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(Bnititti to (Rn%li&h ^iKMita ^btvits 


(Charles Dickens) 





Instructors of English, Washington Irving High School 
New York City 



Flatiron Building 




Genuine aids to the study of English classics in secondary 
schools and. in colleges. Include outlines, summaries, explana- 
tory notes, biography, bibliography and recent examination 
questions. Compiled by New York City high school teachers 
of undisputed fitness and ability. 

Speech on CoNaLiATiON— Burke 
As You Like It— Shakespeare 

Tale of Two Cities — Dickens 

Julius Caesar 


Essay on Burns— Carlyle 
Life of Johnson— Macaulay 

Silas Marner — Euot 

Idylls of the King — ^Tennyson 

Merchant of Venice— Shakespeare 
Browning's Poems (Selected) 


Mabel F. Brooks, B.A., M.A. 
Theodore Roosevelt High School 

Alfred A. May, M.A. 
High School oj Commerce 

Edith C. Younghem, B.A. 
Helen H. Crandell, B.A. 
Washington Irving High School 

Heuen M. Roth, B.A. 

Girls' Commercial High School 
B. J. R. Stolper, B.Sc. 

Stuyvcsant High School 

Thomas L. Doyle, M.A. 
Boys* High School 

Edith C. Younghem, B.A. 
Helen H. Crandell, B.A. 
Washington Irving High School 

Mabel E. Wilmot, B.A. 
Bryant High School 

R. L. NooNAN, B.S. 
Commercial High School 

A. M. Works, B.A.,M.A. 
De Witt Clinton High School 





(Bniticti to (Eng:lt0l) Cla60tc0 :^ene0 


(Charles Dickens) 





Instructors of English, Washington Irving High School 
New York City 


Flatiron Building 




Copyright, 1921 

FEB 26 I9?l 



A Tale of Tivo Cities is a novel. Novel is the general 
name given to longer prose narratives of fictitious events. 
Novels are usually classified as realistic or romantic. The 
realistic novel ''takes for its own what is likely, what is 
usual, what is ordinary" ; the romantic novel deals with 
"the unlikely, the unusual and the extraordinary." The 
tale that we are studying is plainly a romantic novel, 
because it relates incidents that are unlikely. Further- 
more, in the realistic novel the chief interest lies in the 
development of character, whereas in the romantic novel 
the chief interest lies in the story itself. Dickens has 
made the story and not the characters the important 
interest in A Tale of Two Cities, and his emphasis on the 
story makes his novel a romantic novel. 

Sometimes romantic novels deal with modern material. 
Sometimes historical circumstances are introduced into 
the setting and affect the plot. A Talc of Tzvo Cities, 
therefore, is also an historical novel, because it seeks to 
aid in the understanding of its period : the years leading 
up to and during the Reign of Terror of the French 


Important as are the great Victorian poets (Alfred 
Tennyson, Robert Browning, Matthew Arnold) it is 
probable that the greatest achievement of the Victorian 



age (1837-1901) was in the realm of prose fiction, that 
is, the novel. Unquestionably the leading novelists are 
Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, and 
George Eliot, all of whom employed the novel as the 
most successful method of presenting their views of the 
scientific, critical and sociological ideas of the time. 

Dickens's chief concern was with people, and almost 
entirely with people of the poorer classes who had been 
overlooked in an earlier and less humanitarian literature. 
His interest in people led to his career as a reformer, 
for his novels give a picture of evils which needed cor- 
rection. Thus we see the need for reform of the debtors' 
prison sponsored in Little Dorrit; of certain private 
schools, in David Copperfield and Nicholas Nickleby; 
of the law courts, in Bleak House;- of work-houses in 
Oliver Twist; of slums in book after book. It is natural 
that a man so intensely sympathetic with the poor and 
the down-trodden should be capable of presenting a color- 
ful picture of the miseries which caused the French Revo- 

The first part of ^ Tale of Tzvo Cities appeared in 
the first number (dated April 30, 1859) of "All the Year 
Round," a periodical of which Dickens was the editor. 
Its success was immediate. The story was likewise pub- 
lished after the fashion of the time in eight monthly parts 
beginning in June, 1859. O^"^ i^^ completion it was pub- 
lished as an independent volume by Chapman & Hall, 
and it was inscribed to Lord John Russell, "in remem- 
brance of many public services and private kindnesses." 

A Tale of Two Cities differs from Dickens's other 
works in that it is a novel of action rather than of char- 


acter. In his own words, Dickens set himself the task 
"of making a pictures([iie story, rising in every chapter, 
with characters true to nature, but whom the story should 
express more than they should express themselves by 


In any work of hction, we find three elements: the 
characters, the plot, and the setting or background. That 
is, we see certain ])ersons (the characters) doing certain 
things (the plot) under certain circumstances (the 

The relative importance of these component parts dif- 
fers in various novels. In a romantic novel such as A 
Tale of Two Cities, the plot and the setting are, as has 
been explained, of highest importance. 


Book I 

In the year 1775, Lucie Manette, who believes herself 
an orphan (chap. 4), is surprised to learn that she must 
go to Paris to meet her father who has been imprisoned 
almost eighteen years (chap. 3) in the state prisun, I'he 
Bastille. She finds him in a miserable garret above Ernest 
Defarge's wine-shop in St. Aritoine, a wretched quarter 
of Paris — later known as the hot-bed of lire French Rexo- 
lution (chap. 5). Solitary and unjust confinement has 
almost wrecked the reason of one who had been a bril- 


liant young doctor, but who now knows himself only 
in his prison character of ''105 North Tower," a maker 
of shoes. On the way back to England where Lucie's 
care is to restore her father to life and love, she enlists 
the sympathies of Charles Darnay, a young Frenchman 
now resident in England. 

Book II 

Five years later Lucie and her father are called as wit- 
nesses against young Darnay, who has been indicted for 
treason (chap. 2). Darnay is acquitted by the cleverness 
of Sydney Carton, his lawyer's assistant, who draws at- 
tention to the remarkable resemblance between the ac- 
cused and himself, thus rendering useless the circumstan- 
tial evidence of the paid witnesses for the prosecution 
(chaps. 3 and 4). It is at this trial that both men fall 
in love with Lucie: Charles Darnay, the handsome, up- 
right young teacher of French, who soon becomes Lucie's 
husband (chap. 18), and Carton, his double, whose abili- 
ties have been wasted in a life marred by laziness, lack 
of ambition, and drunkenness (chap. 5), and whose con- 
sciousness of his degradation makes him unwilling to 
express his love to Lucie except in the words, "There 
is a man who would give his life to keep a life you love 
beside you" (chap. 13). 

Meanwhile in France, the peasants who have suffered 
for generations at the hands of the cruel and luxury- 
loving aristocrats are preparing a revolution (chaps. 7, 
8, 9, 15, 16, 23). Joined with them are the downtrodden 
inhabitants of the slums of Paris, who live out their 

.1 TM.E or TWO CITIES 7 

miserable lives a stone's throw from the resort of extrava- 
i;ance and fashion. The influence of the Revolution is 
destined to extend to England where il will seriously affect 
the lives of Lucie and her husband, of Sydney Carton, 
and of Dr. ]\lanette. 

On the fourteenth of July, 17S9, a day fated to be 
famous in French history, the Bastille is besieged (chap. 
21) and destroyed by the Paris mob, maddened to fury 
and desperation by years of oppression^ (chap. 22). 
Soon afterw^ard, Foulon, the stony-hearted minister of 
finance, is put to death by the ring-leaders of St. Antoine. 
There follows a wave of destruction and death which 
creates havoc irreparable among all those members of 
the nobility who are not fortunate enough to escape, with 
or without their property, to England. - 

Three years later, a letter addressed to "Monsieur, 
heretofore the Marquis St. Evremonde of France," falls 
into the hands of Charles Darnay (chap. 24). The secret 
which has been confided to no one but to his father-in- 
law, Dr. Manette, is out : Charles Darnay is the Marquis 
St. Evremonde, who abandoned his estates in France be- 
cause he had no sympathy with the inhuman practices 
of his uncle, the former Marquis (chap. 9), whose life 
and property have finally been forfeited to the righteous 
anger of his downtrodden tenants (chaps. 9, 23 j. The 
letter is written by the superintendent of the estate w^ho 
has been thrust into prison and who craves, the assist- 
ance of Evremonde for his release. 

' See note : Bastille. 
• See note : Emigres. 


Book III 

France in the hands of the Revolutionists has pro- 
claimed death to the Aristocrats (chap, i), and more 
particularly to the emigres, whose apparent escape has 
maddened their enemies the more. And so it is that 
Darnay upon his arrival in France is thrust into the 
prison of La Force, nor can his errand of mercy, his 
previous surrender of his estates, his horror of all the 
evils which the Revolution is destined to correct, save him. 

Darnay 's wife, Lucie, and her father hasten to France 
upon hearing of this calamity. The prisoner's release is 
effected after fifteen months by Dr. Manette (chap. 6) 
who, as a Bastille prisoner and consequent sufTerer from 
the tyranny of the old regime,^ is the popular idol of the 
mob. No sooner has Darnay been restored to Lucie, 
however, than he is again arrested (chap. 7) and this time 
the accusers are Citizen and Citizeness Defarge,- and, 
despite his own amazement and denial. Dr. Manette, him- 
self (chap. 9). The prosecution by the Repubhc rests 
upon a paper written by Dr. Manette while imprisoned 
in the Bastille, and discovered by Defarge when the Bas- 
tille was destroyed. 

Dr. Manette's story as read before the Tribunal of the 
Repubhc is a tragic one (chap. 10). He as a young and 
rising physician was summoned one evening to the 
chateau of two unknown noblemen. 

There he was called on to attend a young peasant 
woman who was in a delirious fever caused by the wrongs 

^ See note : Ancien regime. 

^ See note : Citizen and citizeness. 


done to herself, her husl)and, and her father hy the owners 
of the chateau. In an adjoining room was a dying boy, 
brother of the unhappy woman, whose fatal wound was 
inflicted by one of the nobles. Dr. Manette was too late 
to save either of the victims of the aristocrats' cruelty, 
but he resolved to rei)ort the double tragedy to the proper 
authorities, though he had been warned to keep his own 
counsel. As a result he was thrust into the Bastille, 
where he was destined to remain for eighteen years. In 
the account of the circumstances which led to his im- 
prisonment written in his tenth year in the Bastille, Dr. 
Manette denounced the family which caused his downfall 
and all its descendants. 

The family was the noble one of Evremonde, and con- 
sequently Charles Darnay, son and nephew of the tw^o 
brothers, is sentenced to death by the guillotine within 
twenty-four hours (chap. 10). 

It is then that Sydney Carton, ennobled by his love for 
Lucie, accomplishes his great sacrifice which will make 
amends for a wasted life. His quick wits gain him en- 
trance to the prison (chap. 10) ; he drugs Darnay, changes 
clothes with him, and sends him on his way back to Eng- 
land with Lucie, their child, and Dr. Manette. Carton 
dies at the guillotine (chap. 15), but in his death he 
exhibits a sense of peace and calm satisfaction in his great 
contribution to the happiness of one he loved. 


The setting of A Talc of T^i'o Cities is in England 
and Erance (the "two cities'' are London and Paris) 


from 1/75 to 1793. Since the events and the customs 
of the period were so different from those of our own 
day, the author must take pains to reproduce the atmos- 
phere of the times for us. Thus the setting or back- 
ground of the novel is especially important. 

Historical Background 

In his study of the historical background of A Tale 
of Two Cities, Dickens depended largely on Carlyle's 
French Revolution. It is said that as Dickens desired 
to familiarize himself more thoroughly with the history 
of the time, he asked Carlyle to lend him some of the 
authorities referred to in his book; and that Carlyle, in 
a spirit of jest, sent him two cart-loads of books ! Cer- 
tain it is that Dickens's natural sympathy with the down- 
trodden and the oppressed supplemented by a study of 
many of the available works of reference on the period 
has enabled him to give to us a portrait of the time 
inferior to few. 

The Period in France 

Before the Revolution 

The French Revolution was not, as were the American 
Revolution and the "Glorious Revolution" of 1689 i" 
England, mainly political. It is true that in France a 
despotic system of government was overthrown and one 
more in accordance with the new democratic creed of the 
times, instituted. But there was also a change in social, 


economic, and moral ideas which was destined to have a 
far more wide-spread effect than could any mere change 
in government. 

The forces which gave rise to the French Kevohition 
had been preparing for centuries. They had their origin 
in the old feudal system which was based on class dis- 
tinctions, especially the granting of privileges to all 
classes above the lowest. In the years immediately pre- 
ceding the Revolution, the climax was reached when the 
king, who represented the upper class in himself, indulged 
his love of power in new acts of almost unbelievable 

The ruler was an absolute monarch, in all that the term 
implies. He claimed to rule by divine right, and was, 
therefore, not responsible to his people for any act what- 
soever. Nevertheless, it was these very people over whom 
he had supreme authority, for he made the laws, levied 
the taxes, spent them as he chose, declared wars, made 
peace— all according to his personal whim. In truth, the 
words of Louis XIV were but a statement of fact: 
"L'Etat, c'est moi!" (The state: that is myself.) 

The French king lived in luxury that has never been 
surpassed. The three rulers who immediately preceded 
the Revolution (Louis XIV, XV, XVI) resided in the 
splendid palaces of Versailles, twelve miles from Paris. 
The dwelling which had cost about a hundred million 
dollars in terms of our money to-day; which contained 
hundreds of rooms, including a chapel, a theatre, numer- 
ous dining halls and salons ; and which was surrounded 
by gorgeous formal gardens, beautiful statues and foun- 
tains, and artificial lakes, housed the most brilliant court 


of all Europe — a court numbering over fifteen thousand 

Here luxury ran riot. Queen Marie Antoinette alone 
had five hundred servants. Her baby girl required the 
services of eighty more. The king's table cost more than 
a million and a half dollars a year, while the royal stables, 
which contained nearly nineteen hundred horses and more 
than two hundred carriages, cost annually the equivalent 
of four million dollars. In 1789, the very year of the 
outbreak of the Revolution which was to end the prac- 
tice forever, the king spent twenty million dollars on his 
court at Versailles, while he had presented to his favorite 
courtiers, in the fifteen years preceding, the equivalent 
of more than one hundred million dollars of our money. 

The taxes which supported this extravagance were se- 
cured in this way. All France was divided into three 
classes : the Clergy, the Nobility, and the Third Estate. 
Since the first two classes were exempt from many, if 
not from all, of the taxes, the burden of supporting the 
government and the court fell upon the class least able 
to afford it. Turgot, the minister of finance, estimated 
that the peasants, the largest division of the third estate, 
since France was an agricultural country, paid fifty-five 
per cent, of what they were able to earn to the state. 
Small wonder that once power was secured to them, it 
became an instrument of danger in their hands. 

The Revolution. 

The Government, desperately in need of even more 
money than was forthcoming, called, in 1789, a meeting 

A TALE or 7irO CITJFS i.^ 

of the Estates General, or representatives of the peoi)le, 
which had not met in 175 years. The representatives of 
the Third Estate, reahzing that they stood for ninety-six 
per cent, of the nation, almost at once formed by them- 
selves the National Assembly and took the famous "Ten- 
nis Court" oath, "to come together whenever circum- 
stances may dictate, until the constitution of the king- 
dom shall be established." 

While the National Assembly was attempting constitu- 
tional reforms in the matter of many of the old feudal 
abuses, the populace in Paris destroyed the Bastille, and 
the peasantry began to burn the castles of the nobles in 
order to wipe out the old feudal records. 

As a further evidence of the introduction of the new 
order, the National Assembly drew up a "Declaration of 
the Rights of Man" which Louis XVI hesitated to ratify. 
Consequently the Paris mob marched out to Versailles 
and threatened the king so vehemently that he and Marie 
Antoinette and the little Dauphin were forced to return 
to the Palace of the Tuileries in Paris, virtually as prison- 
ers. Meanwhile the National Assembly was at work on 
a constitution which would reform the evils of the old 
regime, and after two years' work, in 1791, the first 
French Republic was proclaimed. 

This permanent, peaceful revolution was followed by 
a bloody one known as the Reign of Terror. The horrors 
of this period are graphically described in A Tale of Two 




In the study of the background of the story the fol- 
lowing chapters are especially valuable: 

Book I, Chapter V: A picture of degradation, dirt, igno- 
rance and want in St. Antoine and similar slums 
in Paris before the Revolution. 
Book II, Chapter VII: The establishment of a typical 
wealthy nobleman in town. 
Chapter VIII and Chapter XXIII: A contrast be- 
tween the lives. of the wretched peasants and the 
luxury-loving nobility. 
Chapter XXI: The destruction of the Bastille (fol- 
lowing closely the historical accounts). 
Chapter XXII: The death of Foulon, the hard- 
hearted minister of finance (following closely the 
historical accounts). 
Book III, Chapter XV : The guillotine. 

The Period in England 

The conditions of life in England, though of less im- 
portance to the story than those in France, were by no 
means up to our modern standard of social justice. We 
see the inconveniences of travel by stage coach, the fear 
of highway robberies and other forms of lawlessness, the 
common use of the gallows and the pillory, and the in- 
efficiency and clumsiness of the law-trials with their 
accompaniment of unscrupulous, hired spies. 



The characters in A Tale of Two Cities are, as has 
been said, subordinate to the action. They are all blown 
this way and that in the storm of events which originates 
in the deep-seated determination of an oppressed people 
to break its bonds and rise superior to its jailers. 

Lucie Manette shares with many of Dickens's other 
heroines the misfortune of being drawn in so colorless 
and shadowy a manner, that she makes but a slender 
impression on the reader. She must be sweet and lov- 
able, for she can inspire affection in the breasts of Darnay 
and' Carton, of her father and Mr. Lorry, and of the 
faithful Miss Pross. She has a gentle seriousness of 
demeanor, and seems capable of retaining her poise and 
dignity under great emotional stress, although she does 
faint on one occasion— after the manner common among 
Victorian heroines. She is a devoted daughter, a loving 
wife, a sympathetic friend; but she is not a character 
on whom the memory loves to linger. 

Charles Darnay is a fitting companion to Lucie in that 
he seems possessed of all the virtues and yet lacks the 
breath of life which we are accustomed to expect of a 
Dickens character. He shows no trace of the haughty, 
contemptuous, cold-hearted spirit of the Evremondes, so 
he has evidently inherited better qualities from his mother, 
who was anxious to make what amends she could for 
her husband's cruelty. Darnay is so little in sympathy 
with the conduct of noble French families before the 
Revolution that he leaves his extensive estate in France 


to support himself by his own labors in democratic Eng- 
land. His sense of duty is strong, for he makes what 
he knows must be a dangerous journey to France to aid 
the imprisoned Gabelle. Darnay is helpful to those in 
distress— as he proves himself to be on shipboard the 
night he first meets Lucie; he is brave in the face of 
misfortune; in a word, he is, at all times, a noble, honor- 
able, chivalrous gentleman. 

The pathos in Sydney Carton's character consists in 
his realization of his own shortcomings, and yet his seem- 
ing helplessness at their correction. For example- he 
knows that his mentality, his quickness of perception 
should make him a success at the bar, but he is 
content to waste his talents as Stryver's assistant while 
Stryver wins the resulting honor and advancement He 
has the noblest feelings as his final sacrifice shows, but 
he is incapable of making a daily, sustained efifort to 
correct his slovenly habits and his excessive drinking 
and thus make himself worthy of Lucie and happiness. 
He wastes his energies and his abilities during a life- 
time, only to have them compressed into one glorious 
moment at the close. It is unnecessary to mention Car- 
ton s capacity for the deepest and noblest affection, since 
his final sacrifice is its obvious manifestation; but his 
constant tender solicitude for Lucie is additional emphasis 
as to the strength of his feeling. We read that "the con- 
ception of this character shows in its author an ideal 
of magnanimity-of charity never surpassed. There is 
not a grander, lovelier figure than the self-wrecked self- 
devoted Sydney Carton, in literature or history "' 
It is impossible for the reader not to be aghast at the 

.1 TALK 01' TWO CI TIES 17 

white-hot fury which pr{Ji)els Madame Defarge, and 
which makes her the leader in a movement in whicli even 
her husband would have faltered had it not been for 
her indomitable spirit of revenge. She is in the fore- 
front at the liastille, at Foulon's death, at the trials by 
the Revolutionary Tribunal, at the guillotine. On the 
one hand she can inflict death in the bloodiest, most 
brutal manner; on the other, she is needed to warn St. 
Antoine of si)ies by the use of tact and finesse, or to 
keep, so accurately, that there is no possibility of error, 
the knitted register of those condemned to die. Her own 
ignominious death seems almost an insult to one who is 
so clearly capable of scaling the heights — whether of 
virtue or infamy. It has been said that "Madame Defarge 
will remain the type of a powerful nature poisoned by 
injustice, and become the incarnation of inexorable and 
tireless hate." 

Minor Characters 

Dickens's gift for humorous caricature is not exhibited 
to the full in this story, although evidences of it are seen 
in the persons of Miss Pross, and, of Jerry Cruncher. 

Miss Press's selflessness and devotion to her "Lady- 
bird," and her inherent fine feeling seem at odds with 
her brusque manner, her meager knowledge of the world, 
and her startling appearance. 

Jerry Cruncher's two-fold occupation piques our in- 
terest from the start. By day, he is a trusted, confiden- 
tial servant and odd-job-man for the respected banking 
house of Tellson & Co. ; by night, he is a "resurrection 
man," one who digs up dead bodies, obviously to sell 


them to medical men for scientific experiments. His atti- 
tude toward Mrs. Cruncher's "flopping" provides much 
of the humor to our knowledge of his character, but, as 
Dickens says, "The devoutest person could have rendered 
no greater homage to the efficiency of an honest prayer 
than he did in this distrust of his wife." So far as 
Jerry's real goodness of heart is concerned, it is proved 
to us by the effect produced upon him by the terrible 
scenes he witnessed in France. He not only resolves to 
give up his unsavory midnight occupation which he had 
previously termed "only fishin'," but he declares that 
"Them poor things well out o' this, and never no more 
will I interfere with Mrs. Cruncher's flopping, never no 
more !" 



"A king with a large jaw an-d a queen with a plain face 
on the throne of England" refers to George III, noted 
for his obstinacy in dealings at home as well as with the 
American colonies, and his wife, Charlotte, who was fat 
and ugly. 


"A king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face 
on the throne of France" refers to Louis XVI and his 
beautiful wife, Marie Antoinette, who was the daughter 
of one of the ablest of European rulers. Queen Maria 
Theresa of Austria. Marie Antoinette was only fifteen 
when she came to France as Louis's bride in 1770, and 
four years later, on hearing of the death of the old king, 
Louis XV, the youthful couple are said to have fallen 


on their knees, exclaiming, "God help us ; we are too 
young to rule." The queen's beauty and charm fascinated 
her people at times, but for the most part they hated her, 
and nicknamed her "The Austrian Woman" for her sup- 
posed sympathies with the country of her birth, and 
"Madame Deficit" for her reckless extravagance. It is 
she, too, who is credited with saying, when told that many 
of her people had no bread to eat, "Then let them eat 
cake." Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette met death at 
the guillotine in 1793. 

The guillotine, affectionately personified by the Revo- 
lutionists as La Guillotine or even St. Guillotine, was an 
instrument for beheading those who aroused the dis- 
pleasure of the Revolutionary Tribunal. It was com- 
posed of two upright posts, grooved on the inside, and 
connected at the top by a crossbeam. In these grooves, 
a sharp iron blade descended by its own weight on the 
neck of the victim who was bound to a board below. 
The Guillotine, named for Dr. Joseph Ignace Guillotine, 
its supposed inventor, has been considered almost the 

emblem of the Reign of Terror. 

Lettres de cachet or sealed letters were orders issued 
by the king for the arrest and arbitrary imprisonment 
of any one he pleased. Without trial or formality of any 
sort, a person might be cast into a dungeon for an in- 
definite period, until the king happened to remember him 
again or was reminded by the poor man's friends. As 
these notorious orders of arrest were nof difficult to 


obtain by any one who had influence with the king or 
his favorites, they often furnished an easy and effective 
way of disposing of a personal enemy. 

Tumbrils were farmers' dump-carts which were used 
to transport the condemned from prison to guillotine. 

The Reign of Terror is a term given to a period dur- 
ing the French Revolution, when the Committee of Public 
Safety adopted the policy of stifling all opposition by 
terror. The Committee established in Paris a special 
court known as the Revolutionary Tribunal. Its duty 
was to try and to guillotine, if guilty, all those suspects 
who by their conduct or. remarks had shown that they 
were not in sympathy with the policies of the Revolu- 
tionists, including particularly all former nobles and the 
wives, fathers, mothers, and children of those who had 
left the country. 

Emigres were the emigrant nobles ; that is, those who 
fled from the country at the beginning of the Revolution. 
The mere fact that a man had been aft emigrant was 
sufficient evidence to condemn him to the guillotine dur- 
ing the Reign of Terror. 

"Liberty, Equality, Fraternity or Death" was the 
motto of the French Revolution. 

A red cap was the emblem of the Revolutionists. 


Citizen and Citizeness were the titles Ijy which, ac- 
cording to a Revolutionary decree, all loyal members of 
the Republic must address each other instead of by the 
prerevolutionary "Monsieur" and "Madame." 

The tri-color, or French national emblem, of vertical 
stripes of blue, white, and red, was adopted at the out- 
break of the Revolution as the badge of the National 


The Bastille in Paris was originally a fortress with 
eight massive, battlemented towers, thick walls, and a 
moat twenty-five feet wide ; but it later became the state 
prison. It was hated as the emblem of despotism, be- 
cause many of the prisoners detained without trial by 
means of lettres de cachet were confined to it. The Bas- 
tille was stormed and destroyed, and its prisoners freed 
by the Paris mob at the outbreak of the Revolution in 
1789. July 14, the anniversary of the taking of the Bas- 
tille, is still celebrated as a national holiday in France. 

Ancien Regime or Old Regime applies to the social 
and political systems of France w^hich preceded, and gave 
rise to, the Revolution. 

Farmers-generals or tax-farmers w^re private indi- 
viduals who, under the old regime, paid a lump sum of 
money to the state and then themselves collected the 


taxes, attempting, of course, to extract as much as pos- 
sible from the people. 

Jacques was a name common among the peasantry of 
France; therefore the term Jacquerie is applied to the 
peasantry, as a whole, particularly as opposed to the 
nobility. It is doubtful whether the secret society, to 
which Dickens considers the term, Jacques, a pass-word, 
really existed. 


Dickens's fame depends largely on his inimitable gift 
for humor. This quality is less obvious in A Tale of 
Two Cities than in his other books, since, as has been 
said, he does not here give reign to his genius for cari- 
cature or humorous exaggeration of characters. The fol- 
lowing examples will, however, show Dickens's methods : 

The scene was Mr. Cruncher's private lodging in 
Hanging-sword Alley, Whitef riars ; the time, half-past 
seven of the clock on a windy March morning, Anno 
Domini seventeen hundred and eighty. (Mr. Cruncher 
himself always spoke of the year of our Lord as Anna 
Dominoes: apparently under the impression that the 
Christian era dated from the invention of a popular game, 
by a lady who had bestowed her name upon it.) . . . 

Mr. Cruncher reposed under a patchwork counterpane, 
like a Harlequin at home. At first, he slept heavily, but, 
by degrees, began to roll and surge in bed, until he rose 
above the surface, with his spiky hair looking as if it 
must tear the sheets to ribbons. (Book II, Chapter I.) 

The highflown legal language of the courts, much of 
which had become meaningless jargon even to those who 


used it, is amusingly satirized in Book II, Chapter 2, as 
follows : 

Silence in the court ! Charles Darnay had yesterday 
pleaded Not Giiilty to an indictment denouncing him 
(with infinite jingle and jangle) for that he was a false 
traitor to our serene, illustrious, excellent, and so forth, 
prince, our Lord the King, by reason of his having, on 
divers occasions, and by divers means and ways, assisted 
Lewis, the French King, in his wars against our said 
serene, illustrious, excellent, and so forth ; that was to 
say, by coming and going between the dominions of our 
said serene, illustrious, excellent, and so forth, and those 
of the said French Lewis, and wickedly, falsely, traitor- 
ously, and otherwise evil-adverbiously, revealing to the 
said French Lewis what forces our said serene, illustrious, 
excellent, and so forth, had in preparation to send to 
Canada and North America. 

Dickens is almost as skillful in the use of pathos as 
in his use of humor. Occasionally, he exaggerates his 
pathetic bits, and thus spoils the effect he wishes to give, 
but as a rule his appeal to our sympathies is successful. 
Instances of the artistic use of pathos in A Tale of Two 
Cities are : 

The dazed, almost childish helplessness of Dr. Manette 
when he shows the strain of his years of imprisonment. 
(Book I, Chapter VI.) 

Dr. iManette's eagerness to avoid his occasional spells 
of reverting to his shoemaker's tools. (Book II, Chap- 
ter XIX.) 

The loneliness of Sydney Carton on the night before 
he surrenders his life to bring hai:)piness to his beloved. 
(Book III, Chapter IX.) 

The little seamstress at the guillotine. (Book III, 
Chapter XIII.) 


Another distinctive feature of Dickens's style exhibited 
in A Tale of Two Cities is his tendency to foreshadow 
a coming event by referring to it in metaphor which will, 
be intelligible only to those who can read between the 
lines. For instance, the horrors of the Reign of Terror 
are suggested in Book I, Chapter V, The Wine-Shop, 
when we read : 

The wine was red wine, and had stained the ground 
of the narrow street in the suburb of Saint Antoine, in 
Paris, where it was spilled. It had stained many hands, 
too, and many faces, and many naked feet, and many 
wooden shoes. The hands of the man who sawed the 
wood left red marks on the billets; and the forehead of 
the woman who nursed her baby was stained with the 
stain of the old rag she wound about her head again. 
Those who had been greedy with the staves of the cask 
had acquired a tigerish smear about the mouth ; and one 
tall joker so besmirched, his head more out of a long 
squalid bag of a nightcap than in it, scrawled upon a 
wall with -his finger dipped in muddy wine lees — Blood. 

The time was to come, when that wine too would be 
spilled on the street stones, and when the stain of it 
would be red upon many there. 

In Book II, Chapter IV, we see the suggestion of the 
dark fate that will befall Sydney Carton in the mention 
of a winding sheet: 

He resorted to his pint of wine for consolation, drank 
it all in a few minutes, and fell asleep on his arms, with 
his hair straggling over the table, and a long winding- 
sheet in the candle dripping down upon him. 

The footsteps heard echoing around the Manettes' 
little home in Soho, London, are symbolic of the hordes 


of people whose lives are destined to affect the lives of 
the characters we know. In liook IT, Chapter \'I, we 
have : 

There was a great hurry in the streets, of people speed- 
ing away to get shelter before the storm broke; the won- 
derful corner for echoes resounding with the echoes of 
footsteps coming and going, yet not a footstep was there. 

"A multitude of people, and yet a solitude!" said 
Darnay, .when they had listened for a while. 

'Ts it not impressive, Mr. Uarnay?" asked Lucie. 
"Sometimes I have sat here of an evening, . . . listening, 
until I have made the echoes out to be the echoes of 
all the footsteps that are coming by and by into our 
lives, . . . into my life, and my father's." 

"1 take them into mine," said Carton. '7 ask no ques- 
tions and make no stipulations. There is a great crowd 
bearing down upon us, Miss Manette, and I see them ! — 
by the Lightning." He added the last words after there 
had been a vivid flash which had shown him lounging in 
the window. 

"And I hear them !" he added again, after a peal of 
thunder. ''Here they come, fast, fierce, and furious !" 

Afadame Defarge's knitting has a sinister effect on the 
reader, who realizes the ominous purpose the knitted 
register will serve. She expresses the connection between 
her apparently innocent knitting and her victims' fate at 
the guillotine, in IJook H, Chapter XV, wiien she says: 

"Yes ; I have a good deal to do." 
"What do you make, madame?" 
"Many things." 
"For instance — " 

"For instance," returned Aladame Defarge composedly, 



I. Birth. 

A. Portsea, England. 

B. 1812. 

II. Parents. 

A. Father. 

1. John Dickens. 

2. Employee of the Navy Pay Office. 

3. Man of hopeful but improvident nature. 

B. Mother. 

1. Elizabeth Barron. 

2. Her son's earhest instructress in reading. 

III. Childhood. 

A. Early homes. 

1. Portsea. 

2. Rochester. 

3. Chatham. 

B. Favorite books. 

Roderick Random, Peregrine Pickle, Humphrey 
Clinker, Tom Jones, The Vicar of Wakefield, 
Don Quixote, Gil Bias, Robinson Crusoe. 

C. Removal to London. 

1. Disintegration of his father's fortune. 

2. Removal of all the family except Charles to 
Marshalsea Prison for debt. 

3. Experience in a blacking factory. 

D. Brief period of education at Wellington House 

IV. Young manhood. 

A. Experience as an office boy in a solicitor's office. 


B. Promotion to a clerkship in Gray's Inn. 

C. Career as a reporter. 

D. Beginning of literary life, 1833, Mr. Minns and 
His Cousin. 

Later Life. 

A. Production of Sketches by Boz between 1833 and 

B. Marriage to Catherine Hogarth, 1836. 

C. Literary output between 1837 and 1842. 

1. Oliver Twist. 

2. Nicholas Nickleby. 

3. The Old Curiosity Shop. 

4. Barnaby Rtidge. 

D. Trip to America, 1842. 

1. His new acquaintances. 

a. Richard Henry Dana. 

b. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 

c. Charles Sumner. 

2. Production of American Notes. 

3. Production of Martin Chuzdezvit. 

E. Life between 1844 and 1848. 

1. Year spent in Genoa. 

2. Interest in private performances (jf old Eng- 
lish comedies. 

3. Quiet life at Lausanne. 

4. Production of 

a. Dombey and Son. 

b. Christmas Stories. 

F. Life between 1848 and 1856. 

1. Production of David Cop per field. 

2. Production of Bleak House. 


3. Journey to Italy with Wilkie Collins, 1853. 

4. Public readings at Birmingham. 

5. Production of Hard Times. 

6. Production of Little Dorrit. 
G. Last Days. 

1. Purchase of Gadshill Place, the gratification 
of his life-long desire, 1856. 

2. Separation from wife. 

3. Production of ^ Tale of Two Cities, 1859. 

4. Production of Great Expectations. 

5. Lecture tour in America. 

6. Arrangement for a series of one hundred 
readings in England. 

7. Beginning of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. 
H. Death. 

1. June 9, 1870. 

2. Burial in Westminster Abbey. 


1. Write a composition of 150 words on a or h. 

a. Life at the wine shop. 

h. The "knitting women" of the Revolution. 

2. Why is A Tale of Two Cities called an historical romance 
rather than an historical novel? 

3. How does A Tale of Two Cities differ from any other Dickens 
novel you have read in respect to plot? In respect to character 

4. Give the main thread only of the plot of A Tale of Tivo Cities. 

5. Jerry Cruncher is necessary to the story only once: when he 
gains Sydney Carton entrance into prison by enabling him to 
contradict John Barsad's statement in regard to Roger Cly's 


death. Then why has the author given so much space to 
Jerry tliroughout the story? 

6. Is Charles Darnay or Sydney Carton the hero of the story? 
Give your reasons. 

7. Why would it have been a poor plan for Dickens to have 
written a happy ending to the story by 

a. Having Carton marry Lucie; 

b. Having Carton marry someone else? 

8. Is A Talc of Two Cities a good title? Is it better than any 
of the following titles which Dickens noted but later dis- 
carded: One of These Days, Buried Alive, The Thread of 
Gold, The Doctor of Beauvais, Long Ago, Five and Twenty 


1. Write a well constructed narrative on the following topic; 
choose the material from the book from which the topic is taken 
and write as though the reader were unacquainted with the 
book: How a drunkard proved a hero in his death {A Tale of 
Two Cities). 

2. Give an account of the characteristics of the French com- 
mon people as they are depicted in A Tale of Tivo Cities. 

3. In paragraph form describe the principal character in A 
Tale of Tzi'o Cities and show in what respects he or she is made 

4. Write a character sketch of Jerry Cruncher and of Aladame 

5. Mention tz\.'o American ideals and show in detail how they 
are embodied in A Tale of Two Cities. 

6. Show how, in your judgment, A Tale of Two Cities dis- 
plays good delineation of human nature or lively humor on the 
part of the author. In about 150 words discuss this novel with 
regard to one or both of the qualities mentioned. 

7. Tell whether you consider A Talc of Tivo Cities particu- 
larly good for girls or for boys and give the reasons. 

8. Write a review of A Talc of Two Cities including at least 
two of the following points: (i) other works by the author or 


writer, (2) summary of the book, (3) persons to whom the book 
would appeal. 

9. Among the great themes of English literature are love, war, 
nature, religion, patriotism, liberty, brotherhood and passion for 
a better world order. Show how A Tale of Two Cities develops 
one or more of these themes. 

10. With reference to A Tale of Two Cities answer the three 
questions given below: 

(i) Who was the principal male character in the story? 

(2) What part did he play in the story? 

(3) What criticism of approval or disapproval would you 
make of the action of the hero? 

11. Tell the story of Dr. Manette's experiences in France up 
to the time A Tale of Two Cities opens. 

12. Write a composition of 150 words on The Devotion of 
Sydney Carton. 


Walter Bagehot. — Article on Charles Dickens in Literary 
Studies, Vol. II. E. P. Dutton. 

Richard Burton. — Charles Dickens. Bobbs-Merrill Co. 

G. K. Chesterton. — Appreciation and Criticism of the Works 
of Charles Dickens. E. P. Dutton. 

G. K. Chesterton. — Charles Dickens: A Critical Study. Dodd, 
Mead & Co. 

Mamie Dickens. — Charles Dickens, by His Eldest Daughter. 

George Dolby. — Charles Dickens as I Knew Him. Lippincott 
& Co. 

John Forster. — The Life of Charles Dickens. Charles Scrib- 
ner's Sons. 

George Gissing. — Charles Dickens: A Critical Study. Dodd, 
Mead & Co. 

Frederick G. Kitton. — Charles Dickens: His Life, Writings, 
and Personality. D. Appleton & Co. 


F. T. Marziah.— Charles Dickens (in Great Writers Series). 
VV. Scott, London. 

Belle Moses.— C7/(/r/('.f Dickens. D. Applcton & Co. 

Leslie Stephen.— Article on Charles Dickens in Dictionary of 
National Biography. The Alacmillan Co. 

A. W. Ward.— CVmWt'j Dickens (in English Men of Letters 
Series). Harper & Brothers. 

The Letters of Charles Dickens, edited by Mamie Dickens 
and Georgina Hogarth. Charles Scribner's Sons. 

For more complete bibliographies on the life of Charles 
Dickens, consnlt Charles Dickens: A list of books and of refer- 
ences to periodicals in the Brooklyn Public Lijjrary, Brooklyn, 
New York. Brooklyn Public Library. 

Bibliography by John P. Anderson in Charles Dickens, by F. 
T. Alarzials (above). 


Wilbur L. Cross.— The Development of the English Novel. 
The Macmillan Co. 

David Masson.— British Novelists and their Styles. The Mac- 
millan Co. 

Bliss Perry.— A Study of Prose Fiction. Chapter 9. Houghton, 
Mifflin & Co. 

Historical Background 

Cambridge Modern History. Vol. VHL 
Thomas Car\y\e.—The French Revolution. 
Compare particularly : 
Book H, Chapter 21, of A Tale of Tivo Cities with 
Part I, Book 5, Chapter 6, of Carlyle for taking of 
Book n, Chapter 22, of A Tale\ of Tivo Cities with 
Part I, Book 5, Chapter 9, of Carlyle for murder of 
Book HI, Chapter 5 of ^ Tale of Tivo Cities with 
Part HI, Book 5, Chapter 4, of Carlyle for dance of 



Mrs. S. R. Gardiner.— T/j(? French Revolution. 
W. E. H. Lecky. — England in the Eighteenth Century. Vol. V. 
E. S. Lowell.— r/;<? Eve of the French Revolution. 
Justin H. McCarthy.— 7/? t' French RevoUition. 
Masson.— Outlines of the History of France. Chapter 5. 
(Abridged from Guizot's History of Frdnce.) 
H. D. Traill. — Social England. Volume 5. 


(French and English fiction dealing with the period of A Tale 
of Two Cities.) 

r A Gondreville Mystery. 
\ The Conscript. 


La Comtesse de Charny. 

Le Chevalier de Maison-Rougc. 
[ Madame Therese. 
\ The Story of a Peasant. 
{ The Reds of the Midi. . 

The Terror. 

The White Terror. 


Beauty and the Jacobin. 

La Vendee. 

Adventures of Francois. 
( Noblesse Oblige. 
\ Child of the Revolution. 
j Citoyenne Jacqueline: A Woman's Lot 
\ in the Great French Revolution. 

Honore de Balzac : 
Edward Bulwer-Lytton 
Alexandre Dumas: 

Erckmann-Chatrian : 

Felix Gras : 

Victor Hugo: - 
Booth Tarkington : 
Anthony Trollope: 
S. Weir Mitchell : 

Margaret Roberts : 
Sarah Tytler : 



014 459 164 1