Reading Pointers for Sharper Insights

As you read, consider the following ideas and motifs that appear throughout A Tale of Two Cities:

  • the symbolic use of darkness and light and isolation and companionship

  • the mockery of justice in both the French and English courts

  • contrasts between worthy and unworthy characters

  • Lucy Manette’s love, bravery, and faithfulness are forces for saving others

  • all life is redeemable if the individual chooses to be redeemed

  • true love must sometimes be sacrificial

  • instances of great heroism, sacrifice, and compassion can be found, even in the midst of humanity’s greatest cruelty

  • people cannot shirk their responsibilities to their loved ones, even at great personal risk

  • justice without mercy leads to tyranny

  1. Dickens presents the lawlessness and cruelty of the French Revolution to warn his fellow English citizens that social change can best be achieved through law, not through anarchy or totalitarianism.

  2. Dickens’ use of parallel events and characters suggests that, in his view, France and England are not that different from one another.

  3. Subtle, but frequent, references to the American Revolution suggest that Dickens supported revolution to achieve social justice, but not needless violence.