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English II Honors
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A Tale of Two Cities Study Question
BOOK THE FIRST
Recalled to Life
Chapter 1 - The Period
1. The first sentence in this novel is one of the most famous first lines in English literature.
How is it and the paragraph that follows an example of parallelism?
2. What does Dickens establish with his list of parallel contrasts?
3. What is Dickens’ apparent opinion of the list of complaints that the Continental
Congress of 1775 sent to Parliament?
4. What allusions does Dickens make to the approaching French Revolution?
5. What is foreshadowed in Dickens’ beginning this novel with a description of the period?
Chapter 2 - The Mail
1. How does Dickens begin his actual story?
2. Briefly identify Mr. Lorry and Jerry. What does the answer “recalled to life” suggest to
the reader about the nature of Mr. Lorry’s business in Dover?
3. What does Dickens achieve by his reference to The Captain and the fear and distrust of
Chapter 3 - The Night Shadows
1. What effect does Dickens achieve with his occasional lapses into first-person narration?
2. Briefly describe the first dream Mr. Lorry has on the Dover mail.
3. Consider the message Mr. Lorry sends with Jerry Cruncher. What is revealed by the
imaginary conversation Lorry keeps repeating in his mind?
Chapter 4 - The Preparation
1. What has Mr. Lorry told Lucie in order to get her to go to Paris with him?
2. What hints are there in this chapter that Mr. Lorry’s secret mission resurrects some
issues from his own past?
3. What are the blank forms for consignment mentioned in this chapter? How do they
contribute to Mr. Lorry’s need for secrecy and his use of the code “Recalled to Life”?
4. How do Dickens’ characters conform to the literary conventions of his day?
Chapter 5 - The Wine-shop
1. What do you think the spilled wine foreshadows in this chapter?
2. What effect does Dickens achieve with personification in this chapter?
3. What does the following passage from this chapter say about the character of Madame
“…one might have predicated that she did not often make mistakes
against herself in any of the reckonings over which she presided.”
4. What information about Lucie’s father’s state of mind is revealed to Mr. Lorry during the
climb up the five flights of stairs to Dr. Manette’s room?
5. What is implied by the way the Defarges call the men “Jacques”?
Chapter 6 - The Shoemaker
1. What makes the faintness of the Shoemaker’s voice so horrible?
2. What is significant about the Shoemaker’s name?
3. What detail finally begins to bring the Shoemaker to his senses?
4. How does Lucie begin to meet stereotypical expectations of an ideal woman?
BOOK THE SECOND
The Golden Thread
Chapter 1 - Five Years Later
1. What is Dickens suggesting with the following: “In this respect the House was much
on a par with the Country; which did very often disinherit its sons for suggesting
improvements in laws and customs that had long been highly objectionable, but were
only the more respectable”?
2. What is implied by Jerry’s anger at his wife’s “flopping,” the mud on his boots and the
rust on his hands?
3. What effect does Dickens achieve by the scene in the Cruncher home?
Chapter 2 - A Sight
1. What is Jerry Cruncher’s opinion of execution by quartering?
2. For what crime is Charles Darnay on trial?
3. When, according to their testimony, did Dr. Manette and Lucie meet Charles Darnay?
4. With what other popular “entertainment” does Jerry compare attending a trial? How do
the two compare?
Chapter 3 - A Disappointment
1. Briefly outline the charges the Attorney General presents against Mr. Darnay.
2. How does Mr. Solicitor-General try to discredit John Barsad’s testimony?
3. How does Mr. Solicitor-General try to discredit Roger Cly’s testimony?
4. In what ways is Miss Manette’s testimony against Mr. Darnay both helpful and damaging
to his case?
5. How does Mr. Carton help Mr. Stryver cast doubt on the testimony of the witness who
was in the Dover mail with Mr. Lorry five years earlier?
6. What is revealed about Mr. Carton’s character by his behavior toward Lucie and Mr.
7. One of the major themes in this novel is the idea that resurrection is possible. How does
this theme apply to Charles Darnay’s acquittal for treason?
Chapter 4 – Congratulatory
1. Briefly describe Mr. Stryver. How does he use Mr. Carton?
2. Why is Carton so rude to Darnay?
3. What does Carton confess to himself after meeting with Darnay?
Chapter 5 - The Jackal
1. What is the secret to Stryver’s success as an attorney?
2. Briefly describe how Carton looks when he is working at Stryver’s desk.
3. What do we learn about Carton’s childhood? What does Carton blame for his miserable
4. What is the significance of people’s calling Carton Stryver’s jackal?
5. What predominant character traits of Carton’s are revealed in this chapter?
Chapter 6 - Hundreds of People
1. Miss Pross’ complaint about “hundred of people” is an example of what figure of
2. Why do the visits of these “hundreds of people” bother her?
3. Who is Solomon?
4. What questions does Mr. Lorry ask Miss Pross concerning the Doctor and his shoe
5. Why is Dr. Manette afraid to remember his past?
6. What is suggested by Sydney Carton’s story about the prisoner’s letter found in the
Tower of London?
7. Comment on Dickens’ use of foreshadowing at the end of this chapter when Lucie,
Carton, and Darnay discuss the crowds in the streets of London.
8. What are the two significant meanings of the title of this chapter?
Chapter 7 - Monseigneur in Town
1. What tone does Dickens achieve at the beginning of this chapter? How does he
2. Who is the Farmer General, and what is his relationship to the Monseigneur?
3. What has passed between Monseigneur and the Marquis?
4. Read the following passage. What do you think the water in the fountain may symbolize
in this story?
“The water of the fountain ran, …so much life in the city ran into
death according to rule, time and tide waited for no man, …all things
ran their course.”
Chapter 8 - Monseigneur in the Country
1. Why is the Marquis annoyed with the Mender of roads?
2. How did the poor woman’s husband die? What does she want from the Marquis?
3. What family connection is suggested at the end of this chapter?
Chapter 9 - The Gorgon’s Head
1. What is the family relationship between Charles Darnay and the Marquis?
2. What evidence is there that Darnay suspects the Marquis contributed to the treason
charges he faced in England?
3. What were the reasons for Darnay’s frequent trips to France that resulted in his charges
4. What important information is alluded to in the following passage?
“I believe that if you were not in disgrace with the Court, and had
not been overshadowed by that cloud for years past, a letter de cachet
would have sent me to some fortress indefinitely.”
“We have done wrong?” repeated the Marquis, with an inquiring
smile, and delicately pointing, first to his nephew, then to himself.
“Our family; our honourable family, whose honour is of so much
account to both of us, in such different ways. Even in my father’s time,
we did a world of wrong, injuring every human creature who came
between us and our pleasure, whatever it was. Why need I speak of my
father’s time, when it is equally yours? Can I separate my father’s twin brother,
joint inheritor, and next successor, from himself?”
“Death has done that!” said the Marquis.
“And has left me,” answered the nephew, “bound to a system that
is frightful to me, responsible for it, but powerless in it; seeking to
execute the last request of my dear mother’s lips, and obey the last
look of my dear mother’s eyes, which implored me to have mercy and
to redress; and tortured by seeking assistance and power in vain.”
5. Why does Darnay plan to abandon the property of his family when he inherits it from
6. In the following passage from the story, to what mystery is Darnay alerted by his uncle’s
“As he bent his head in his most courtly manner, there was a secrecy
in his smiling face, and he conveyed an air of mystery to those words,
which struck the eyes and ears of his nephew forcibly.”
7. What does the redness of the rising sun shining on the outside of the chalet suggest?
8. What does the note attached to the knife tell the reader about the identity of the
Chapter 10 - Two Promises
1. How does Darnay earn his living in England?
2. What are the two promises suggested by the title of this chapter?
3. What promise concerning his past does Darnay make to Dr. Manette?
4. What does Dr. Manette’s reaction to Darnay’s attempt to reveal his true identity suggest?
5. What further evidence is there that Dr. Manette is disturbed by the prospect of a
marriage between his daughter and Charles Darnay
Chapter 11 - A Companion Picture
1. What does the title of this chapter suggest?
2. How does Stryver’s attitude toward marriage differ from Darnay’s?
3. Why does Stryver suggest that Carton consider finding a wife for himself?
Chapter 12 - The Fellow of Delicacy
1. What does Mr. Lorry say to Stryver to discourage him from proposing marriage to
2. How does Mr. Stryver handle the situation when Lorry comes to visit him later that
3. Who is the Fellow of Delicacy suggested in this chapter’s title?
4. Is Mr. Lorry’s role in Stryver’s proposal consistent with his claim that he is nothing more
than a “man of business”?
Chapter 13 - The Fellow of No Delicacy
1. Why does Carton say that he is grateful that Lucie does not love or want to marry him?
2. What secret does Carton ask Lucie to keep as the “last confidence” of his life?
3. What might the promise Carton makes in this chapter foreshadow?
Chapter 14 - The Honest Tradesman
1. What is Jerry Cruncher’s secret occupation that results in mud on his boots and rust on
2. List three examples of mischief in which the crowds following Roger Cly’s funeral
engage after the casket is buried. Why does the mob finally disperse?
3. Why do you think young Jerry wants to be a Resurrection-Man? What does the phrase
“no fi sh for breakfast” suggest about the success or failure of Mr. Cruncher’s nighttime
4. What does the absence of a body in the grave suggest?
5. Who is/was Roger Cly, and where have we met him before?
Chapter 15 – Knitting
1. How do you know that the Mender of roads is a revolutionary? Where does Monsieur
Defarge take the mender of roads?
2. Who is the tall man described by the mender of roads? What is his crime? Why do the
people of the village have hope that he will not be executed?
3. Why is the method of Gaspard’s execution particularly cruel?
4. What do the Jacques mean when they vote to register the Marquis’ château and “all the
5. What does the following metaphor say about Monsieur Defarge’s plans for the Mender
of roads: “Judiciously show a dog his natural prey, if you wish him to bring it down one
Chapter 16 - Still Knitting
1. Why does Madame Defarge register John Barsad as one of the men who is marked for
death in her knitted registry of names?
2. What does Madame Defarge do to alert the other customers that a spy has entered the
wine shop? What does the spy say that upsets Monseiur Defarge?
3. What is the “structure yet unbuilt” mentioned in the following passage? Why do you
think Dickens makes reference to it at the end of this chapter?
“So much was closing in about the women who sat knitting, knitting,
that they their very selves were closing in around a structure yet
unbuilt, where they were to sit knitting, knitting, counting dropping
4. How does the description of the wine shop emphasize the poverty of the residents of
Chapter 17 - One Night
1. What does Dr. Manette mean when he says that for his daughter to have no knowledge
or memory of him would be worse than being dead?
2. Why do you think Lucie checks in on her father while he is sleeping the night before
Chapter 18 - Nine Days
1. What is the subject of Charles Darnay and Doctor Manette’s private conversation on the
morning of Lucie’s wedding?
2. What is suggested by the fact that Dr. Manette begins to make shoes after Lucie’s
3. How does Mr. Lorry decide to ease Dr. Manette out of his relapse?
Chapter 19 - An Opinion
1. What is Mr. Lorry and Miss Pross’ plan once they realize that Dr. Manette is awake on
the tenth morning and no longer making shoes?
2. Mr. Lorry carefully discusses Dr. Manette’s condition with the old man. What three
questions does Mr. Lorry ask Dr. Manette to answer in the course of this discussion?
3. Why does the doctor resist the idea of giving up his shoe making tools?
4. Under what conditions does the doctor agree to the removal of the shoe making tools?
Chapter 20 - A Plea
1. Why does Carton ask Darnay for his friendship?
2. Why does Lucie ask her husband to be especially patient and kind with Sydney Carton?
3. What practical purpose would Charles Dickens have for having Lucie make this
Chapter 21 - Echoing Footsteps
1. Rather than advance the plot significantly, Dickens uses this chapter for what literary
2. What occurs on July 14, 1789?
3. What is suggested about Defarge’s search of 105 North Tower?
4. How was this search foreshadowed earlier in the book?
5. What is the significance of the echoes the Manettes, Darnays, Carton, et al hear from the
corner in Soho? How are Lucie’s and Carton’s reactions to the echoes different?
Chapter 22 - The Sea Still Rises
1. Briefly describe The Vengeance.
2. Who is old Foulon, and why is he marked for death by the Defarges? What happens to
3. How do the killings by the peasants of Saint Antonine impact the lives of the poor and
Chapter 23 - Fire Rises
1. Who is the man in wooden shoes? What does he do?
2. Who is Monsieur Gabelle? How does he escape the people of his village?
3. Why do you think the mender of roads and the other village people decide to light
candles in all of their windows?
Chapter 24 - Drawn to the Loadstone Rock
1. What is the significance of the title of this chapter?
2. Why is Mr. Lorry traveling to France? Who is he taking with him?
3. What naive reasons does Darnay give Mr. Lorry for desiring to return to France?
4. What does Mr. Stryver think of the mysterious Marquis St. Evrémonde?
5. What other reasons does Darnay have, besides Gabelle’s plea, for wanting to return to
BOOK THE THIRD
The Track of a Storm
Chapter 1 - In Secret
1. What is significant about the fact that Darnay is placed under escort as soon as he
arrives in France.
2. What decree is passed by the revolutionary government of France the same day that
Darnay leaves the safety of England to travel to Paris?
3. Why does Defarge refuse to help Darnay by contacting Mr. Lorry at Tellson’s bank?
4. In the prison, why does Darnay compare the aristocrats jailed with him to ghosts?
5. What does it mean to be kept “In secret”?
6. How does Dickens remind the reader of Dr. Manette’s imprisonment that ended at the
beginning of this novel?
Chapter 2 - The Grindstone
1. What effect does Dickens create with the imagery of the people at the grindstone?
2. Why does Dr. Manette think he can help his son-in-law?
3. What is the significance of the metaphor in the following passage?
“…the sun was red on the courtyard. But, the lesser grindstone stood
alone there in the calm morning air, with a red upon it that the sun
had never given, and would never take away.”
4. What scene does the redness of the sun shining on the blood-stained grindstone echo?
Chapter 3 - The Shadow
1. What is “The Shadow” referred to in this chapter title? How is it an example of
2. What evidence is there that Mr. Defarge does not want to mark Lucie and her family for
death but is doing it because of his wife?
3. What compliment does Lucie unwittingly pay Madame Defarge?
4. Why do you think Dickens repeats the message of the shadow’s sinister nature two more
times, once from Lucie and again from Mr. Lorry at the end of the chapter?
5. What does Madame Defarge mean when she says, “It is the daughter of your father who
is my business here.”
6. What is the significance of Madame Defarge identifying Little Lucie as “his daughter”?
Chapter 4 - Calm in Storm
1. What is the significance of the title of this chapter?
2. Why does Dr. Manette believe his past imprisonment “all tended to a good end, …it was
not mere waste and ruin”?
3. What aspect of Doctor Manette’s character is revealed in this chapter?
4. List three of the jokes the people of the time made about the guillotine.
Chapter 5 - The Wood-sawyer
1. Where does Lucie go at three o’clock every afternoon?
2. Who is the “Samson of the firewood guillotine”? What does Lucie do to gain his good
3. What is the Carmagnole, and why is Lucie afraid of it?
Chapter 6 – Triumph
1. How does Dickens show how insensitive the Republic’s prisoners have become to the
carnage all around them?
2. What evidence is presented by the following witnesses in Darnay’s defense?
3. What is the “car of triumph” used to carry Darnay away from the prison? How does he
feel while he is being carried by the mob?
Chapter 7 - A Knock at the Door
1. What is inscribed on the door of Dr. Manette’s house?
2. Now that Charles is released from La Force, why do they not all return immediately to
3. Who comes to arrest Darnay again? Who has denounced him?
Chapter 8 - A Hand at Cards
1. What is the relationship between John Barsad and Miss Pross? How has he harmed her
in the past? Where has Sydney Carton seen him before?
2. List the three “cards” Carton holds which will force Barsad to help him with his plan to
3. How does Jerry Cruncher help convince Barsad to cooperate with Carton?
Chapter 9 - The Game Made
1. What reasons does Jerry Cruncher give to convince Mr. Lorry that it would not be fair of
him to fire Jerry from his Tellson’s job just because he is a grave robber?
2. In what capacity does Barsad agree to help Carton?
3. How is the theme of resurrection emphasized in this chapter? What is being suggested
about Carton’s plan?
4. Who is Darnay’s third denouncer, who was not named in the previous chapter?
Chapter 10 - The Substance of the Shadow
1. What narrative technique does Dickens employ in this chapter?
2. Where has the doctor hidden his journal? How was the reading of this letter
foreshadowed earlier in the novel?
3. Who are the two brothers who employ the Doctor?
4. Why does the woman in the journal count to twelve over and over as part of her
5. What happens to the woman’s brother, father, and younger sister?
6. What is the significance of the title of this chapter?
7. What does the wife of the Marquis want from the doctor?
8. What does the wife of the Marquis fear?
9. How was Ernest Defarge, the wine shop owner, connected to Dr. Manette before his
10. What does the doctor say in this journal that condemns his son-in-law to death?
11. Ironically, who else is condemned by the Doctor’s journal.
Chapter 11 – Dusk
1. What is the significance of the words Carton murmurs against Lucie’s cheek when he
kisses her, “A life you love”?
2. What, most likely, is Carton’s plan to save Darnay? How has this been foreshadowed?
Chapter 12 - Darkness
1. Why does Carton go to the wine shop?
2. What does he learn there about Dr. Manette, Lucie, her child, and Madame Defarge?
3. What final piece of the Defarge / Manette / Evremonde puzzle is finally revealed?
4. Why do the Defarges speak so freely in front of Carton?
Chapter 13 - Fifty-two
1. What is the significance of the title of this chapter?
2. How does John Barsad help Carton with his plan to save Darnay?
3. How does the plight of the seamstress illustrate one of the main flaws of the Revolution?
4. What effect is created by Dickens’ shift to first-person narration?
Chapter 14 - The Knitting Done
1. Why does Madame Defarge visit Lucie before her husband’s execution?
2. Why does Jerry Cruncher change his mind about his wife’s flopping?
3. What theme is suggested by Darnay’s escape and Miss Pross’ being strong enough to
defeat Madame Defarge?
4. What evidence of nationalistic pride does Dickens reveal in this chapter?
Chapter 15 - The Footsteps Die Out for Ever
1. The last words of this chapter are some of the most famous ever written: “It is a far, far
better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far far better rest that I go to than I
have ever known.” In what ways is this statement true for Sydney Carton? Why do you
suppose this has become such a famous last line from a novel?
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