A tale of two cities book 1 summary

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a tale of two cities book 1 summary

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

My 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 one of the most popular writers in England and America during his time. I want them to see the book as the suspenseful, comedic, and sentimental piece of entertainment that it is. Because, while A Tale of Two Cities is masterfully written with sly humor, densely meaningful descriptions, a cast of quirky characters only Dickens could create, an endless series of telling binaries and foils, and relevant social commentary about the French Revolution as well as Dickens time, it is also simply a damn good story. By a damn good storyteller.

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.

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A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.
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A Tale of Two Cities (Brief Summary)

A Tale of Two Cities Summary and Analysis of Book I, Chapters 1-4

Which guides should we add? Request one! Sign In Sign Up. Plot Summary. All Characters Charles Darnay a. Cruncher Young Jerry.

The year is , and life in England and France seems paradoxically the best and the worst that it can be. The rulers and ruling classes of both countries may have the best of life, but they are out of touch with the common people and believe that the status quo will continue forever. In France, inflation is out of control and an oppressive social system results in intolerable and extreme injustices being committed against average citizens, who believe they have the worst of life. The breaking point — riotous rebellion — is near, and the populace of France secretly but steadily moves toward revolution. Meanwhile, in England, people give spiritualists and the supernatural more attention than the revolutionary rumblings from American colonists, and an ineffective justice system leads to widespread violence and crime.

See Important Quotations Explained. As its title promises, this brief chapter establishes the era in which the novel takes place: England and France in France, on the other hand, witnesses excessive spending and extreme violence, a trend that anticipates the erection of the guillotine. On a Friday night in late November of , a mail coach wends its way from London to Dover. The journey proves so treacherous that the three passengers must dismount from the carriage and hike alongside it as it climbs a steep hill. The travelers react warily, fearing that they have come upon a highwayman or robber. A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.

The year is and the settings are London and Paris, two lands ruled by monarchs. England is on the brink of the American Revolution. The French Revolution seems inevitable, with trees waiting to be converted to guillotines and the spirit of rebellion silently infecting the countryside.
can t remember to forget you meaning

Charles Dickens

All rights reserved. Okay, we know that this is a summary and all, but we just have to quote this opening for you. Here goes: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness […]. As our narrator points out, these opposites are also rather…similar. Your friendly Shmoop team is here to help. This chapter, the greatest of all openings, is a sort of guidebook to the time. What we do get, however, is a breakdown of the important places in the novel: France and England.

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5 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

  1. The story is set in the late 18th century against the background of the French Revolution.

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