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Facts in A Tale of Two Cities

Facts Examples in A Tale of Two Cities:

Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter I

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"Even the Cock-Lane ghost..."   (Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter I)

A house on Cock-Lane (a street in Smithfield, which is a locality in Central London) was thought to be haunted by the spirit of a woman who may have been murdered nearby. The alleged haunting garnered a great deal of public attention because of unaccountable noises heard over the course of several months in 1762.

"Mrs. Southcott..."   (Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter I)

Joanna Southcott (1750–1814) was an English woman who believed she was a religious prophetess as well as the woman in the biblical book of Revelations who will give birth to the Messiah.

"Newgate..."   (Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter I)

Newgate was a large London prison which held many public executions during the time period of A Tale of Two Cities. Originally built in 1188, the prison was finally demolished in 1902.

"two of the large jaws..."   (Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter I)

Through this phrase, Dickens again references the King George III of England and King Louis XVI of France.

"Blackheath..."   (Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter II)

Blackheath is probably Blackheath, London—an area in the southeastern part of the city, between the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the London Borough of Lewisham.

"tinder-box..."   (Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter II)

A tinder-box is a small box containing supplies to create a fire, including flint, sulphur-tipped matches, and tinder of some kind (usually charcloth, which is fabric made from vegetable fiber). Tinder-boxes were commonly used until friction matches were invented in the late 19th century.

"Temple Bar..."   (Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter II)

The Temple Bar is the western entrance into London from Westminster, known for its elaborate and ornate decorations. The north side houses the 19th century Royal Courts of Justice or Law Courts.

"DOVER..."   (Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter II)

Located in southeastern England, Dover is the closest coastal town to the rest of Europe. The famous medieval Dover Castle is home to some of the most extensive Secret Wartime Tunnels.

"leap-frog..."   (Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter III)

Leap-frog is a game (predominantly a children’s game) requiring one player to bend down while another player leaps over him/her. The game has been known as “leap-frog” since the late 16th century in Europe though it may have been popular for even longer.

"sea-coal..."   (Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter IV)

Sea coal is a mineral coal that originates in coal seams on sea cliffs or in underwater deposits. It is of a higher quality than charcoal, which can cause a great deal of pollution. Consequently, sea coal is more expensive than charcoal.

"packet..."   (Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter IV)

“Packet” here is short for “packet ship.” A packet ship was a small boat that transported mail, as well as passengers and freight. They were heavily used during the time in which A Tale of Two Cities was set.

"Royal George Hotel..."   (Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter IV)

The Royal George Hotel is likely based on The Ship Hotel in Dover, or the Hotel and Ship Inn that faced the Granville Dock on Custom House Quay. It was eventually demolished in 1860 (one year after A Tale of Two Cities was published) in order to make room for a new portion of the railway.

"Channel..."   (Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter IV)

The word "Channel" refers to the English Channel, the body of water separating southern England and northern France. English foreign policy during the late 16th century intended to prevent invasion; later, during the 18th century, England's Royal Navy controlled most of the seas around Europe including the Channel.

"ward..."   (Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter IV)

The word "ward" refers to someone who is under the care of a legal body. In this case, Lucie Manette is under the supervision of Tellson's Bank. Unlike many orphans, Lucie is a ward and is well-provided.

"faintness of solitude and disuse...."   (Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter VI)

Dickens strongly opposed solitary confinement, especially as a means of punishment. He was appalled when he discovered the prevalence of this method during an 1842 visit to a Philadelphia prison. He attributed the popularity of solitary confinement to the ignorance of “those who devised this system of Prison Discipline, and those benevolent gentlemen who carry it into execution.”

"Anno Domini..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter I)

Anno Domini is a latin phrase which means “the Year of Our Lord." Similar to B.C. ("before Christ"), the term labels the years in the Julian and Gregorian calendars following the death of Jesus Christ.

"Old BAILEY..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter II)

The Old Bailey is the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, first established during the mid-16th century. During the 18th century, the Old Bailey was located near the Newgate jail, where crowds gathered to watch the numerous public hangings and throw rotten produce at the condemned.

"quartering..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter II)

The word "quartering" refers to the punishment of cutting the body into four pieces before an execution. Sometimes, it was done as a form of spectacle after the execution.

"pillory..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter II)

The word "pillory" refers to a wooden frame with neck and wrist cutouts, used to expose prisoners and humiliate them before the public.

"Bedlam..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter II)

The Bethlehem Royal Hospital, also known as Bedlam, was England's first insane asylum. It was known for its terrible living conditions and poor patient care. Today, the hospital has transformed into a modern psychiatric facility with King's College London.

"Privy Council..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter III)

A privy council is a group of advisers appointed by the English sovereign, and made up of present and former government ministers from the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

"debtors’ prison..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter III)

Throughout Western Europe during this time period, those who could not repay their debts were sent to debtor's prisons. There, debtors would live and work until they paid off their debts.

"Calais and Boulogne..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter III)

Calais and Boulogne are French ports located along the English Channel. Calais was known throughout the 17th century as a maritime city and smuggling center; later, Boulogne rose to prominence during the 18th century as a popular bathing site.

"Judas..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter III)

Judas, one of the thirteen disciples, betrayed Jesus Christ to Pontius Pilate for thirty pieces of silver. The comparison between Barsad and Judas demonstrate that Barsad is not the "unimpeachable patriot" he claims to be.

"Bastille..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter IV)

Bastille is a 14th century fortress built in Saint Antoine, Paris, first used to protect France during the Hundred Years War. During the French Revolution, the fortress was used as a prison.

"Hilary Term and Michaelmas..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter V)

“Michaelmas”—or “Michaelmas Term”—and “Hilary Term” are the first and second terms at several prominent universities in the United Kingdom, with a term referring to a designated period of time during the academic calendar. Both are named after the feasts of saints that fall during the span of their terms: Michaelmas, which lasts from September or October to Christmas, commemorates the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels on September 29. Hilary Term, which lasts from January to March, refers to the Feast of St. Hilary of Poitiers on January 14.

"Sessions..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter V)

“The Sessions” were meetings among legal officials to discuss and carry out court business. Mr. Stryver, as a prominent and successful lawyer, regularly participated in these meetings.

"Jackal..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter V)

Jackals—small, nocturnal, and opportunistic scavengers—appear frequently as a symbol throughout the novel. Victorians often associate jackals to hard labor with little payoff because they hide their prey in order to hide it from large predators. Sydney Carton is akin to a jackal who performs tedious, laborious tasks for Mr. Stryver, the larger predator.

"Bacchanalian propensities..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter V)

The adjective “Bacchanalian” alludes to Bacchus, the ancient Roman god of wine known for debauchery and intoxication. The phrase used here—"Bacchanalian propensities"—means drunkenness.

"Clerkenwell..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter VI)

Clerkenwell is located in the London Borough of Islington in central London. During the time of A Tale of Two Cities, it was known for the manufacture of watches and clocks.

"Soho Square..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter VI)

Dr. Manette’s home was likely based on the House of St. Barnabas—or, as it would have been known during the time of A Tale of Two Cities, the House of Charity. The House of St. Barnabas has been operated as a charity to support people experiencing homelessness since 1862. Its entrance faces Manette Street (named for Dr. Manette).

"Farmer-General..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter VII)

French peasants, who were already starving, had to pay an exorbitant amount of taxes to government coffers. Farmers-General were responsible for “farming” these taxes and were widely distrusted. Among other offenses, Farmers-General were suspected of “fleecing,” which involved over-collecting taxes and keeping what was not paid to the government.

"the merry Stuart..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter VII)

The “merry Stuart” refers to King Charles II from the royal House of Stuart, who figuratively “sold” England to France because he wanted England to convert to Roman Catholicism. The treaty, called the Treaty of Dover, required England to support France’s war with the Netherlands. In return, France provided a subsidy that freed King Charles II from his financial dependence on Parliament. The religious stipulations of the alliance were spelled out in a second treaty: the Secret Treaty of Dover.

"Convulsionists..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter VII)

The word "convulsionists" are similar to modern-day Shakers. As the name would suggest, they are members of a religious sect who demonstrate their religious zeal and emotional excitement by spontaneously moving during worship.

"Dervishes..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter VII)

The word "dervishes" refers to Turkish religious worshippers who whirl around endlessly as part of a religious rite.

"All its people were poor..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter VIII)

The poorest French peasants paid the highest tax rates during the time of A Tale of Two Cities. Conversely, French aristocrats paid very little or resisted taxation altogether. Unfair taxation was a key contributor to the advent of the French Revolution.

"the German ballad of Leonora?..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter IX)

The German “Ballad of Leonora” was written by Gottfried Augustus Bürger in the early 1770s. Though written in German, the Ballad was translated into English in the 1790s. In the ballad, Leonora loses her lover to battle and longs for death; her lover miraculously appears to carry her off to their “marriage bed.” The bed, however, is a grave, and “‘Twas Death that clasp’d the maid.” Dickens’s simile suggests a similarly grim outcome for Monsieur Gabelle as he makes his escape on a “double-laden” galloping horse.

"fashion of the last Louis ..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter IX)

The Marquis’s furniture dates back to the reign of King Louis XIV, somewhere between 1643 and 1715. The outdatedness of the Marquis’s furniture suggests not only his resistance to progress but also the prestige of his family name.

"Gorgon..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter IX)

In ancient Greek mythology, Gorgons were female monsters who had snakes for hair. Medusa is perhaps the most recognizable Gorgon. She was the only mortal Gorgon and was beheaded by Perseus. Those who looked upon her severed head turned to stone.

"drove a contraband trade in European languages..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter X)

During the time of A Tale of Two Cities, modern languages (including French, English, Spanish, and Portuguese) were not included in a gentleman’s education. Charles Darnay is tolerated as a “smuggler who drove a contraband trade in European languages” because he does not focus on tutoring in Latin or Greek at Cambridge.

"wet-towelling ..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XI)

Recollection (especially recalling “to life”) is an important theme in A Tale of Two Cities. In this case, Dr. Manette begs Charles Darnay to not disclose his true identity because it will “recall” memories that might trigger the resurrection of Dr. Manette’s trauma-induced amnesia.

"Ranelagh..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XII)

Ranelagh Gardens was another popular pleasure garden during the time of A Tale of Two Cities. Ranelagh was located in Chelsea, which at the time was just outside of London.

"Vauxhall Gardens;..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XII)

Vauxhall Gardens was a popular pleasure garden in Kennington, which is located on the south bank of the River Thames in London. During the time of A Tale of Two Cities, Vauxhall Gardens was accessible only by boat.

"St. Dunstan’s..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XII)

St. Dunstan’s, also known as the Guild Church of St. Dunstan-in-the-West, is located near Temple Bar on Fleet Street. Built around 1000 C.E., it was later rebuilt in 1831. The church of St. Dunstan's in the novel likely appeared differently than the one in Dickens's lifetime.

"a poet sat upon a stool in a public place..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XIV)

Dickens alludes to the poet Dante, who reportedly perched on a stool in public, possibly to watch the construction of the Florence cathedral (which was constructed in 1296).

"heathen rustic..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XIV)

Dickens compares Jerry Cruncher to Charon, the ferryman of Hades who newly-deceased souls across the rivers Styx and Acheron to Hades in the Underworld. Charon required payment for passage, so some bodies were buried with a coin in their eyes or on their mouths. Jerry Cruncher, who digs up corpses to sell, also makes a profit from the dead.

"dropsical..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XIV)

The word “dropsical” refers to an edema, a condition characterized by the accumulation of water in the body, especially the hands, feet, and ankles.

"Versailles..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XV)

The elaborate, grandiose Palace of Versailles was the seat of political power in France and home to King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette before they were forced to relocated to Paris once the revolution began. Versailles symbolizes the monarchy, wealth, and greed.

" plane-tree..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XVII)

Plane-trees (of the genus platanus) are common in the streets and parks of London. Though the first plane-trees were likely planted around 1550, many of the larger ones currently living were planted in the 19th century. The trees likely prospered during periods of severe pollution because their bark regularly flakes, thus shedding harmful pollutants.

"Warwickshire..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XVIII)

Warwickshire is a county in the West Midlands of England. The county is most famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare, who grew up in Stratford-on-Avon.

"Foulon..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XXII)

The name “Old Foulon” refers to Joseph-François Foullon de Doué, who was a politician and the Controller-General of Finances for King Louis XVI. He is rumored to have told starving French peasants to “eat hay” and was widely despised. He attempted to flee after the French Revolution began, but he was captured and beheaded after three failed attempts at hanging him. The peasants stuffed his mouth with hay before parading his head through the streets on a pike.

"dust he was..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XXIII)

The phrase “reflect that dust he was” alludes to the biblical book of Genesis 3:19, which details the fall of humanity after Eve eats the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. God punishes Adam and Eve by condemning them to a hard life of farming: “Cursed is the ground because of you;/ In toil you will eat of it/ All the days of your life.” God explains that they will die and be returned to the earth, “For you are dust,/ And to dust you shall return.”

"faces of low caste..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XXIII)

The phrase “faces of low caste” suggests a parallel between the French Revolution and the Indian Rebellion of 1857, which took place two years before the publication of A Tale of Two Cities. The Indian Rebellion was an uprising that violently and unsuccessfully protested the rule of Britain’s East India Company in India. One of the primary causes of the rebellion involved Indian resentment against the British for imposing high taxes, forcing social reform based on Western European customs, and stripping the traditionally high-caste nobility of their land.

"low caste..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XXIII)

The noun “caste” refers to the Hindu class system, which restricts occupations (and access to higher-caste individuals) based on inherited rank or privilege. Outside of Hindu society, a caste system generally features strict social barriers based on inherited status.

"sacristan..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XXIII)

The word “sacristan” refers to a sexton or church officer who presides over a church and its parish. This individuals also takes care of sacred equipment in a "sacristy."

"Sardanapalus’s..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XXIV)

Sardanapalus was an ancient king of Assyria. During the Romantic Era in Europe, this ancient king became a popular figure in literature and art because of his decadent and indulgent lifestyle.

"by Jupiter..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XXIV)

The exclamation “by Jupiter" or “by Jove” is similar to "by God" and is used to provide emphasis or display shock. During the 18th century, this phrase would have been used instead of "by God," which would have been considered profane.

"protégés..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XXIV)

The noun “protégé” refers to a student or mentee who receives training or guidance from an older and wiser person of authority, prominence, or social influence.

"Loadstone Rock..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XXIV)

The word "loadstone" refers to a magnet made of the magnetic oxide of iron. In marine navigation, loadstone rocks were used as compasses. Here, Dickens alludes to "The Third Calendar's Tale" from Arabian Nights, a story which follows Ajib as his ship sinks when it crashes into a loadstone rock. Through this allusion, Dickens suggests that Darney is drawn to Paris with the same connection as a ship to a loadstone rock, and that he will also encounter the same fate as Ajib.

"tricolour cockade..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter I)

The word “cockade” refers to the ribbons worn on a hat to demonstrate rank, a servant's livery, or loyalty to a political party. The "tricolour cockade" here is likely the colors of the French flag—red, white, and blue.

"ligatures..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter II)

The word "ligatures" refers to bindings, such as the torn linens used to tie the prisoners' wrists. Here, their hands are tied as they are brought to the guillotine.

"the king was tried, doomed, and beheaded;..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter IV)

King Louis XVI was executed by La Guillotine on the 21st of January, 1793, in “Revolution Square” (Place de la Révolution). The jury was nearly unanimous in its vote to condemn the king to death. The event initiated the Reign of Terror, which lasted until July of 1794.

"eleven hundred defenceless prisoners..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter IV)

Dickens refers to the September Massacres that took place in Paris for five days in early September, 1792. The revolutionaries were afraid that foreign armies would storm Paris and liberate prisoners who would join them in dismantling the republic. Radicals called for the preemptive execution of prisoners; as a result, more than 1200 prisoners (including women, children, and priests) were executed.

"tumbrels..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter V)

The noun “tumbrel” refers to a cart that was used to carry groups of condemned prisoners to the guillotine, where they would be publicly beheaded. Dickens frequently mentions the foreboding sound of tumbrels rattling through the streets of Paris.

"the Republic..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter VI)

The revolutionaries refer to themselves and all of France as “The Republic." The name represents the revolution’s intended focus on benefiting the lives of all citizens.

"Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter VII)

“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” (in French: liberté, égalité, fraternité) is the motto of the French Republic and became the national motto of France after the revolution ended. Dickens’s addition of “or Death” indicates that the republic does not in fact promote liberty, equality, or fraternity; one must comply with the republic’s demands or face inevitable death.

"Pont Neuf..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter VIII)

The Pont Neuf, which means “New Bridge” in French, is the oldest standing bridge in Paris along the river Seine. It stands beside the western point of the Île de la Cité, which was the birthplace of Paris, then known as Lutetia, between 250 and 225 BCE.

"fardens..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter IX)

The noun “farden," which is slang for “farthing,” was a form of UK currency equal to one quarter of a penny. In 1961, the farthing was removed from circulation.

"sarse..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter IX)

The noun “sarse" in the phrase "For you cannot sarse the goose and not the gander" is a variation of the cliché “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

"porterage..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter IX)

The noun “porterage” refers to the cost of hiring a porter. Porters carried baggage, supplies, or other burdens. In this case the porter carries tumbrels full of prisoners.

"the armorial bearings of a Noble, and the letter E...."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter X)

Armorial bearings (also called “coats of arms” or “heraldic arms”) indicated the rank of a member of the nobility. The original purpose of heraldic arms was for knights to identify one another in battle. The letter “E,” as we shall see, suggests that the two aristocrats may be Evremondes (Charles Darnay’s family), and furthermore may be connected to Dr. Manette’s lengthy imprisonment.

"instrument that was to terminate his life..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter XIII)

Although the guillotine is more recently associated with the French Revolution (and was nicknamed the “National Razor” of France), its invention far precedes the 18th century. A beheading machine called a “planke” was used in the Middle Ages in Germany and Flanders. The English—specifically Halifax in West Yorkshire—had used a sliding axe called the “Halifax Gibbet” for many centuries. La Guillotine may have been designed based on the more modern “mannaia” in Italy and the “Scottish Maiden” of Scotland, though primitive beheading machines were used in France for centuries.

"instrument that was to terminate his life..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter XIII)

The modern guillotine (also called the “louisette”) was designed by surgeon and physiologist Antoine Louis; however, it was named after physician Joseph Ignace Guillotin. Guillotin called for a more humane method of performing executions, which usually involved beheadings by sword or axe. The highly efficient guillotine soon became a national symbol for the French Revolution and was used extensively throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The last execution by guillotine in France took place in 1977.

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