A Tale of Two Cities


Significant Quotations

A Tale of Two Cities has several quotations that capture the essence of the novel, which focuses on Revolution, duality, social class, and personal responsibility. 

Quotation One:  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

This quote is found in book one, chapter one, and opens the story.  It is probably the most famous quotation from the novel.  It illuminates the differences between England and France, which are both under aristocracies and are both headed toward Revolutions, but will experience those Revolutions in very different manners.  The quote also highlights the differences between the characters in the novel.  Soon, the reader will be introduced to both Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton, two men who meet the woman they love at roughly the same time.  For Darnay, that meeting leads to marriage, children, and happiness.  For Carton, that meeting leads to an unrequited love and eventual self-sacrifice.  Thus, the quote helps establish the idea of duality, which is fundamental to the novel. 

Quotation Two:  I am a disappointed drudge, sir.  I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me.

This quote is found in book two, chapter four.  It is spoken by Sydney Carton to Charles Darnay as an explanation for why Carton drinks so heavily.  However, while the quotation is Carton’s reason for drinking, it actually gives little...

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Essays About A Tale of Two Cities