Analysis Pages

Plot in A Tale of Two Cities

Plot Examples in A Tale of Two Cities:

Book the First: Recalled to Life - Chapter IV

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"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.

"steeped in crimson..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter VIII)

Dickens continues to employ the imagery of the color red to foreshadow the looming revolution. The Marquis, who is "steeped in crimson" from the setting sun, foreshadows the revolution and what may become of him.

"the sun and the Marquis..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter VIII)

Perhaps, Dickens’s description of the sunset serves as a symbol of the fall of the French aristocracy—including the Marquis and his fellow noblemen, who are quickly losing their power.

"this good mender of roads, called Jacques..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XV)

As readers learn at the end of Book I, “Jacques” is a code name for instigators of the French Revolution. Here, the mender of roads has relinquished his individual identity for the good of the general public and taken on the name "Jacques."

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

The word "parricide” refers to someone who murders a close family member, especially a parent. The peasant who murdered the Marquis essentially committed parricide by killing "the father of his tenants."

"Yet, human fellowship infused some nourishment..."   (Book the Second: The Golden Thread - Chapter XXII)

Throughout this passage, Dickens describes how despite the killing of Saint Antonine, the peasants develop a camaraderie and unity as they fight for a common cause.

"she may identify them..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter III)

Mr. Lorry assumes that Madame Defarge intends to identify Lucie and her daughter in order to protect them from the violent revolutionaries. However, it is possible that she wishes to evaluate Lucie’s loyalty to the French Republic. It is illegal to mourn the punishment of a prisoner, so Lucie would be judged an enemy of the republic if she appears concerned about her husband.

"in the employ of the aristocratic English government..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter VIII)

Mr. Barsad is an enemy to the republic in two ways: he spies on behalf of the French government and was formerly an English spy (and therefore “the enemy of France and freedom”). He will certainly be executed if Sydney Carton reveals his identity.

"the sense of being oppressed bursting forth like a fire...."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter X)

The “sense of being oppressed” that “burst[s] forth like a fire” suggests revolutionary sentiment. Dr. Manette unknowingly foreshadows the intense resentment and rage that would lead to the French Revolution in 1789, roughly 30 years later.

"He will perish: there is no real hope..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter XI)

Sydney Carton repeats Mr. Lorry’s words with an entirely different meaning. If Dr. Manette cannot convince the tribunal to spare Charles Darnay’s life, then Sydney Carton (who intends to take his place) will die.

"such great things as this..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter XI)

Sydney Carton expects a degree of redemption (and figurative resurrection) from the great sacrifice he plans to make for Lucie and her daughter. His impending sacrifice will involve a dual resurrection: his soul and Charles Darnay’s life.

"sound precaution..."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter XII)

Sydney Carton wants to ensure that the Defarges (and, by extension, the revolutionaries in charge of allowing people to enter and exit through Paris’s checkpoints) know that he and Charles Darnay are identical. Otherwise, Charles Darnay will not be able to escape even after Sydney Carton changes places with him.

"who was not to speak until required, or to offer an opinion until invited...."   (Book the Third: The Track of a Storm - Chapter XIV)

The wood-sawyer’s timidity offers another indication that the revolutionaries do not practice the liberty, equality, or fraternity they claim to fight for. Madame Defarge, obsessed with punishing the Evremondes, has become an especially tyrannical oppressor.

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