looking at them to stone. They are the symbol of cruelty, fate, and death. In the novel “A Tale of Two Cities,” Dickens uses this myth to describe the top of the Evremondes. Another mythical term is Sandstone. It refers to the rock that magnetically pulls the ships so that they would crash. The novelist used this term in the case of Darnay’s imprisonment. 

In stop, “A Tale of Two Cities” is a gifted novel that skillfully combines historical context with invention. Dickens vividly portrays the French Revolution and portrays a realistic picture at Paris and London of that contemporary time. He has used the historical background to teach readers that people should learn from history. So, A Tale of Two Cities is packed with historical elements and is undoubtedly a historical novel.