Tale of Two Cities, an Analysis

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  • Topic: A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Darnay, A Tale of Two Cities characters
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AP European History Reading Assignment 2: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is a critically acclaimed classic novel. This novel has sold over 200 million copies and made its way onto reading lists everywhere. Demonstrating the plight of the French peasantry being demoralized by the aristocracy in the years leading up to the French Revolution through the eyes of both French and English persons, A Tale of Two Cities is a wonderful example of classic literature with exemplary historical setting, plot, characterization, and validity.

A Tale of Two Cities is set in 18th century London and Paris. The novel spans the time period of 1775 through 1793. Dickens begins the book by letting the reader in on what the state of the period was with perhaps one of the most famous passages in literature: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Dickens then goes on to give a less than marvelous description of England. He paints this picture with images or robbery, burglary, shootings, and hangings. He also paints a similar picture of France with images of children being tortured and children for not kneeling to a procession of monks and the murmurs of revolution from the working class and laborers. Throughout the book, both cities are affected by the revolution happening in France. Paris is in turmoil due to the revolutionaries enacting their daring and dangerous plans and London is receiving all of the aristocracy that manages to escape the revolutionaries to seek refuge across the English Channel. Paris becomes a place wrought with the killings of many. Public executions of innocent people take place in Paris. This novel paints a very grim picture of both Paris and London through the latter years of the 18th century.

The plot of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is a rollercoaster through the French Revolution from both sides of the English Channel. Starting in England, the novel introduces Jarvis Lorry and Miss...
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