A Tale of Two Cities


Plot Summary

The novel opens in 1775, prior to both the American and French Revolutions, but at a time when the world is really beginning to contemplate the idea of revolution.  Both France’s proximity to England and America’s political relationship with England mean that ideas about revolutions in either location are impacting attitudes in England.  While the novel focuses on the French Revolution, it is important for the reader to keep in mind that America was also experiencing the buildup to a Revolution during this time period.

The novel opens to a major revelation in the life of Lucie Manette.  Lucie has been raised as a ward of Tellson’s bank and with the belief that she is an orphan whose parents are dead.  However, she discovers that her father, Dr. Manette, was not dead, but had been in prison.  The imprisonment was unjust, and Lucie decides to find her father.  Jarvis Lorry, who had managed Lucie’s father’s affairs before he went to prison, accompanies Lucie on a trip to Saint Antoine, where she has been told she can find her father.   Dr. Manette is at the home of Ernest Defarge.  Ernest Defarge was employed by Dr. Manette prior to his incarceration and had been caring for him since his release.

Dr. Manette is extremely dysfunctional when Lucie finds him, and seems to alternate between lucidity and insanity.  However, Lucie is overjoyed to have found her father.  She determines that she will take Dr. Manette home to London and nurse him back to health.  Back in London, Lucie, with Lorry’s help, manages to restore Dr. Manette to health.  Dr. Manette is eventually able to practice again, though he remains prone to occasional fugue state episodes. 

Five years later, Dr. Manette and Lucie find themselves involved in a criminal trial.  They are asked to testify about Charles Darnay.  Lucie and Dr. Manette first saw Darnay when she was bringing her father home on a ship to London.  Darnay helped Lucie care for her father while on the ship,...

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