Tale of Two Cities – Study Guide Questions 2008
Use these over the course of your reading. They are very helpful if you use them!!
Book I: "Recalled to Life"
Book I, Chapter 1: "The Period"
1. What is the chronological setting of this opening chapter? What clues enable us to determine "The Period"?
2. How does Dickens indicate the severity of social conditions in both France and England?
3. Who is the "king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face"?
4. How does Dickens satirize the superstitious nature of the English?
5. What oblique reference does Dickens make to the American Revolution?
6. How in this chapter does Dickens reveal his advocating social reforms, as well as his hatred of social injustice?
7. How does this first chapter involve the first book's title?
Book I, Chapter 2: "The Mail"
1. In this chapter how does Dickens contrast the characters of Mr. Jarvis Lorry and Jerry Cruncher, both employees of Tellson's Bank?
2. On what precise date does this chapter open?
3. Why is the coach-guard suspicious of the lone rider who has demanded to see Mr. Lorry?
4. What is the message that Jerry Cruncher has brought?
5. What is the rider's reaction to Mr. Lorry's reply "recalled to life"?
6. What imagery in this chapter suggests death?
7. Note that the mud, the darkness, and the mist associated with Jerry prepare us for his line-at-work. Come back to this question later and explain Jerry's soliloquized remark "you'd be in a Blazing bad way, if recalling to life was to come into fashion, Jerry."
8. Why has Dickens been so specific about the guard's weapons (p. 9,12)?
Book I, Chapter 3: "The Night Shadows"
1. To what do the symbolism of the rising sun and Lorry's remark "Gracious Creator of day?" point thematically?
2. What particulars are given about Jerry's appearance?
3. What is Mr. Lorry's connection with Tellson's Bank?
4. Why has Lorry undertaken such a journey in such inclement weather?
5. What is the theme of the first two paragraphs of the chapter?
Book I, Chapter 4: "The Preparation"
1. How do Mr. Lorry's dress and age suggest that he is, like the bank which he represents, the very essence of respectability, stability, and tradition?
2. How is Dickens' 1859 infatuation with a young, blonde, blue-eyed actress named Ellen Ternan reflected in this chapter?
3. Why does the brawny, red-haired woman get so angry at Mr. Lorry?
4. Why had Mrs. Manette maintained the fiction for Lucy that her father was dead?
5. How does this chapter elucidate Lorry's enigmatic message to Jerry?
6. What detail in Dickens' portrait of the "wild-looking woman" is at once imposing yet humourous?
Book I, Chapter 5: "The Wine-Shop"
1. Compare the scene of the broken wine cask with that of the Royal George at Dover in the previous chapter. What does "this wine game" FORESHADOW?
2. Why did the wine-seller, Ernest Defarge, admonish Gaspard by placing his hand on the prankster's heart?
3. How are the inhabitants of St. Antoine both literally and figuratively "gaunt scare crows"?
4. How are Ernest and Madame Therese Defarge different from the frenzied rabble in their street?
5. Why does Defarge exhibit Dr. Manette to a chosen few?
6. What is the significance of Madame Defarge's knitting?
7. Why does Defarge feel that Lorry could not understand why he shows the sorry spectacle of Dr. Manette to fellow Jacques?
8. Check the Penguin text's note on the Faubourg Saint Antoine (p. 453): why has Dickens chosen to make this slum area he setting for this chapter and our first glimpse of the novel's "second" city and of French society?
9. Why do Defarge and his friends call each other "Jacques" when his Christian name is "Ernest"?
10. The French King, Louis XVI,...