A Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensMy primary goal when Im teaching A Tale of Two Cities to my sophomores is to make them realize that Charles Dickens didnt write creaky, dusty long novels that teachers embraced as a twisted rite of passage for teenagers. Instead, I want them them to understand why Dickens was
I have a difficult time writing reviews about books that I adore because, when Im not reading them, I hug them too closely to be very critical. (BTW - I frequently hug A Tale of Two Cities in front of my students... and write Charles Dickens name with hearts around it... They think Im crazy, but it intrigues some of them just enough to make them doubt the derisive comments of upperclassmen.) I reluctantly admit that Dickens does oversimplify the causes of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror; however, in doing so, he successfully captures the spirit of a tumultuous period and helps readers sympathize with characters on every side of the developing conflict. I also think that the characters of Roger Cly and John Barsad get a bit messy and may have worked better as a single character. Perhaps the confusion is a result of serialization restructuring. But, really, I read A Tale of Two Cities like a costumed Lord of the Rings fan at a movie premier. I cheer when my favorite characters enter scenes and I knowingly laugh when Dickens cleverly foreshadows future events.
Though I dont think that A Tale of Two Cities is Dickens best novel--that title I would reserve for either Bleak House or David Copperfield--I do agree with Dickens, who claims that it was his best story. It is artfully written. Dickens introduces a cast of characters, sprawled across two nations and spanning varied social classes and political affiliations, and then effortlessly weaves their stories and secrets together in a masterful way. The Modernist movement painstakingly forced literature to reflect the ambiguities and uncertainties of the real world and thats great, but sometimes it is a real joy to read a story that ends with such magnificent closure. All mysteries are solved and everything makes sense. It is beautiful.
(I have to admit that I was overjoyed when a group of my fifth period girls persistently voiced their disdain for Dickens angel in the house Lucie and backed Madame Defarge. I think they may have created a Madame Defarge myspace, actually. Oh how the times have changed.)
Ms. R--, you got me. What? At the beginning of this book, you said you would get some of us. And that we would love it. You got me. I didnt get you G--. Charles Dickens did. I just introduced you.
A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.
A Tale of Two Cities Summary
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It is , and Mr. Jarvis Lorry is traveling to Dover to meet Lucie Manette. He tells her that she is not an orphan as she had been told from a young age. He now says that he will travel with her to Paris to meet her father, who has recently been released from the Bastille. Doctor Manette is housed in the Defarges' wine-shop and has lost his reason, but he starts to regain it when he meets his daughter and is transported back to London. Five years later, Charles Darnay is tried in London on a charge of treason for providing English secrets to the French and Americans during the outbreak of the American Revolution. The dramatic appearance of Mr.