Study Guide

A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities Summary

It’s 1775. Trouble is a-brewin’ in the French countryside. Apparently, the folks out there don’t like to be starved and taxed to death. Who'd have guessed it, eh?

As our novel starts, a very businessman-like British gentleman makes his way into the heart of Paris. He’s on a very unsettling mission. In fact, it’s almost enough to make a businessman cry. You see, eighteen years ago, a French doctor was imprisoned without any warning (or any trial). He’s been locked up in the worst prison of all prisons, the Bastille. After almost two decades, he was released—again without any explanation—and he’s currently staying with an old servant of his, Ernst Defarge. Today, Mr. Lorry (he’s our British businessman) is on a mission to take the French doctor back to England, where he can live in peace with his daughter.

Dr. Manette may be free, but he’s still a broken man. He spends most of his time cobbling shoes and pacing up and down in his dark room. Too accustomed to the space of a prison to understand that he can actually leave his room, Dr. Manette seems doomed to live a pitiful life.

Fortunately for Dr. Manette (and for Mr. Lorry, now that we think about it), he happens to have the World’s Most Perfect Daughter. Lucie, the child he left eighteen years ago, has grown up and is a smiling, blond, perfect ray of sunshine. Everything she touches seems to turn to gold. Vomit if you’d like, but Lucie is indeed perfect. And she’ll need every ounce of that perfection to restore her father back to health.

Of course, she does manage to bring Dr. Manette back into the everyday world. We never doubted her for a second. Within the space of five years (that’s 1780, for those of you who are counting), Dr. Manette is a new man. He’s a practicing doctor again; he and Lucie live in a small house in Soho. They don’t have much money (Dr. Manette’s cash was all seized in France), but Lucie manages to shine her rays of wonderfulness over their lives. In other words, they’re pretty happy. And they’ve adopted Mr. Lorry as a sort of drop-in uncle.

As we pick up the story in 1780, Dr. Manette and Lucie have been called as witnesses in a treason case. Apparently, a young man named Charles Darnay is accused of providing classified information to the French government. English trials at the time resembled smoke-and-mirror tricks, and Dickens takes great delight in mocking the "esteemed" members of the court. Thanks to Lucie’s compassionate testimony and some quick work by a man who looks strangely like Charles Darnay, however, our man Darnay is off the hook.

A free man, Darnay immediately realizes just how perfect our perfect Lucie actually is. He sets up shop in the Manette house, coming to visit almost every day. The Darnay look-alike, a disreputable (but, let’s face it, really likable) guy called Sydney Carton, also takes a liking to Lucie. If Darnay is shiny and good and perfect, Carton is…not any of those things. He also likes to beat himself up a lot. (In fact, we’re thinking that he could really use one of those twelve-step esteem-boosting programs.)

Carton loves Lucie with all his heart, but he’s convinced that he could never deserve her. What does he do? Well, he tells her precisely why she could never love him. Surprise, surprise: she agrees. She’d like to help him be a better person, but he would rather wallow in his misery. After all, wallowing sounds like so much fun, doesn’t it? Wallow, wallow, wallow. That’s Carton in a nutshell.

Darnay, meanwhile, fares a little bit better: he marries Lucie. On the day of his wedding, he tells Dr. Manette a secret: he’s actually a French nobleman in disguise. A very particular French nobleman, as a matter of fact: the Marquis Evrémonde. Because everything in a Dickens novel has to fit into a neat pattern, it’s no real surprise that the Evrémondes were the evil brothers who locked Dr. Manette up in the first place. The good doctor is a bit shocked, of course, but he eventually realizes that Darnay is nothing like his father or his uncle (the evil Evrémondes brothers). Dr. Manette is willing to love Darnay for the man he is, not the family he left behind.

Things are going swimmingly in England. Darnay moves in with the Manettes, he makes a decent wage as a tutor, and Dr. Manette seems to be as happy as ever. But wait, wasn’t this a tale of two cities? What happened to the other city?

Okay, you got us. While everything’s coming up roses in London, everything’s coming up dead in Paris. We only wish we were kidding. People are starving, the noblemen run over little children with their carriages, and everyone is pretty unhappy. In fact, they’re so unhappy that they’re beginning to band together as "citizens" of a new republic. Right now, Ernst Defarge and his wife are at the center of a revolutionary group. We can tell that they’re revolutionary because they’re super-secret. And they also call each other "Jacques." That’s "Jack" in French.

In the village of the Evrémondes, the Marquis has been stabbed during the night. Gasp! The government hangs the killer, but tensions don’t ever really settle down. Finally, the steward of the Evrémonde estate sends a desperate letter to the new Marquis: because folks hated the old Marquis so much, they’re now throwing the steward into prison.

A bunch of fluke accidents conspire to make sure that Charles Darnay gets the letter. He’s the Marquis, remember? Even though he’s thrown off his old title and his old lands entirely, he can’t help but feel responsible for the fate of this steward. Without telling his wife or his father-in-law anything about what’s been going on, he secretly sets off for France.

Unfortunately for Darnay, he picked a bad time for a summer vacation. By the time he arrives on the shores of France, the revolutionaries have overturned the country. The King is about to be beheaded. The Queen soon follows suit. Murder and vengeance and mob mentality rule the day. Immediately detained, Darnay soon realizes that he’s made a big, big mistake. By the time he reaches Paris, he’s become a prisoner. New laws dictate that he’s going to be executed by La Guillotine.

Fortunately, Dr. Manette hears about his fate. With Lucie in tow, he rushes to Paris. It turns out that he’s something of a celebrity there: anybody who was falsely arrested under the aristocratic rules of old is now revered as one of the heroes of the new Republic. The doctor shows up at Darnay's trial and wows the judges with his heroic plea to save his son-in-law.

Everything seems happy again. Sure, it’s the middle of the French Revolution, but the Manettes and Darnay are in the clear. Or at least, that’s how it seems for a few hours. All too quickly, however, Darnay is arrested again. This time, the Defarges have accused him of being a member of the nobility and a stain on the country’s name.

Frantic, Dr. Manette tries to intervene. The court case for Darnay’s second trial goes very differently from the first one, though. Ernst Defarge produces a letter, written by Dr. Manette himself, which condemns Darnay to death.

Wait a second! Dr. Manette? Impossible! Well, not exactly. Long ago, Dr. Manette scribbled down the history of his own imprisonment and secreted it in a wall of the Bastille. The history tells a sordid tale of rape and murder—crimes committed by Darnay’s father and brother. Incensed, the jury of French revolutionary "citizens" decides that Darnay should pay for the crimes of his father.

Before he can be executed, however, Sydney Carton comes to the rescue. A few good tricks and a couple of disguises later, Darnay is a free man. He and his family head back to England in (relative) safety. Carton, however, doesn’t fare so well. He takes Darnay’s place in prison and dies on the guillotine.

Crazy, huh? The novel, however, thinks that his sacrifice is pretty heroic. And we have to say, we agree.

  • Book the First: Recalled to Life
    Chapter One – The Period

    • Okay, we know that this is a summary and all, but we just have to quote this opening for you. After all, it’s one of the most well-known opening lines in English literature. Here goes:
    • "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness […]."
    • The sentence goes on for awhile, but you get the general picture. There are lots of opposites at work in the good ol’ eighteenth century.
    • As our narrator points out, these opposites are also rather…similar.
    • Confused? Don’t be. Your friendly Shmoop team is here to help.
    • It’s 1775.
    • This chapter, the greatest of all openings, is a sort of guidebook to the time.
    • If you’re a backpacker, you could think of it as the Lonely Planet for the eighteenth century.
    • We don’t really meet any characters (but don’t you worry, they’ll be here soon enough).
    • What we do get, however, is a breakdown of the important places in the novel: France and England.
    • According to our helpful narrator, things in both countries are going along just as they’ve always gone.
    • In fact, everything is so dang normal that folks are pretty convinced that things will stay the same forever.
    • That’s our first hint that things are going wrong. Anytime anyone says that things are going to stay the same, there’s a good chance that things are going to change. A lot. Anyone who’s seen movies about high school friends going to college and growing apart knows that.
    • To get back to our story, though: our narrator gives us a bird’s-eye view of events in England.
    • America has just flown the coop. People are pretty upset about that.
    • (For those of you who’d like a refresher course on the American Revolution, check out our Shmoop history notes on the subject. We’re sticking to the other side of the pond in this novel.)
    • In France, things aren’t going so well. The economy is in a bit of a free-fall.
    • Protestants are being persecuted (the French royalty, you see, is Catholic).
    • In case you’re thinking that England is a much, much nicer place to be, though, we should warn you: Catholics didn’t fare so well in England, either.
    • Our narrator predicts that trees growing in the fields of France will soon be cut and shaped into scaffolds and guillotines. Lovely.
    • Back in England, lots of crimes occur on a regular basis. Just about everyone gets brutally punished, regardless of whether their crime was severe or trifling.
    • In other words, things may be going along just as always—but that sure doesn’t mean that they’re going along smoothly.
    • That about sums up the state of affairs.
    • Our narrator offers up a foreboding reference to the Woodsman (Fate) and the Farmer (Death) who will be reaping and sowing their harvest very, very soon.
    • Yup. Things are about to get ugly.
  • Volume I, Chapter Two – The Mail

    • Our friendly narrator sets the scene: it’s a Friday night in November. We’re on the Dover road.
    • This should spark some bells for anyone who spent the summer traveling around Europe.
    • Long, long ago, in the years before the Chunnel was built, people who wanted to travel to France took a boat from Dover to Calais.
    • Based on this information, we’re guessing that we’re about to see some traveling going on. It’s just a hunch.
    • Anyhow, we zoom in on a guy who’s supposed to be traveling by mail coach to Dover.
    • A mail coach is a coach that, well, carries mail. And people. It’s drawn by horses.
    • We say that he’s supposed to be in the coach because, at the moment, he’s walking in the mud alongside it.
    • In fact, all of the passengers on the coach are walking beside it. In the mud. And no one’s all that happy about it.
    • The horses, you see, have gotten bogged down in the mud.
    • Since this is long before the time of cars (and long, long before planes or nice, clean trains), the passengers don’t have any choice but to hop out and walk.
    • Besides being muddy, it's cold and foggy and altogether disgusting.
    • The longer we think about it, the less we understand why anybody would want to travel to Dover at all.
    • Finally, the coachman manages to push the horses up to the top of the muddy hill. By the time they climb up it, it’s almost 10:00.
    • All of a sudden, the coachman (we’ll call him Joe, since that's his name) hears horses’ hooves pounding in the distance.
    • A rider is following them!
    • Everyone stops and listens as a horse draws up to the carriage.
    • The rider of the horse asks for Mr. Jarvis Lorry.
    • A small man answers. He seems to think that the rider’s name is Jerry.
    • As it turns out, this is because the rider’s name is Jerry. We’re starting to trust this Mr. Lorry already.
    • Jerry gives Mr. Lorry a letter.
    • All of the other passengers eye Jerry suspiciously. Now that Mr. Lorry’s got a letter from Jerry, they eye him suspiciously, too.
    • Mr. Lorry assures Joe that there’s nothing wrong. He (Mr. Lorry) is from Tellson’s Bank in London.
    • Mentioning the name of Tellson’s seems to do the trick. All of a sudden, everyone trusts Mr. Lorry.
    • He reads the note that Jerry handed to him, and tells Jerry to ride back to London to deliver one message: "Recalled to Life."
    • Sound interesting? Just wait. It is!
    • The coach starts off again (this time with the passengers on the inside).
    • As it travels, Joe remarks to Tom (another passenger) that the message Mr. Lorry gave to Jerry was rather cryptic.
    • Tom agrees. They puzzle over it for the rest of the journey.
  • Volume I, Chapter Three – The Night Shadows

    • Let’s all start with some philosophical reflections, shall we?
    • If you really think about it, do you actually know the people around you? Do you really?
    • If not, where does that leave you? Sad and lonely? Exactly.
    • Our narrator starts out this chapter with some cheerful reflections.
    • You don’t know the people you love. Not really. Hey, we don’t know the people we love. Every man is an island. It’s all very existential.
    • Actually, it’s all very good writing, as well. We totally recommend that you check it out. It’s only about a paragraph long.
    • The synopsis, though, is this: death sucks so badly because it forces us to realize how much we don’t know about the people around us.
    • Meanwhile, Jerry (the deliverer of the message from the last chapter) is sitting in an alehouse, puzzling over the meaning of his latest assignment.
    • He can’t figure out the message that he’s supposed to deliver, at all. Nonetheless, he decides to set off to London to deliver it.
    • Meanwhile, the mail coach rattles its way down the road to Dover.
    • Inside, Mr. Lorry dozes as he thinks. All of the sounds in the mail coach begin to sound like the sounds he knows so well—the sounds of Tellson's bank.
    • Despite the comforting sounds of the bank, however, Mr. Lorry remains uneasy.
    • He’s uneasy because he’s been given a difficult task: he’s about to dig up the dead.
    • Ugh! Wait, isn’t that illegal?
    • Well, yes. But that’s not the sort of digging we’re talking about. We’ll get to that later.
    • For now, though, Mr. Lorry imagines a conversation that he has with the dead.
    • He asks the dead man if he’s been recalled to life; the dead man says that he doesn’t know.
    • He asks the dead man if he’d like to see "her."
    • The man has a different answer for each time Mr. Lorry imagines the conversation. Sometimes he’s very happy, other times he’s almost angry.
    • Playing the conversation out in his head over and over again, Mr. Lorry finally asks the dead man how long he’s been buried.
    • The answer, "eighteen years," terrifies Mr. Lorry.
  • Volume I, Chapter Four – The Preparation

    • Mr. Lorry finally arrives in Dover.
    • He makes sure that there’s a boat that's bound for Calais and leaving the next morning, and then he heads to the inn.
    • As he comes down from his room for dinner, the landlady and the surrounding guests observe him: Mr. Lorry is a nice, neatly-dressed little man of around sixty years.
    • He seems to be completely prim and proper, except for his eyes: they appear to be full of compassion and emotion.
    • As our narrator points out, compassion and emotion aren’t exactly valuable characteristics for a banker to possess.
    • It’s probably safe to assume that Mr. Lorry’s worked hard to hide them well from his colleagues.
    • When Mr. Lorry’s breakfast arrives, he informs the landlady that a young woman will soon be arriving. He thinks that she’ll ask for someone from Tellson’s bank, but she won’t know Mr. Lorry by name.
    • Sure enough, the landlady has heard of Tellson’s. She and Mr. Lorry have a friendly chat about the wonders of that reputable bank.
    • Here’s the synopsis: Tellson’s is very, very reputable. It’s been in London for 150 years.
    • It also has a branch in Paris that’s been around for nearly as long as the one in London.
    • The landlady is suitably impressed.
    • Wandering around the city of Dover, Mr. Lorry spends his day hashing and re-hashing the imaginary conversation he had with the dead man while he traveled.
    • Around supper time, however, he returns to the inn.
    • A young girl arrives just as he does; she’s upstairs when he returns.
    • A bit uneasy, Mr. Lorry pulls at his wig.
    • That doesn’t seem to do much good at all, but apparently it makes him feel better.
    • He goes up to the young girl’s room.
    • By the fire, he sees a slender, young, pretty girl whose eyes are incredibly expressive—and incredibly familiar.
    • In fact, they look just like the eyes of a young child whom he once carried from Calais to Dover eighteen years earlier.
    • Miss Manette (that’s the young girl’s name, by the way) asks Mr. Lorry to be seated.
    • She’s been told that Mr. Lorry has information regarding her late father’s property.
    • He sits and explains that he’s been sent to explain…something.
    • After awkwardly attempting to explain that something for a good while, he finally puts forth a "hypothetical" story.
    • Before he begins, however, he makes it absolutely clear that he is a "man of business." As such, he asks for Miss Manette to listen to a small business matter.
    • Long ago, a "man of business" was the trustee of a French doctor. This doctor had a small child.
    • Ring any bells? It sure does for Miss Manette. She’s turned pale and is listening excitedly.
    • Mr. Lorry hastens to assure her that he feels nothing. He’s a mere machine of the bank.
    • Funny, the longer he talks, the harder it is for us to believe that.
    • Miss Manette recognizes the story as being very, very much like that of her father’s.
    • Mr. Lorry agrees. There’s one difference, however: this doctor is still alive.
    • He urges Miss Manette to think of his story as a mere matter of business, but it doesn’t seem to be working very well.
    • Finally, he tells her that the mother of the young girl died when the child was two, after searching for her father for two years.
    • Her father…well, her father has been found.
    • He’s alive. He may not be much more than alive, but at least they’ve finally found him.
    • Mr. Lorry proposes that he and Miss Manette go together to Paris to find her father.
    • Turning completely ashen, Miss Manette murmurs that she’s going to see a ghost.
    • She seems to have fainted completely away. Mr. Lorry has no idea what to do.
    • Suddenly, a wild-looking red-haired woman rushes into the room.
    • She flies into a fury at Mr. Lorry. How dare he upset her darling in this way?
    • Ordering Mr. Lorry to fetch some smelling salts, she quickly brings Lucie back to consciousness.
    • Mr. Lorry humbly asks if the woman will accompany Lucie to France.
    • She offers a brusque reply: she’s never seen any need to cross the water. For her mistress, however, she’ll do anything.
  • Volume I, Chapter Five – The Wine-Shop

    • We flash to Paris: in front of a wine-shop, a great big ol’ barrel of wine has fallen and broken open.
    • It’s like the entire street won the lottery.
    • Everyone dives into the road, heedless of the dirt or of traffic.
    • They soak up wine with buckets and glasses and their hands and their shirts.
    • Everything quickly becomes bright red.
    • Foreshadowing, anyone? Well, yes. Yes, it is. As our narrator intones, this red will all too soon be replaced by the red of blood flowing in the streets.
    • In Saint Antoine, the district where the store is, everyone’s hands will soon become stained with blood, too.
    • How’s that for a nifty prediction?
    • Once the wine is all sopped up, however, the absolute poverty of the place is recognizable again.
    • People are hungry; shops are barely open; children are thin and undernourished.
    • The owner of the wine-shop, surveying the street, shrugs his shoulders.
    • After all, he didn’t spill the wine. It’s the merchant who’ll have to bear the loss of the casket.
    • Our narrator takes a second to look closely at Defarge.
    • Since he does, we will, too. Defarge is a bull-necked, barrel-chested sort of guy. He’s not exactly the type you’d like to meet in a dark alley.
    • Come to think of it, he’s not the sort of guy that you’d want to oppose at all.
    • Defarge walks into his store, where his wife sits knitting.
    • She’s strong and as steadfast as he seems to be. She sure doesn’t stop knitting, for one thing.
    • She coughs and rolls her eyes.
    • Defarge seems to know what she means. Apparently they have a secret language worked out.
    • He turns and looks at the old man and young woman who have seated themselves in the corner.
    • Any guesses as to who they are?
    • Defarge pretends not to notice them.
    • He starts up a conversation with other customers. Strangely enough, all of their names seem to be Jacques.
    • Either everyone’s mothers got together and decided to make the city identical, or something fishy is going on...
    • After some conversation with the Jacqueses, Defarge tells them that the room they all wanted to see is out back.
    • The three men all troop out to the back of the shop.
    • Turning to the old man (Mr. Lorry, in case you missed it), Defarge offers to lead them up to the doctor’s room.
    • On the way, Mr. Lorry asks if the doctor has changed much.
    • Defarge answers in one word, "Changed!"
    • Apparently he’s not really a man of words. He does hit the walls pretty expressively, though.
    • Mr. Lorry seems to get his meaning. He gets more and more worried as they ascend the staircase in the back of the shop.
    • They go up flights and flights of stairs. It’s dark and dingy and rather awful.
    • Mr. Lorry asks why Defarge has to keep the doctor under lock and key. It seems rather cruel after his imprisonment.
    • Defarge explains that the doctor has become so accustomed to the sound of a key turning in a lock that he can no longer exist without knowing that he’s under lock and key.
    • Convinced that the doctor might harm himself if he’s not kept guarded, Defarge has locked him into his room.
    • As they reach the top of the stairs, they run into Jacques one, two, and three.
    • Apparently the "room" that they were planning to see was also the doctor’s room.
    • Defarge pushes them out of the way as Lucie looks on, astounded.
    • When they enter the room, Mr. Lorry turns to Lucie, his eyes wet.
    • After all, he reminds her, it’s only business.
    • Lucie, scared to meet the man inside, hesitates at the doorframe.
    • Mr. Lorry sees her fear and helps her through the door.
    • In the darkness that blankets the room, they can just barely see the figure of a man: he’s sitting at a very low bench, making shoes.
  • Volume I, Chapter Six – The Shoemaker

    • Defarge greets the white-haired shoemaker; he responds vaguely.
    • The very voice of Dr. Manette seems to have shriveled inside of him.
    • The lesson of this chapter, in case you haven’t guessed, is that prison is a very, very unhappy place.
    • Don’t go there.
    • We’re not kidding. Just look at Dr. Manette.
    • Defarge asks the doctor if he can bear a little more light in the room.
    • The doctor replies that he must bear it if Defarge chooses to open a window.
    • Apparently they’re not so into free will and choice and all that good stuff in prison.
    • We repeat: prison is bad.
    • It’s so bad, in fact, that Dr. Manette seems to think that he never left it.
    • Defarge introduces Mr. Lorry, but Dr. Manette seems to have forgotten him completely.
    • In fact, when he’s asked what his own name is, Dr. Manette replies, "One Hundred and Five, North Tower."
    • After an awkward pause, Mr. Lorry asks if Dr. Manette has been a shoemaker all his life.
    • The doctor replies that he actually learned how to make shoes in prison.
    • Flustered, Mr. Lorry asks if he remembers nothing about a banker from long ago.
    • For a moment, Dr. Manette thinks he remembers something…but it’s too far off, too long ago.
    • Lucie moves slowly forward. She stops in front of his workbench.
    • Startled, he asks who she is. Slowly, he reaches up and touches her golden hair.
    • (Sigh. It’s a tear-jerker, we promise you.)
    • He recognizes the hair…it’s her hair.
    • Slowly, he begins to remember. Lucie puts her arms around him and promises to tell him some other time who her mother and father were.
    • For now, though, she promises to take care of him.
    • France, she declares, is too wicked a country for them to stay in. They’ll return to England, where she can honor the man who is her father properly.
    • Dr. Manette begins to cry.
    • Relieved, Defarge and Mr. Lorry begin to prepare for the journey.
    • As they leave the room, Lucie asks her father if he remembers coming to this place. He doesn’t.
    • In fact, he doesn’t remember anything but being in prison. Everything after that is a blank.
    • As they pass through the gates of Paris, a guardsman asks for the doctor’s traveling papers.
    • Defarge whispers to him as he shows him the papers; the man looks in astonishment at the doctor.
    • Rolling away in the carriage, Mr. Lorry remembers again the conversation he imagined with a dead man. Does the doctor really want to be recalled to life?
  • Book the Second: The Golden Thread
    Volume II, Chapter One – Five Years Later

    • First things first: it’s 1780.
    • That’s five years after the first section (as you might be able to tell from the name of the chapter, "Five Years Later." We just thought we should point it out).
    • Tellson’s Bank is ugly, old, small, dirty, and in all other ways not a nice place to be.
    • The funny thing is that it’s also the most respected bank in England.
    • In fact, all of its partners revel in the fact that it’s small, ugly, old, and dirty. They’re small, ugly, and old themselves. They might even be dirty. We’re just not going to think about it.
    • Dickens spends a good deal of time describing the smallness, ugliness, oldness, etc., of the bank.
    • Why? Well, Dickens’ style tends to focus on the tiny details that construct everyday life in London.
    • Since most of this novel is set in France, he doesn’t have too many opportunities to catalog life in London. He’s making the most of the chances he has.
    • In a typically sneaky Dickensian move, the narrator transitions from talking about Tellson’s to meditating on the state of justice in England.
    • As he says, putting people to death is the answer for everything: murders and petty thieves tend to get the same punishment, regardless of how unjust this seems to be.
    • Come to think of it, our narrator seems to think that the whole system is pretty unjust.
    • We’re introduced to Jerry Cruncher. He’s the odd-jobs man at Tellson’s.
    • When we catch up with him, however, he’s not at Tellson’s.
    • He’s at home.
    • And he’s really, really pissed off.
    • You see, his wife is a religious woman. She’s often on her knees, praying to God.
    • This upsets Jerry.
    • He thinks that his wife is praying against him.
    • In fact, he’s certain that her "flopping" down on her knees is another way for her to undermine his efforts to become a respectable businessman.
    • He beats his wife for a while, and then he lectures his son about the sins of his mother.
    • Asking his son to keep a close eye on Mrs. Cruncher in case she starts to "flop" again, he sits down to eat breakfast.
    • Around nine, he and his son head to Tellson’s.
    • Jerry and Jerry Jr. (that’s his son, by the way) look remarkably alike.
    • We just thought we should mention it. It’s a handy bit of information that just might be useful later.
    • As soon as they get to Tellson’s, someone from the bank calls for a porter.
    • Jerry Jr. gets really excited. It looks like they have a job for the morning.
  • Volume II, Chapter Two – A Sight

    • Jerry Cruncher heads into the bank to figure out what his assignment for the day will be.
    • An old bank clerk sends him to the courts with a note for Mr. Lorry.
    • Apparently, Mr. Lorry just wants Jerry to hang around as a messenger for him at the court.
    • Interested in the prospect of some excitement at the court, Jerry asks the clerk what sort of trial will be held today.
    • It’s a trial for treason.
    • That means that the accused will be drawn and quartered. Jerry’s pretty excited.
    • We interrupt this summary for a quick history announcement:
    • Drawing and quartering is the traditional punishment for high treason in the U.K. Remember the ending of Braveheart? That’s drawing and quartering.
    • For those of you who aren’t Mel Gibson fans, however, we’ll explain a bit.
    • First, convicted traitors were hanged until they were almost dead.
    • Then they were disemboweled.
    • Then they were beheaded. And their bodies were cut into four parts.
    • In other words, it wasn’t all that pleasant.
    • It wasn’t all that much better for women at the time, either. They weren’t beheaded: they were burned at the stake.
    • Back to our story...
    • Mr. Jerry Cruncher is actually pretty excited about the prospect of a high treason case. Chances are that the guy will be hanged—whether or not he’s guilty.
    • Jerry heads to the court. Mr. Lorry’s already there.
    • The court itself is packed to the gills. Apparently everyone loves a treason case as much as Jerry does.
    • Also, everyone loves a good drink. The place reeks of alcohol.
    • Hmm…sounds more like Judge Judy than Law and Order. We’re not really sure if this is supposed to be a court or a circus.
    • In the center of all the hubbub is the prisoner.
    • He’s going to be central to the story, so we’ll spend some time introducing him.
    • He’s about twenty-five. He appears to be a gentleman. Oh, and did we mention that he’s really good-looking? Well, he is.
    • Although he appears to be a little bit shaken to be in the middle of a three-ring circus, Charles Darnay is, in all other respects, a fine, fine man.
    • Of course, that doesn’t stop the rest of the spectators in the court from mentally hanging, drawing, and quartering the guy before he’s even been tried.
    • …everyone, that is, except for a young woman and a distinguished-looking older man.
    • They’re Lucie and her father, in case you were wondering.
    • As it turns out, they happen to be the key witnesses in the case against Darnay.
    • What? Don’t worry, we’ll explain. It just might take us a chapter or two.
  • Volume II, Chapter Three – A Disappointment

    • Dickens cuts right to the heart of the action: Mr. Attorney-General, the head of the state’s case against Charles Darnay, is in the middle of his argument.
    • We know that he’s in the middle of the argument because every sentence in his argument begins with "that." In other words, we’re not exactly hearing him speak. We’re overhearing him speak.
    • It’s a neat little trick on Dickens’ part: he doesn’t want us to agree with Mr. Attorney General, so he uses third-person narration instead of representing his speech.
    • But back to the speech: Mr. Attorney-General thinks that the prisoner (that’s Darnay) has been engaging in a very long and treasonous correspondence with the French.
    • The French? Ack! Gasp!
    • Hey, wait…why does the British government care about the French?
    • Well, the French were actually involved in a nifty little battle on the other side of the Atlantic: the American Revolution.
    • Anybody who carried information from Britain to France probably had their hands in the American Revolution, as well.
    • That’s what the Attorney-General thinks, at least. He’s going to try to hang Darnay.
    • After Mr. Attorney-General gets done talking, his partner, Mr. Solicitor-General, gets up to examine the state’s first witness.
    • John Barsad, a "gentleman," swears that he’s not a spy, and that he makes his own living (although no one seems to know where his money comes from) as an honest man.
    • He also swears that Charles Darnay hired him as an odd-jobs man once when Darnay was traveling by boat to France.
    • Barsad testifies that Darnay carried lists from France to England and from England to France.
    • Of course, he doesn’t really specify what those lists contained—but then, when you’re trying a traitor, you don’t really need that many details, do you?
    • The state calls Mr. Jarvis Lorry to the stand.
    • Mr. Lorry testifies that he traveled to France by boat five years ago.
    • He did see two other people on the boat, but he can’t say that he can identify Darnay as one of the two men.
    • The court calls Miss Manette to the stand.
    • Let’s pause while the entire court checks her out.
    • Sigh…she’s so, so pretty.
    • Apparently, Darnay is checking her out, too. She exchanges sympathetic looks with him.
    • When Lucie begins to testify, it’s obvious that she doesn’t want to say anything that could incriminate Darnay.
    • Lucie says that Darnay helped her father when Dr. Manette fell ill on the boat.
    • Against her will, she also testifies that Darnay exchanged some papers with Frenchmen who were aboard the boat.
    • Apparently, Darnay also made some jokes about George Washington while he and Lucie were chatting.
    • It was all in good fun at the time, but now the court doesn’t take it so lightly.
    • The court, in fact, seems to think that making jokes about how George Washington might not be such a bad guy is, in fact, treason.
    • Lucie’s testimony, in other words, didn’t go all that well for Darnay.
    • Next, it’s Dr. Manette’s turn on the stand.
    • He says that he’s been told he was on a ship traveling from France to England, but he can’t remember anything from that time.
    • Another witness gets called to the stand to affirm that Darnay stayed at a hotel about twelve miles from the coast on the night that he traveled to England.
    • Okay, okay, we know it’s getting technical. Bear with us for a second, though.
    • While the prisoner’s lawyer is cross-examining this witness, a man in the court passes the lawyer a note.
    • All of a sudden, the lawyer has a new course of attack.
    • He asks the witness if he’s ever seen anyone who could be confused with Darnay.
    • Confused, the witness says no.
    • Pointing with a dramatic flourish to the other end of the room, the lawyer says, "Not even that man?"
    • Gasp!
    • Mr. Sydney Carton (the man in the corner) looks exactly like Mr. Darnay.
    • A coincidence, you say?
    • Well, yes. But this is a novel. Anything can happen, folks. Just ride with it.
    • The court case goes on for a while as lawyers try and re-try (and re-try) different theories.
    • Suddenly, however, Carton points out that Lucie is fainting.
    • (How does he notice before anyone else? Well, we’re guessing that he’s been staring. It’s not polite, we know, but for now we’re overlooking it.)
    • By this point, the case is pretty much over.
    • Carton’s appearance has introduced too much doubt into the trial.
    • Darnay is acquitted.
    • Jerry Cruncher is astonished.
    • Unfortunately, he doesn’t have much time to stay astonished. Mr. Lorry sends him back to the bank with the news.
  • Volume II, Chapter Four – Congratulatory

    • As Lucie and her father step out of the courtroom, our narrator takes some time to catch us up on their lives.
    • Dr. Manette is looking worlds better.
    • Our narrator is pretty sure that this is all Lucie’s doing: she's brought him back to life.
    • Everyone congratulates everyone else on Darnay’s release.
    • Mr. Stryver, Darnay’s lawyer, seems to be taking most of the credit for the legal maneuver that saved his life.
    • Of course, that would be forgetting Carton’s role in the affair—which our narrator wouldn’t want us to do.
    • Unsurprisingly, pointing out the similarity between Carton and Darnay was Carton’s own idea. He was the brains behind the operation.
    • Mr. Lorry asks if "a man of business" might now approach Charles Darnay.
    • As we quickly realize, however, anytime Mr. Lorry wants to be a "man of business," it rarely works well.
    • He’s soon congratulating Charles just like everyone else.
    • Carton, who still seems pretty cynical about the justice system (hmm…wonder why?), wants to get out of the general area of the court.
    • He asks Darnay to come out to dinner with him.
    • Aww…a blossoming friendship?
    • Well, not exactly. Darnay can’t seem to break through Carton’s cynicism. And Carton’s already seen how Darnay looks at Lucie.
    • In fact, just because Carton seems to like rubbing salt in his own wounds, he gets Darnay to propose a toast to "Miss Manette!"
    • After sharing a drink or two together, Carton’s pretty sure he doesn’t like Darnay.
    • Darnay sure doesn’t like Carton.
    • Perhaps they might even get into blows over Lucie…until, of course, Darnay realizes that Carton has just saved his life.
    • Before they part, however, Darnay wants to know why Carton seems so angry and depressed.
    • Muttering that he’s a "disappointed drudge," Carton says that he’s been worth nothing all his life.
    • As Darnay leaves, Carton engages in a little bit of existential self-questioning.
    • Why hasn’t he been able to change his own circumstances in life? Why isn’t he ever able to change his ways or become a better human being?
    • Tough questions. And Carton’s got no answers.
  • Volume II, Chapter Five – The Jackal

    • Folks drank a lot in those days.
    • Unsurprisingly, Mr. Stryver drinks a lot. So does Carton.
    • Here’s the difference, though: when Stryver gets drunk, he becomes worthless.
    • Come to think of it, Stryver’s often worthless.
    • Carton, on the other hand, can down a few and still be on top of his game.
    • For reasons that no one can figure out, Carton and Stryver are thick as thieves. They’re BFFs.
    • Okay, they’re not exactly friends: Carton can’t stand the fact that Stryver’s a big jerk.
    • Nonetheless, he spends most of his nights solving Stryver’s cases for him.
    • Stryver, in the meanwhile, gets very, very drunk and mumbles to himself.
    • There’s a good reason why Stryver calls Carton "Memory": he’s the brains behind all of Stryver’s operations.
    • Dickens starts to have some fun with the relationship between Carton and Stryver.
    • Stryver’s sort of like a lion…he’s at the top of the food chain. King of the hill.
    • And if Stryver’s a lion, then Carton is…a jackal.
    • Lions are hunters; jackals are scavengers, scooping up the leftovers after animals like lions bring home the prey.
    • Hmm…does something seem off here?
    • For one thing, Stryver’s the guy who’s getting spoon-fed legal insight from Carton.
    • For another…well, the first one was all we had, actually.
    • But you get the picture. The metaphor doesn’t quite fit. Could Dickens be using a little bit of irony here?
    • Stryver gets pretty happy on his punch and, after a while, he begins to reminisce about his past.
    • And Carton’s past, come to think of it.
    • They’ve been together since school.
    • Back in the old days, Carton used to write Stryver’s term papers. Now he’s writing Stryver’s legal briefs.
    • Some things never change.
    • As Stryver pours himself another drink, he wants Carton to drink to the "pretty witness" who came to court today.
    • Carton gulps for a second, and then he mutters some unpleasant things about Lucie.
    • Okay, they’re not that bad. But he does call her a "golden doll."
    • Stryver’s taken aback. He was sure he caught Carton staring at Lucie for most of the day.
    • Carton insists that Lucie means nothing to him. Nothing. Seriously.
    • Falling back into a drunken stupor, Stryver heads to bed.
    • Left by himself, Carton ponders why his life is so unhappy.
    • He imagines love and happiness for a brief moment, but then his masochism sets back in.
    • He could never win Lucie.
    • Depressed, he settles back in for another drink.
  • Volume II, Chapter Six – Hundreds of People

    • Dr. Manette and Lucie live in a quiet little corner of Soho.
    • Back in the late-1700s, Soho wasn’t the center of London.
    • Nope, it was a nice, quiet spot of country.
    • On Sunday afternoons, Mr. Lorry walks from the center of town out toward Soho.
    • Everything there seems sunny and happy and all-around peachy keen.
    • It’s just like those television shows from the '50s. Happy people, happy places. Happy happy happy.
    • It looks like things have turned around for Dr. Manette.
    • He’s even started to take in a few patients; as it turns out, he was once a nationally renowned doctor.
    • Dr. Manette’s practice is on the ground floor of their home; they live on the second floor.
    • A mysterious man whom nobody has ever seen lives on the third floor. Don’t worry—he’s not important.
    • The Manettes don’t have loads of money, but Lucie has managed to make their home very…homey.
    • Mr. Lorry breathes a sigh of relief as soon as he steps inside the door.
    • Once he’s inside, a wild-looking red-haired woman greets him.
    • She’s Miss Pross.
    • Once upon a time she was Lucie’s landlady/governess, but now she lives with the Manettes.
    • She’s very, very devoted to Lucie.
    • Oh, and she calls Lucie "Ladybird." We wish we could tell you a reason for this, but we really can’t.
    • At the moment, she’s also extremely upset.
    • As she informs Mr. Lorry, ever since he interfered in Ladybird’s life, hundreds of people have been beating down her door.
    • Hundreds? Wasn’t it just one person…and wasn’t he her father?
    • Well, yes. Miss Pross might be exaggerating slightly.
    • There have been more visitors to the house than she would like, however: Charles Darnay, Sydney Carton, and Mr. Stryver have all been making regular appearances at the Manette house.
    • While the two wait for the Manettes to return, Miss Pross tells Mr. Lorry that the doctor has been up at night, pacing back and forth in his room. Only Lucie can calm him down and get him to go to sleep.
    • Eventually the Manettes return. They sit down to dinner with Mr. Lorry.
    • After dinner, Mr. Darnay stops by. Making conversation, he asks Dr. Manette if he’s seen the Tower.
    • A brief Shmoop historical interruption: the Tower of London is probably the tower to which Mr. Darnay is referring. It was the place that the British held political prisoners. In other words, it was sort of the British equivalent of the Bastille, where Dr. Manette was held. By the time that Dickens was writing A Tale of Two Cities (and even by the time that the events in the novel were supposed to have occurred), the Tower wasn’t really much of a prison anymore. Instead, it housed the Crown Jewels, which made it a nifty place to visit. You can still visit it, in fact. 
    • Back to our story, though…
    • Mr. Darnay says that folks were restoring the Tower and happened to find, in the top-most room, a hidden letter buried by a former prisoner.
    • For no apparent reason, Dr. Manette seems violently upset by this news.
    • Well, we have a hunch as to why he’s so upset.
    • During tea-time, Sydney Carton stops by.
    • It begins to rain really heavily, so everyone has to stay at the Manettes' house for a long time.
  • Volume II, Chapter Seven – Monseigneur in Town

    • We’re back in France. Getting whiplash yet? Just wait…
    • Our narrator describes the way that Monseigneur, a member of the French aristocracy, makes his hot chocolate in the morning.
    • Actually, Monseigneur would never dream of making his own chocolate.
    • He has servants to do that for him. Four servants, to be precise.
    • Mocking the excess that this sort of lifestyle needs, our narrator talks about Monseigneur’s life in very broad strokes.
    • Monseigneur remains convinced that the world has been created for Monseigneur and his pleasures.
    • Anything that doesn’t concern Monseigneur’s pleasure is something Monseigneur will never be interested in.
    • Wait, who is this Monseigneur guy, exactly?
    • Well, he’s sort of a conglomerate of all the aristocrats. See, the more we read, the less he seems like a real guy.
    • For one thing, he doesn’t have any other name than Monseigneur.
    • For another, he’s absolutely detestable…and he’s described in such vague terms that he seems to be standing in for an entire class, not a single person.
    • Okay, he is also an individual character, but we don’t learn that until later. For now, just think of him as Aristocrat X.
    • In Monseigneur’s house, everyone dresses exquisitely. Gold and masques and wigs and silk stockings abound.
    • That’s all well and good, but when you compare all that shiny, fancy, expensive stuff with the rags that the poor people wear...well, you get the picture.
    • Also, everyone seems to be pandering to Monseigneur all the time. Doctors, lawyers, government officials, and other forms of "high society" meet in his house to tell him how wonderful he is.
    • Tonight Monseigneur heads to the opera.
    • While he’s there, a man appears.
    • No one seems to like the man very much. He’s cold, with a face "like a fine mask."
    • Even Monseigneur seems to want to ignore him.
    • He leaves the opera and gets into his carriage, where he orders his driver to speed through the streets.
    • The driver is as ruthless as Monsieur le Marquis (that’s the guy). They fly through Paris.
    • Suddenly, however, they come to a lurching halt.
    • The Marquis’ carriage has run over a small child.
    • The father of the child, wild with grief, charges at the carriage.
    • Some people pull him back in time.
    • Monsieur le Marquis looks at him in disgust. He can’t figure out what all the trouble is about.
    • He throws the man a coin to pay for his dead child.
    • One of the men in the crowd comforts the grieving father by saying that, had the child lived, he wouldn’t have had a very good life anyway.
    • Monsieur le Marquis asks the name of this "philosopher."
    • Defarge (the owner of the wine-shop, remember?) tells him his name.
    • As the Marquis’ carriage drives off, he throws Defarge another coin.
    • Defarge throws it back.
    • Furious, the Marquis calls the poor people dogs. He’d run over all of them if he had his choice in the matter.
  • Volume II, Chapter Eight – Monseigneur in the Country

    • The Marquis’ carriage heads out into the country.
    • As he drives, our narrator gives us a description of the land. It’s parched and almost dead.
    • All the crops that can be wrung out of the land have been grown and are slowly dying—like the poor people who farm them.
    • Heading into the village, the carriage pauses.
    • Our narrator takes this time to explain why the village looks so crummy, as well.
    • See, the Marquis has been taxing his villagers within an inch of their lives.
    • They don’t have the money to buy food or care for their children because they’re sending all of their money to the Marquis.
    • In the village, the Marquis pulls aside a man whom he passed on the road.
    • Understandably, the guy’s a bit nervous. The Marquis isn’t exactly known for his generosity around here.
    • The Marquis demands to know what the guy was staring at when the carriage passed him by a few minutes before.
    • Gulping, the man says that he was staring at another man who was riding below the carriage as a stowaway.
    • Angry and astonished, the Marquis demands to know more.
    • The peasant describes the stowaway as a tall, thin, white-faced man.
    • Gabelle, the town tax collector and postmaster, steps forward to take charge of a hunt for the mysterious man.
    • The Marquis’ carriage heads out of town. They’ve almost reached the Marquis’ country estate when a single woman stops them on the road.
    • She’s poor and desperate. Her husband has just died, their farm yields no money, and now her children are starving.
    • She’s not asking for food, however. She’d just like money to build a small tombstone for her husband.
    • See, the woman is about to die, as well—and she’s very upset at the thought that the townspeople won’t be able to bury her beside her husband.
    • Right now there’s nothing to mark his grave. Without a headstone, no one will know where he was buried.
    • Any guesses as to what the Marquis will do?
    • Exactly. He rides away without listening to another word.
    • Just in case you were wondering, this is exhibit B in the case Dickens is building.
    • Case? What case?
    • Well, we’ll call it the "Why the Marquis is a heartless monster" case, for now.
    • Hmm…killing a small child and ignoring the pleas of a desperate woman. Sounds like the Marquis is a monster after all.
    • Luckily for him, he doesn’t care.
    • His carriage pulls up to a magnificent country mansion.
    • As the Marquis gets out, he asks if Monsieur Charles has arrived yet.
    • Hang on a second…don’t we already know a Charles? What’s going on here?
  • Volume II, Chapter Nine – The Gorgon’s Head

    • The chateau of the Marquis is a pretty great place.
    • "Chateau," by the way, is a French word for an estate or manor house of the nobility.
    • This particular chateau seems very stony.
    • It’s got stone walls and stone battlements and stone lions on top of the stone battlements.
    • The Marquis asks if his nephew has arrived. He hasn’t.
    • Asking for his supper to be laid, the Marquis stares out the window for a time.
    • Finally, as he’s coming to supper, the servants announce the arrival of his nephew.
    • And his nephew is...Charles Darnay.
    • We sort of knew that was coming.
    • The two greet each other, but they don’t exactly seem happy to be reunited.
    • Darnay apologizes for being late. He’s been detained by…business.
    • Ever the gentleman, the Marquis accepts his apology.
    • Darnay says that his task carried him into great danger—even possible death.
    • We’re guessing that he’s referring to the trial for treason here.
    • Moreover, he suspects that the Marquis was actually trying to support the accusations against him.
    • Ever the gentleman, the Marquis doesn’t say anything.
    • Darnay suspects that the only reason he wasn’t locked up forever in France is that the Marquis has been out of favor with the court for a while.
    • In other words, his meddling in Darnay’s business probably wouldn’t have worked out the way the Marquis intended.
    • Lamenting that the family name has fallen into such low regard, the Marquis suggests that people hate him because he’s so much better than they are.
    • Darnay doesn’t exactly agree.
    • Declaring that he’s renounced his relationship with the family, Darnay begs his uncle to repair some of the damage that the family has done to those around them.
    • Darnay says that his mother’s dying wish was that the family would right some of the wrongs they’ve caused.
    • The Marquis laughs at this folly.
    • Angry, Darnay declares that he gives up his rights to the family land.
    • He has a life in England now.
    • The Marquis asks if Darnay has ever met a former patriot in England—a doctor with a young daughter.
    • Darnay says he has.
    • As Darnay leaves for the night, the Marquis mutters that he’d like to see him burned in his bed.
    • Silence descends on the house.
    • As the sun rises, terror grips the house.
    • The Marquis has been stabbed in the night.
  • Volume II, Chapter Ten – Two Promises

    • Back in England, Charles Darnay, ex-French aristocrat, is making a decent living as a tutor.
    • What does he teach? French, of course.
    • Everything’s coming up roses for him.
    • Sure, it’s not as lucrative as a decades-old title, but he’s making honest pay for an honest day’s work.
    • Also, he’s madly in love with Lucie.
    • That is what’s top on his mind as he heads over to Soho to the Manettes’ house.
    • The doctor is at home.
    • His life has only continued to improve. He’s working all the time, which makes him pretty happy.
    • He hasn’t relapsed into depression or memory loss in a long time.
    • Darnay walks into the room, and Dr. Manette greets him happily.
    • They haven’t seen each other in a few days: Darnay has been busy working with his students, and the doctor has his patients.
    • The doctor remarks that it’s unfortunate that Lucie isn’t around to greet him, as well.
    • Darnay cuts him short. He knew that Lucie wasn’t in.
    • Sensing that this will be a conversation that he won’t like, Dr. Manette asks Darnay to remember how essential Lucie is to his well-being.
    • Darnay says he understands. He wouldn’t mention her name—but he loves her too much to keep quiet any longer.
    • Dr. Manette already knows this.
    • He asks Darnay if Darnay has said anything about his love to Lucie.
    • Darnay says that he’d never approach Lucie without telling Dr. Manette first. In fact, that’s why he’s here.
    • Aww…what a gentleman, huh?
    • Explaining that he understands how important Lucie is in Dr. Manette’s life, Darnay says that he’ll never do anything that would jeopardize their relationship. In fact, if he married Lucie, he’d want to move in with them.
    • That way, their house would be disrupted as little as possible.
    • Dr. Manette asks if Darnay wants him to say anything to Lucie about this conversation.
    • Darnay immediately refuses.
    • He knows how much Dr. Manette’s opinion matters to Lucie.
    • If he told her to jump, she’d ask "How high?"
    • Okay, that’s not actually in the book.
    • But if he told her to consider Darnay as a husband, she’d marry him—without thinking about whether or not she loved him.
    • Darnay doesn’t want this. He asks Dr. Manette not to say anything.
    • What he does ask, however, is that Dr. Manette agree to tell Lucie of this conversation if she comes to her father to talk about Darnay.
    • In the interests of full disclosure, Darnay also wants to tell Dr. Manette about his past…in France.
    • Dr. Manette seems startled. He immediately shuts Darnay down.
    • He doesn’t want to know about Darnay’s history.
    • Okay, okay: if Lucie and Darnay get married, then Darnay can tell him about his past. But that’s a big if.
    • Darnay leaves, happy with their conversation.
    • A few hours later, Lucie returns from her shopping trip.
    • Miss Pross meets her at the door.
    • She’s frantic. Ever since Darnay left, Dr. Manette has been up in his room, pacing the way that he used to. And he’s been working at making shoes again.
    • He won’t come down. In fact, he doesn’t seem to hear her when she calls.
    • Lucie runs upstairs.
    • Their voices are heard upstairs. Eventually the two come down; she convinces her father to fall asleep.
  • Volume II, Chapter Eleven – A Companion Picture

    • It’s late at night. Sydney Carton is working. Stryver is drinking.
    • He’s so happy about drinking, in fact, that he asks Carton to make another bowl of punch for the two of them.
    • He has news.
    • Stryver, it seems, has decided to marry.
    • Carton knows Stryver pretty well. He asks if the woman has money.
    • Stryver takes Carton to task for being such a cynic. He’s actually fallen in love this time.
    • In fact, Stryver’s a bit worried that Carton won’t like his choice of a bride.
    • Once upon a time, Carton spoke slightingly of the woman whom Stryver has decided to make his bride.
    • Carton starts a little bit. Could Stryver mean….
    • Yes. Stryver means to marry Lucie.
    • Apparently, Stryver’s willing to overlook her poverty.
    • He’s pretty magnanimous about the whole thing. Lucie will benefit a lot from the marriage, he thinks, but he’s willing to take her, anyway.
    • We just want to put our opinion on the record: Stryver’s a pompous fool.
    • Carton thinks so, too.
    • While Stryver tells Carton about his plans, he also tries to dispense some free advice on how he thinks Carton should lead his own life.
    • Perhaps Carton could find someone like…well, Lucie to marry.
    • Lucie?
    • Carton jumps uncomfortably.
    • Stryver continues to offer unwelcome advice about Carton’s love life.
    • Luckily, Carton chooses to ignore him.
  • Volume II, Chapter Twelve – The Fellow of Delicacy

    • Mr. Stryver’s decided to bestow his magnanimous offer on Lucie.
    • We want to vomit just thinking of it.
    • He offers to take her out—twice.
    • Unaccountably, she refuses.
    • Not to worry, though. Stryver’s sure that he’s going to win her over.
    • He’s on his way to Soho to visit Dr. Manette (and to have a little word with Lucie) when he happens to walk by Tellson’s.
    • Since he knows that Mr. Lorry is a good friend of the Manettes, he drops by to share the good news.
    • Mr. Lorry thinks that Mr. Stryver is too loud and too brazen to fit in well at Tellson’s.
    • In fact, the guy sort of sticks out like a sore thumb.
    • Mr. Lorry tries to get Stryver to tone it down a bit, but Stryver doesn’t seem to get the message.
    • Glibly unaware of how arrogant he sounds, Stryver tells Mr. Lorry that he plans to marry Lucie.
    • Mr. Lorry’s upset.
    • He knows exactly what the Manettes think of Stryver.
    • Unsurprisingly, they don’t think too much of him.
    • He gently tries to break this to Stryver.
    • Stryver’s not the brightest kid in class. He keeps telling Mr. Lorry how perfect a suitor he is.
    • After all, he’s a prosperous lawyer. He’s respectable and even well-off.
    • Who wouldn’t love him?
    • In fact, after telling Mr. Lorry all about himself, Stryver’s pretty sure that he should march right over to the Manettes' house and propose.
    • Mr. Lorry disagrees.
    • He’s fairly certain that the whole thing will turn out…well, it won’t be pretty.
    • Stryver can’t understand why this would be the case.
    • After a bit of heated conversation, Mr. Lorry manages to get Stryver to agree to postpone proposing to Lucie right away.
    • He tries to warn Stryver that Lucie might not think that Stryver is the amazing man that Stryver thinks he is.
    • Instead, Mr. Lorry offers to head over to the Manette house to test the waters for Stryver.
    • He’s pretty sure that he knows what the answer will be, but he wants to save Stryver (and Lucie) from the embarrassment of a proposal.
    • Stryver agrees to wait for a day until Mr. Lorry returns.
    • After all, he follows Carton’s lead on everything else. Why wouldn’t he follow Mr. Lorry’s lead on this?
    • That’s what Mr. Lorry’s banking on.
    • He heads over to the Manette house immediately.
    • Mr. Stryver stretches out on the couch in Mr. Lorry’s office and waits for him to return with an answer.
  • Volume II, Chapter Thirteen – The Fellow of No Delicacy

    • Sydney Carton’s not exactly a man with a lot of charm. Any charm he does have, however, he never displays when he goes to visit the Manettes.
    • Today, for some reason, his feet seem to find their way to the Manettes’ house of their own accord.
    • He finds Lucie there alone.
    • When she sees him, she immediately notices that he’s even less well than he usually is.
    • That’s not saying much.
    • She asks Carton what's wrong.
    • He responds that his life is miserable and hopeless.
    • She asks why he can’t change.
    • We know, we know—it’s a useless question. Someone had to ask it, though.
    • Carton doesn’t answer directly. Instead, he begins one of the strangest love scenes in all of Dickens’ novels.
    • We’re not even really sure that it’s a love scene.
    • See, Carton knows that Lucie couldn’t love a man like him.
    • In fact, that’s exactly what he tells her.
    • Dismayed, Lucie doesn’t know what to say.
    • Sure, she feels badly for Carton. She even cares about him. But the saddest thing in this whole deal is that he’s right—and they both know it.
    • True to her good-natured self, though, Lucie asks if there’s anything that she can do to help him without promising to love him.
    • Carton says that if anyone could have reformed him, she could have.
    • It looks like he’s past saving, then.
    • Just like he thought he was.
    • Apparently, Carton just dropped by to unburden himself…sort of like a very, very painful self-help session.
    • Distraught, Lucie asks again if there’s no way that she could be a force for good in his life.
    • Carton seems to have moved past this, however.
    • He begs her to keep this conversation confidential; it’s the last time he’ll ever confide in anyone, and he’d like to remember that it ended well.
    • Seeing that Lucie seems upset, he entreats her not to be troubled by his sorrows.
    • More than anything, he wants her to be happy.
    • In fact, he’s so committed to her happiness that he begs her to remember (once she gets married) that he would give his own life to keep those that she loves safe.
    • Bidding Lucie farewell, Carton rushes out the door.
  • Volume II, Chapter Fourteen – The Honest Tradesman

    • Jerry and his son (also Jerry) are sitting outside Tellson’s Bank late one afternoon.
    • All of a sudden, a small crowd of people pass by the bank.
    • Jerry (the elder) sternly informs his son that what they’re about to see is "a buryin'."
    • In other words, the crowd is a funeral procession.
    • Young Jerry’s pretty psyched about the prospect of a little bit of entertainment.
    • He cheers for the oncoming funeral. His father promptly boxes his ears.
    • A funeral may be exciting, after all, but one should still respect the dead.
    • As it turns out, there’s only one person who’s officially mourning the dead body.
    • The rest of the crowd is just there to cheer that person on.
    • C’mon, there weren’t movies back then. What else were you supposed to do on a long, boring afternoon?
    • As the crowd gets closer, the Crunchers realize that they aren’t exactly cheering the mourner on.
    • In fact, they’re booing the dead guy.
    • They seem to think that the dead guy was a spy. Nobody likes spies.
    • Come to think of it, the crowd hates spies more than most other people.
    • In fact, they hate spies so much that they turn into a mob. The plan, it seems, is to overturn the funeral carriage, take the body out, and derail the parade.
    • Luckily, this plan doesn’t work so well.
    • Instead, the mob decides to become part of the funeral procession. They all load into the carriage (which begins to smell strongly of alcohol) and head off toward the graveyard together.
    • Oh, and did we mention that the dead guy (or the dead spy, if you will) was named Roger Cly? Hmm. We didn’t really mean to rhyme there. We’re just too good.
    • Cruncher and son (aka Jerry and Jerry) stick around after the funeral to chat a bit with the undertaker.
    • When they get back to the bank, it’s closed.
    • Accordingly, they set out toward home.
    • Arriving just in time for tea, the Crunchers meet up with Mrs. Cruncher on the road.
    • Jerry immediately tells his wife that if his business ventures as an "honest tradesman" go wrong tonight, he’ll know it was because she was "flopping" against him.
    • Flopping = praying, remember?
    • Hmm…what do business ventures have to do with funerals? This is all very mysterious.
    • Jerry announces that he’s going out tonight.
    • He’s going fishing.
    • Jerry (the younger) immediately points out that his father’s fishing rod is pretty rusty, which is strange, considering all the times that it’s supposedly used.
    • His father doesn’t answer.
    • Late that night, Young Jerry waits until his father leaves the house.
    • He slips on his boots and follows his father down the road.
    • Jerry Sr. meets with two other men; they head down toward…the graveyard.
    • Jerry Jr. waits breathlessly as the three head into the graveyard.
    • When they’ve gone in, he creeps up to the gate.
    • Watching through a crack in the wall, Young Jerry sees the three men begin to "fish."
    • Funnily enough, though, they’re not using fishing rods.
    • In fact, they’re using spades.
    • And they’re digging up the graves.
    • Astonished, Jerry Jr. jumps up and runs down the road. He doesn’t stop until he reaches his home.
    • In the morning, Jerry Jr. awakens to the sound of his father beating his mother’s head against the table.
    • Lovely. Just lovely.
    • Apparently, something went wrong the night before.
    • Jerry, of course, blames his wife for the failure.
    • As Jerry Cruncher and Young Jerry walk to Tellson’s, Young Jerry asks his father what a "Resurrection-Man" is.
    • Startled, the older man stops abruptly in the middle of the street.
    • After thinking for a minute, he tells his son that a resurrection man is a tradesman.
    • Young Jerry ponders over this information for a while.
    • Finally, he declares that he’d like to be a tradesman when he grows up.
    • Relieved, Jerry says that with hard work and a bit of luck, Young Jerry might just turn out to be a decent adult, after all.
  • Volume II, Chapter Fifteen – Knitting

    • Folks are coming into the Defarges’ wine-shop as early as six in the morning today.
    • Our narrator reflects that it can’t be because of the wine (which is watered down and sour).
    • There must be something else going on.
    • In fact, there is. Monsieur Defarge walks into his shop, where everyone is drinking quietly.
    • Once he greets his customers, however, the entire shop erupts into conversations.
    • Defarge saunters over to a table where a man from the country sits silently.
    • Pulling his wife over to the table, he announces that the man is a mender of roads from the country.
    • Defarge calls the man "Jacques." We all know what that means.
    • Soon the man is headed out toward the back of the shop, ostensibly to visit an apartment that the Defarges can lease to him.
    • Once he’s outside, Defarge calls the other three Jacques. They all follow the mender of roads into the garret where Dr. Manette stayed when he was in Paris.
    • Nervous, the mender of roads asks Defarge where he should begin his tale.
    • Defarge tells him to start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start.
    • The mender of roads tells the assembled men that, a year ago, he was working on the road when he saw the Marquis’ carriage pass by.
    • That wasn’t too unusual. What was unusual, however, was that a man was hanging off of the bottom of the carriage.
    • Later, the Marquis asked the mender of roads what the man looked like. The mender recounts that he answered truthfully, saying that the man was tall as a ghost.
    • The Jacques group scoffs at the honesty of the mender of roads.
    • They would have lied to the Marquis.
    • Enough interruptions already. Back to the mender’s story:
    • Later the next day, the mender of roads was working on roads again.
    • (His title’s pretty descriptive, huh?)
    • While he was working, he saw the same stowaway.
    • This time, however, the tall man was a prisoner. Six guards hauled him down the road in chains.
    • Describing the way that the soldiers tortured the prisoner, the mender of roads finally says that the prisoner was sent to the jail.
    • He didn’t remain there long, though.
    • Before the mender of roads continues with the story of the prisoner, he spends some time discussing the way that rumors about the prisoner’s fate circulated through the village.
    • Execution? An official stay of execution? Life imprisonment? No one knew what his fate was going to be.
    • After a few days, the prisoner was dragged into the village.
    • The guards hanged him at midday.
    • The gallows was erected over the town well. Because official orders insisted that the body remain where it was hanged, the town well is now polluted.
    • Telling his tale, the mender of roads seems to get disgusted and angered all over again.
    • He erupts in a violent declaration of anger at the injustice of this hanging and the injustice of polluting the well.
    • Defarge pauses for a second, then asks the multiple Jacques what they think.
    • They agree that the perpetrators of this crime should be "registered" in their records as people who should be destroyed.
    • Jacques Two pauses to ask if anyone will ever be able to steal the group’s register.
    • Defarge scoffs. Madame Defarge keeps the register in her knitting.
    • No one could decipher it, even if they knew what it was supposed to be.
    • Defarge announces that the mender of roads plans to stay in Paris for a few days.
    • Apparently he wants to see the King and Queen.
    • The rest of the group is aghast. The mender of roads is a fan of royalty? How can he be trusted?
    • Defarge calms the group down. Give the man a little taste of the way the royals behave, he reminds the Jacques group, and he’ll be a fierce soldier against them in the future.
    • The next day, the mender of roads and the Defarges head over to the royal procession.
    • The mender cheers wildly as the King and Queen pass.
    • Defarge mutters in Madame Defarge’s ear that this man is exactly the sort of peasant they need around.
    • He’ll convince the King and Queen that their reign will last forever.
    • That way, they’ll be all the more surprised when revolution comes.
  • Volume II, Chapter Sixteen – Still Knitting

    • Madame Defarge and her husband return to their shop after the procession.
    • Meanwhile, the mender of roads makes his way back into the country.
    • The country folk seem to have changed as a result of the hanging in the village. Their faces are harder; their eyes have become full of vengeance.
    • Sounds to us like a storm's a-brewin'.
    • Okay, but let’s head back to Paris for now, shall we?
    • Madame Defarge is quizzing her husband about the news that he’s just heard from a Jacques who’s on the police force.
    • Apparently, the police have hired a new spy to ferret out revolutionaries (or Jacqueses, as we like to call them).
    • This new spy is English. His name is Barsad.
    • Madame Defarge says that he’ll need to be registered in her knitting.
    • Defarge describes the guy’s physical appearance.
    • Nodding, Madame Defarge takes it all down. She’s pretty pleased at her husband’s ability to get such good information.
    • As the two enter the empty wine-shop, Madame Defarge asks her husband why he seems so down and out.
    • Defarge sighs, then says that change seems to take such a long time. Too long, perhaps.
    • Madame Defarge stares at him sternly. Then she begins to lecture him.
    • In case we haven’t mentioned it, she’s something of a force of nature.
    • She manages to slap him back into shape pretty quickly.
    • Okay, she doesn’t actually slap him. But she does point out that he’s being feeble and just a bit cowardly.
    • Sure, revolution takes a long time to prepare. But they’ll have helped bring it about—even if they’re not alive to see its effects.
    • The next morning, Madame Defarge sits at her seat.
    • She’s knitting. Of course. Beside her knitting lies a rose.
    • A man walks into the shop.
    • Madame Defarge picks up the rose and slides it into her cap.
    • As if someone’s issued a secret sign, the shop falls silent.
    • People slink out the back exits as the new customer comes up to the counter.
    • A secret sign? Really? Wonder what it could be….
    • Madame Defarge makes polite conversation with the newcomer.
    • The guy’s eyes dart everywhere, but he can’t seem to come up with anything out of the ordinary.
    • Madame Defarge thinks to herself that the man should stay around another minute longer.
    • That way, she’ll be able to knit his entire name, John Barsad, into her register.
    • Defarge walks in. He glances at his wife, then greets the new customer.
    • The new man hails him cheerfully as "Jacques."
    • Defarge looks confused. His name is Ernest, not Jacques. He would thank the visitor to use his name. It’s more than enough for him.
    • The spy (he’s a spy, in case you haven’t figured it out) is getting more and more confused.
    • He tries to draw both the Defarges into conversation about the woes of the people, but they say that they spend all their time running the wine-shop.
    • There’s just no time to pay attention to the populace and its discontents.
    • The spy does manage to get one good blow in, though. He mentions Dr. Manette.
    • Defarge immediately jumps a little bit.
    • Madame Defarge quickly says that they never see nor hear from the doctor.
    • Smiling, the spy says he knows. In fact, the doctor is in England.
    • Interestingly, his daughter is about to marry a man whose original name is…well, not Darnay.
    • In fact, he’s taken his mother’s name. In French, it would be D’Aulnais.
    • Defarge gasps.
    • His wife knits ferociously.
    • When the spy asks if anything is the matter, she says that it would be better for the daughter of Dr. Manette if her husband-to-be never returned to France.
    • The spy leaves.
    • Silence descends on the house.
    • Defarge hesitates, then asks Madame Defarge if it wouldn’t be a horrible thing that the son-in-law of Dr. Manette were registered alongside the spy.
    • Apparently, she doesn’t think it would be a bad thing at all.
    • Saddened, Defarge leaves. As he goes upstairs, he thinks about what a "frightfully" grand woman his wife is.
  • Volume II, Chapter Seventeen – One Night

    • London. The night before Lucie’s wedding.
    • Lucie sits by her father’s side underneath a tree in their yard.
    • She’s very, very happy. She worries, however, that her father will be made unhappy by her upcoming marriage.
    • Asking to be reassured that nothing will be changed by her marriage, she begs her father to tell her if he will be at all unhappy in the future.
    • Dr. Manette assures Lucie that he will be happier if she’s fully happy.
    • After all, he realizes that she’s devoted herself to him. He wouldn’t want her life to be spent completely in tending for an old man.
    • As he sits looking at the moon, Dr. Manette remembers the times that the moon was the only thing he could see from his prison window.
    • He tells Lucie that he used to look at the moon and dream of the child whom he’d abandoned when he was sent to prison.
    • Imagining that she’d forgotten him completely, the doctor used to think that the child would grow up without any thought of him troubling her mind.
    • Lucie interrupts him. She’s troubled by the thought that he could imagine her to be uncaring.
    • Dr. Manette gently stops her.
    • At other times, he explains, he would imagine his daughter leading him out of his prison cell into the world.
    • This vision, he insisted, was a specter.
    • Lucie struggles to understand all of this.
    • Continuing, the doctor says that, at other times, he imagined his child with a full and happy life—one that he came into when he left prison.
    • That, Lucie recognizes, was his dream of her.
    • The next day, Lucie will get married.
    • No one is invited to the ceremony but Mr. Lorry. Miss Pross will be there, as well.
    • That night, Miss Pross, Lucie, and the doctor have a cheerful supper together.
    • After the doctor goes to bed, Lucie creeps into his room to check on him.
    • He’s sleeping soundly.
    • Relieved, she goes to sleep herself.
  • Volume II, Chapter Eighteen – Nine Days

    • It’s the day of the wedding.
    • Everyone is ready to head to the church.
    • Mr. Lorry and Miss Pross chat amicably together. By now, they’re actually pretty good friends.
    • Darnay is in the doctor’s room, having a last-minute discussion before the wedding.
    • Suddenly, the doctor emerges from his room. He’s white as a sheet.
    • Nothing else seems to be the matter, however. He doesn’t say anything.
    • Lucie takes his arm. Together, they head to the church.
    • After the wedding, Lucie and Darnay leave for their honeymoon. Dr. Manette helps Lucie into the carriage, and then the three older people walk back to the Manettes’ house.
    • Mr. Lorry glances worriedly at the doctor. The old scared look has returned to his face.
    • Advising Miss Pross to leave the doctor in peace for the time being, Mr. Lorry decides that he’ll return later in the night to check on the doctor.
    • Sure enough, when he comes back later that evening, Dr. Manette is holed up in his room, working furiously at making shoes.
    • When Mr. Lorry tries to call out to him, the doctor doesn’t even recognize his old friend.
    • Miss Pross and Mr. Lorry hold a hurried conference.
    • They don’t want to disturb Lucie on her honeymoon, so they send her a letter supposedly written by her father.
    • They also agree to keep a constant watch on the doctor for a few days.
    • Maybe he’ll snap out of it.
    • On the first night, however, that doesn’t happen.
    • Dr. Manette takes food when it’s given to him, but otherwise he just works at his bench.
    • He doesn’t recognize anyone.
    • The same thing happens the next day.
    • And the next.
    • Mr. Lorry and Miss Pross try to talk to the doctor. He listens…but he never replies.
    • After nine days, the doctor hasn’t shaken out of his relapse.
    • If anything, he’s gotten more and more skillful at making shoes.
    • With growing terror, Mr. Lorry watches his old friend regress further and further into his prison-identity.
  • Volume II, Chapter Nineteen – An Opinion

    • It’s the tenth day after Lucie’s wedding.
    • Mr. Lorry enters the doctor’s bedroom and finds the doctor sitting by his window, reading.
    • He’s a bit pale, sure, but otherwise he seems to be completely back to normal.
    • The change is so drastic, in fact, that Mr. Lorry begins to doubt his own eyes.
    • When Miss Pross arrives, she’s equally astonished.
    • Dr. Manette seems to have healed himself completely overnight.
    • Because the doctor doesn’t make any reference to his scary relapse, Miss Pross and Mr. Lorry decide not to mention it immediately, either.
    • They all head down to breakfast.
    • While they’re sitting down, Mr. Lorry tells Dr. Manette that he needs an expert’s opinion for a hypothetical case.
    • We all know how much Mr. Lorry loves "hypothetical" cases.
    • Asking the doctor how good friends should deal with the case of a man who relapsed for nine days, Mr. Lorry tries to gauge how much the doctor actually remembers of his relapse.
    • As it turns out, the doctor doesn’t remember anything.
    • He quickly catches on to Mr. Lorry’s ruse; finally, he asks if the daughter of this hypothetical man has been told of his illness.
    • When Mr. Lorry says that the daughter hasn’t been told of her father’s condition, Dr. Manette breathes a huge sigh of relief.
    • Actually, he says, the man probably has been expecting a relapse of this sort for some time.
    • Puzzled, Mr. Lorry asks why.
    • Dr. Manette pauses for a bit before replying.
    • He finally says that the man had probably been anticipating some information from someone he knew well.
    • Actually, anticipating is too nice a word. He’d been dreading the information.
    • When it finally came, his mind crumbled entirely.
    • Surprised, Mr. Lorry asks what the information was.
    • The doctor, of course, can’t say. After all, it’s a hypothetical case.
    • He does reassure Mr. Lorry that another relapse seems highly unlikely.
    • After all, there are no more big shocks in store. Thank goodness.
    • Now comes the tricky part: Mr. Lorry and Miss Pross have come up with a plan.
    • They’re pretty sure that the doctor won’t like it at all.
    • Nevertheless, they decide to give it a go.
    • Mr. Lorry gently tells the doctor that the case they’d been discussing also involved some tools: the man who relapsed began working again at shoemaking.
    • The doctor seems more disturbed than before.
    • Mr. Lorry asks if it wouldn’t be best for the friends of the man to take the shoemaking bench away.
    • After all, couldn’t the very presence of the bench in the man’s room help to incite another relapse?
    • Pained by this thought, the doctor explains that the bench was once the only thing that kept him sane.
    • He worked with his hands (making shoes) so that he wouldn’t go crazy while he was in prison.
    • In some ways, then, the bench symbolizes his strength, not his weakness.
    • Mr. Lorry understands this, but he still presses the doctor to get rid of the bench.
    • Finally, the doctor agrees that if the bench could be taken away while the man was out of the house, it might be okay.
    • Accordingly, a few days later the doctor heads out to the country to meet up with Darnay and Lucie.
    • As soon as he leaves, Miss Pross and Mr. Lorry dismantle his workbench and bury the tools in the yard.
  • Volume II, Chapter Twenty – A Plea

    • The first person to visit Lucie and Darnay after they get married is Sydney Carton.
    • Are you really surprised?
    • Darnay is. He’s even more surprised when Carton makes a rather strange request: he wants to be Darnay’s friend.
    • There’s not exactly a ton of love lost between the two men, remember?
    • Nonetheless, Carton wants to be pals.
    • More specifically, he wants to be able to pop over to their house without any warning, just like an old family friend would.
    • Darnay doesn’t seem especially inclined to agree, but Carton reminds him of how Carton saved his life in court.
    • Okay, he’s got Darnay there.
    • Darnay agrees to be friends.
    • That doesn’t mean, however, that he has to like it.
    • Later in the day, he grumbles to Lucie about Carton’s strange request.
    • Astonishingly, Lucie gets a bit angry at him for saying mean things about Carton.
    • She tells Darnay to remember that they’re very, very happy together—and that Carton is very, very unhappy.
    • As she says, it’s hard for happy people to judge unhappy people. It just doesn’t seem fair.
    • Darnay seems pretty wowed by the wonderfulness of his wife.
    • The two newlyweds agree to always be kind to poor old Carton.
    • Lucie kisses Darnay and thanks him for his kindness.
    • Darnay kisses Lucie and blesses her for her compassion.
    • Life, in other words, is pretty perfect.
  • Volume II, Chapter Twenty-One – Echoing Footsteps

    • The years pass.
    • Lucie has a baby girl. She’s also named Lucie.
    • She also has a small baby boy who dies when he’s just a few years old.
    • Surprisingly, Sydney Carton has become a much-loved uncle to the children.
    • His footsteps continually sound on the Manettes’ doorstep.
    • Even more frequently, they’re heard pacing in the streets and alleys around the Manettes’ house.
    • Get it? Footsteps? It’s just like the title of the chapter.
    • When Lucie’s son dies, his last words are about Carton. He asks his mother and sister to give Carton a kiss for him.
    • Mr. Stryver, our least favorite lawyer, has gotten richer and fatter as the years have passed.
    • He marries a rich, pudgy wife. They have three chubby, annoying children.
    • Okay, so Dickens isn’t so nice about people’s weight. Nonetheless, the Stryvers aren’t that great.
    • Stryver, in his extreme beneficence, wants Darnay to tutor his kids.
    • Unsurprisingly, Darnay declines to do so.
    • Stryver’s a bit peeved. He contents himself, however, with telling his wife stories about how Lucie once was desperate to marry him.
    • Ah, memory can play funny tricks on us, eh?
    • Throughout this whole time, Lucie’s been the angel in the Manette house. (See Lucie’s "Character Analysis" for more on this.)
    • She manages to be everywhere all the time and helps everybody all the time.
    • It’s pretty amazing, actually. Maybe even impossible.
    • By the time little Lucie gets to be six, things in the Manette house have adjusted into smooth, well-ordered happiness.
    • Things in France, however, aren’t going so swimmingly.
    • The footsteps that sound in Saint Antoine are fast and furious.
    • They race through the night, gathering weapons and spreading news.
    • The Defarges' wine-shop remains the center of all the revolutionary activity.
    • As all the Jacqueses get ready to go to war, Madame Defarge rallies the women.
    • Together, they storm the Bastille.
    • The Bastille, you remember, is the prison where the French government kept its political prisoners.
    • It’s also the place where Dr. Manette spent a good bit of his life.
    • On July 14, 1789, the revolutionaries take over the fortress. (FYI: this actually happened. Head to our "Setting" page for more information.)
    • Our narrator goes a little crazy describing the sights, sounds, and noises of the attack on the Bastille.
    • Cannons boom, women shriek, and blood runs everywhere.
    • Soon, the revolutionaries are running through the halls of the Bastille, crying out for the prisoners and the records that the Bastille still stores.
    • Defarge grabs a man in the prison and demands to be shown to the North Tower.
    • Why is he so insistent? Well, for one thing, Dr. Manette was a prisoner in the North Tower.
    • Taking Jacques Three along with him, he heads up the stairs to cell One Hundred and Five.
    • Once in the cell, he asks Jacques Three to run a torch along the wall.
    • Sure enough, he eventually finds the initials "A.M." etched in the wall.
    • A.M. stands for Alexandre Manette.
    • That’s Dr. Manette to us.
    • Defarge suddenly orders the men with him to rip apart the room.
    • He’s looking for something….
    • Eventually, he orders the men to set all the fragments of furniture on fire.
    • Delighted to have more to destroy, they immediately follow orders.
    • Outside, the crowd has captured the governor who defended the Bastille.
    • They’re supposed to wait for Defarge to emerge so they can march the governor back to the wine-shop.
    • As the guy passes through the crowd, however, he gets beaten and knifed.
    • Soon he falls over, dead of his wounds.
    • Madame Defarge, shouting triumphantly, steps on him and cuts off his head.
    • Looks like he’s not going back to the wine-shop, after all.
    • The mobs from Saint Antoine decide to behead some guards and hoist their heads onto pikes.
    • So that’s exactly what they do.
    • Seven prisoners were released; seven other men’s heads stand on pikes.
    • Fair’s fair, right?
  • Volume II, Chapter Twenty-Two – The Sea Still Rises

    • A week after the Storming of the Bastille, Madame Defarge sits at the counter of her shop.
    • Another woman, the short, plump wife of the grocer, sits with her.
    • In the past week, this woman has taken on a new name: she’s now called "The Vengeance." We’re guessing it’s not because she’s all that friendly.
    • Defarge enters the shop.
    • Immediately, everyone quiets down to hear what he has to say.
    • Luckily, he actually does have something to say: Foulon, an old aristocrat who once told the peasants that they could eat grass, has been imprisoned.
    • He’s on his way to Paris now, escorted by a revolutionary guard.
    • Defarge pauses, then asks if the "patriots" are ready for action.
    • Madame Defarge grabs her knife. The Vengeance begins to shriek.
    • They run to different houses in the area with the news.
    • Soon an entire crowd has gathered outside the house where Foulon has been taken.
    • Madame Defarge rushes into the house to see the old man bound up in ropes.
    • She begins to clap as if she’s just seen a great play.
    • Defarge rushes up to Foulon and "folds him in a deadly embrace."
    • We’re guessing that means he kills the guy.
    • Madame Defarge tries to strangle him with his ropes.
    • The Vengeance and Jacques Three drag the body out into the streets.
    • Hoards of people scream at the sight. They begin to stuff the dead man’s pockets with grass.
    • Poetic justice, eh?
    • Once his head and heart are set on pikes, however, the crowd begins to disperse.
    • After all, they’re still poor and miserable.
    • They all head to the bread lines to beg for some loaves of bread.
    • As Monsieur Defarge returns to his wine-shop, he remarks to his wife that the revolution seems to have come at last.
  • Volume II, Chapter Twenty-Three – Fire Rises

    • We’re back in the French countryside.
    • It’s just about as dismal as when we left it: there’s no food, the crops are withered, and the people are in about the same condition as the crops.
    • Despite this, things seem to have changed somehow.
    • For years, Monseigneur (as a class) has squeezed and starved the poor of the village.
    • Now, however, the faces of the poor have a new look. It’s one that Monseigneur can’t quite figure out.
    • Our old friend, the mender of roads, is out mending roads.
    • After all, what else would he be doing?
    • A man walks up to him, greets him as Jacques, and the two sit down to eat together.
    • The mender of roads asks if it’s happening tonight.
    • What? What’s happening?
    • Just wait…we’ll find out soon enough.
    • The traveler wants to take a nap. He asks the mender of roads to wake him at sunset.
    • It’s now sunset. The mender of roads wakes the traveler.
    • Hey, we told you it was going to happen.
    • They shake hands. The traveler asks a cryptic question: is it two leagues away?
    • The answer is yes.
    • Later that night, the chateau on the hill begins to burn.
    • Vast clouds of smoke and flames can be seen from the town.
    • Monsieur Gabelle, the guy who’s in charge of the town, awakens to find a rider at his door.
    • Frantic, the rider asks Monsieur Gabelle to send village folks up to the chateau.
    • Everyone in the village looks at each other. Amazingly enough, no one wants to help put out the fire.
    • The chateau burns.
    • After the blaze dies down a little bit, folks start to remember that the Marquis wasn’t the only aristocrat in town.
    • Gabelle was the one who collected the Marquis’ taxes.
    • Okay, so he’s not really an aristocrat. But he’s close enough, isn’t he?
    • That seems to be the general consensus.
    • People start to beat down Gabelle’s door.
    • He takes the advice of his friends and puts a heavy bolt on the door.
    • As night descends, we leave Gabelle praying that he won’t get strung up on a pike.
  • Volume II, Chapter Twenty-Four – Drawn to the Lodestone Rock

    • It’s August, 1792.
    • Monseigneur, that amazing man who stands in for all French aristocrats, has decided that France is not the safest place to be hanging out.
    • He’s now fleeing across the ocean, headed for countries that are a bit more friendly than his own.
    • But we’re not concerned with Monseigneur right now. We’re back in London.
    • At Tellson’s, to be specific.
    • Tellson’s, in case you were wondering, is as dark and dingy and cramped as it ever was. That’s just the way that Mr. Lorry likes it.
    • At the moment, Darnay is trying to talk Mr. Lorry out of going to France on business.
    • It’s too dangerous in France at the moment—especially for an elderly man.
    • Mr. Lorry agrees, but business is business. Tellson’s has many French customers, and someone has to look after their property, even during times of strife.
    • As it turns out, Mr. Lorry happens to be one of the youngest members of Tellson’s.
    • If anyone could brave war and revolution, it’d be him. That’s what he thinks, at any rate.
    • Darnay remains unconvinced.
    • Mr. Lorry assures him that he’ll bring Jerry Cruncher along as a bodyguard.
    • Between the two of them, they should be able to stop any mischief that people might intend toward the bank or the bank’s property.
    • Darnay and Mr. Lorry stand in a corner of the bank talking together.
    • Gradually, another conversation in the bank catches their attention.
    • Our good old friend, Mr. Stryver, has brought a letter to the bank. It’s addressed to a Marquis St. Evrémonde, care of Tellson’s Bank.
    • Our narrator quickly informs us that Dr. Manette made Darnay promise never to reveal his real identity.
    • Perhaps that’s why Darnay starts when he sees the letter—but he doesn’t say a word.
    • Luckily, Stryver has more than enough words for the entire office.
    • He explains that the new Marquis is a craven coward. He abandoned his lands before the old Marquis died.
    • Darnay steps into the conversation and says that he knows the Marquis. He can deliver the letter.
    • Puzzled, Mr. Lorry hands it to him.
    • Darnay quickly leaves. As he walks out, he opens the letter.
    • It’s from Monsieur Gabelle, the steward of his uncle’s lands.
    • Gabelle has been taken prisoner merely because he did what the Marquis ordered him to do.
    • Now he begs the new Marquis (Darnay) to come back and take responsibility for his own lands.
    • Darnay puts down the letter and begins some serious thinking.
    • Sure, he once believed that it would be better for him to abandon his inheritance entirely.
    • Starting life over in England was a bit hard, but at least he wasn’t the cause of other people’s pain.
    • Now, however, he sees that inaction can be as morally corrupt as bad actions.
    • Quickly, Darnay comes to a conclusion: he must return to France.
    • With this decided, Darnay sets about planning a "business" trip. He tells Lucie that he’ll be gone for a few days.
    • Then he writes a letter explaining his real situation and leaves it for her to find once he’s left.
    • He also writes to the doctor, asking him to take care of the family until he returns.
    • In the dead of the night, Darnay sets out for Paris.
    • We’re not sure, but we really don’t have a very good feeling about this...
  • Book the Third: The Track of a Storm
    Volume III, Chapter One – In Secret

    • In 1792, traveling through France is pretty slow going.
    • Okay: traveling in the 1700s was pretty slow all the time. We know that. But now it’s extra slow. Even slower than before. Sloooooooow.
    • Darnay, of course, happens to be traveling in 1792.
    • He’s not getting too far.
    • Everywhere he goes, he’s stopped. People have to check his papers. Then they have to re-check them.
    • Meanwhile, Darnay waits for several hours.
    • This happens over and over. And over.
    • Finally, in the middle of the night, he’s taken prisoner by a group of patriots.
    • They deliver him to the local authorities, who decide that he’s an emigrant and must be sent to Paris immediately.
    • When Darnay tries to protest, he gets smacked around for a while. Apparently, folks have figured out that he’s an aristocrat.
    • Needless to say, they’re not too happy about the news.
    • Bundled into a carriage, Darnay begins the halting, slow journey to the capital.
    • The patriots force him to pay for an armed escort into the capital. After all, anything could happen to him on the road.
    • On the way, a man screams out that a decree has been passed: the property of all emigrants can be confiscated by the Republic.
    • Darnay begins to realize that his trip might just be a bit more complicated than he’d planned.
    • The crowds aren’t all that pleased to see him pass.
    • Some even threaten to kill the aristocrat. Others mutter that he’ll be judged when he gets to Paris.
    • Friendly country, huh?
    • At the gates of the city, a guardsman asks for the papers of the prisoner.
    • Darnay isn’t too excited about the fact that he’s gone from being a traveler to an emigrant to a prisoner.
    • Sure enough, he’s taken to the prison.
    • Defarge is there. He identifies Darnay as "Citizen Evrémonde."
    • The officer holding Darnay’s papers looks at him, nods, and condemns him to prison.
    • Aghast, Darnay wants to know why.
    • He’s done nothing wrong—nothing against the law.
    • The man smiles grimly. He informs Darnay that there are new laws now.
    • In fact, under these laws, emigrants have no rights at all.
    • As they walk away, Defarge quietly asks Darnay if he’s Dr. Manette’s son-in-law.
    • Darnay says he is.
    • Desperate, Darnay turns to Defarge and begs for help.
    • Defarge refuses. It’s not in his power.
    • Darnay asks if he’ll be imprisoned without trial or any attention to justice.
    • Sniffing a bit, Defarge says that many people have been unfairly imprisoned before.
    • Darnay responds, "But not by me."
    • Defarge looks darkly at him for a minute, then walks in silence.
    • Darnay asks for one favor: that Defarge will tell Mr. Lorry that Darnay has been imprisoned in La Force.
    • Refusing, Defarge declares that he’s a patriot. He can do nothing to help aristocrats.
    • With that, Defarge turns Darnay over to the gaoler of La Force.
    • The prison isn’t that great a place to be. It’s smelly and dark and all-around disgusting.
    • Within the prison, Darnay is greeted by faded aristocrats who crowd against him in the small rooms.
    • They’re almost ghostly; their courtly manners are…just a bit creepy in this dismal location.
    • Darnay ends up in a small tower. He begs the gaoler to sell him a pen and paper.
    • The gaoler refuses. At present, the only thing Darnay can buy is food.
    • Left alone in his cell, Darnay begins to pace frantically.
  • Volume III, Chapter Two – The Grindstone

    • Tellson’s has set up temporary offices in the abandoned palace of an aristocrat.
    • From this rather inauspicious location, Mr. Lorry has been making lots and lots of financial decisions.
    • Riches have to be preserved (and shipped away), papers have to be saved, even more papers have to be burned…all in all, he’s been a pretty busy guy.
    • Fortunately, Tellson’s seems to be in a safe space for now.
    • Mr. Lorry looks out into the courtyard, where a large grindstone has been set up.
    • The patriots use the courtyard as a space where they re-grind the edges of their weapons.
    • Strangely enough, that makes the building a fairly safe place to be.
    • As Mr. Lorry looks out the window, he receives a violent shock: Lucie and her father are coming in the courtyard door.
    • Quickly, Mr. Lorry opens the door and rushes them inside.
    • Lucie tells him that Darnay has come to the city.
    • Immediately, Mr. Lorry realizes what this means. Darnay is in trouble.
    • He tries to shield the Manettes from the windows, but the doctor coolly ignores him.
    • Dr. Manette, you see, is something of a hero for the patriots. As a former prisoner of the Bastille, he’s untouchable.
    • In fact, he might even have some leverage in getting Darnay out of prison.
    • That’s why he and Lucie had come to Paris.
    • Mr. Lorry actually agrees. He hurries Lucie up to his room, and then he and the doctor look out the window.
    • Patriots are grinding weapons like mad.
    • The entire courtyard has become stained with blood.
    • Sparks fly off the grindstone, making the entire place look something like a hell on earth.
    • Mr. Lorry whispers to the doctor that the patriots have begun murdering prisoners.
    • Dr. Manette sighs and goes out into the crowd.
    • Soon Mr. Lorry hears the crowd screaming, "Long live the Bastille prisoner!"
    • He watches as Dr. Manette is carried out into the streets by the mob.
    • Later that night, he and Lucie wait upstairs for Dr. Manette to return.
    • Lucie listens, startled, as the grindstone works through the night.
  • Volume III, Chapter Three – The Shadow

    • It’s now noon of the next day. The doctor still hasn’t returned.
    • Mr. Lorry wants to be worried about the Manettes, but bank business must come first.
    • At the moment, bank business also involves making sure that Lucie and her child aren’t hanging out in the bank.
    • If worse comes to worst, their presence could make trouble for Tellson’s.
    • We can’t fault the guy’s reasoning. It’s a bit strange, maybe, but it’s probably accurate.
    • Accordingly, Mr. Lorry moves Lucie, her child, and Miss Pross into his own rooms.
    • Back at Tellson’s, he waits anxiously for the end of the day.
    • Right as the business day is about to end, a man shows up at the door. He’s accompanied by two women, one of whom is knitting.
    • He waits for Mr. Lorry to recognize him.
    • Mr. Lorry doesn’t.
    • The man prompts Mr. Lorry a bit: they last saw each other at the wine-shop he runs.
    • That’s right, folks, it’s Defarge.
    • Wait, didn’t he say that he wouldn’t help Darnay?
    • Well, yes. But this is different. He comes with a letter from Dr. Manette to Mr. Lorry, asking Mr. Lorry to let Defarge see Lucie.
    • In Lucie’s room, Defarge hands over a letter from Darnay.
    • It’s short, but it lets them all know that he’s still okay.
    • Overwhelmed, Lucie reaches up and kisses Madame Defarge’s hand.
    • The hand doesn’t stop knitting.
    • Madame Defarge is a real piece of work.
    • Lucie looks up at her, terrified. Something just doesn’t seem right...
    • Mr. Lorry quickly explains that Madame Defarge likes to look at those whom she may be able to help in times of crisis.
    • Calling in Miss Pross and little Lucie so that Madame Defarge can see them, too, Mr. Lorry asks for her help in the future.
    • Lucie pleads for mercy for her husband.
    • Madame Defarge ignores this cry. She says that she’s here for the daughter of Dr. Manette (and not the wife of Evrémonde).
    • Frantic, Lucie asks her to protect her husband because he’s the doctor’s son-in-law.
    • She begs for pity as a wife and a mother.
    • Madame Defarge stares at her coldly and says that the wives and mothers of France have been suffering for a very long time.
    • She leaves without ever promising to help.
  • Volume III, Chapter Four – Calm in a Storm

    • Dr. Manette doesn’t return for four days.
    • When he finally makes it back to the house, he tells Lucie a condensed version of what he’s seen.
    • Mr. Lorry, however, gets the full story: Dr. Manette went to the Tribunal that tries all the prisoners.
    • He announced himself as a former prisoner of the Bastille, and was awarded special status in the Tribunal.
    • From his seat, he saw Darnay brought before the court and almost released.
    • At the last minute, however, the President of the Tribunal got some new information.
    • He ordered that Darnay be held in prison. He won’t be executed, but he won’t be set free.
    • Dr. Manette describes the Tribunals as madness. There’s not any justice or even any attempt at observing any laws.
    • Finally, however, he decides to use all the influence he has to save Darnay.
    • In fact, for the first time since he was released from prison, he seems like a socially powerful man.
    • The doctor becomes the head medical inspector of three prisons. In that position, he’s able to bring back occasional news of Darnay.
    • Strangely enough, Mr. Lorry observes that the doctor begins to take pride in his ability to do things for his family.
    • For a long time, Lucie took care of him. Now he’s able to return the favor.
    • Nonetheless, despite all the doctor’s efforts, Darnay remains in prison.
    • Time passes without any real markers.
    • And now, friends, we’re introduced to the real star of this novel: the guillotine.
    • Our narrator takes a good, long time to describe the ways that it influences and symbolizes the new Republic.
    • It’s actually a really good bit of the novel—we recommend that you check it out for yourselves.
    • The doctor moves through all the madness of this time. The guillotine chops off heads right and left, Darnay remains in prison, and Lucie…waits.
  • Volume III, Chapter Five – The Wood-Sawyer

    • A year passes. Then another three months pass. Nothing’s changed.
    • Lucie, in particular, seems to have weathered the calamity pretty well.
    • She’s not wearing bright, fancy clothes, sure, but otherwise she’s cheerful.
    • Only occasionally does her grief break through. Then she cries on her father’s shoulder all night.
    • He remains confident that he can save Darnay and tries to reassure his daughter as much as he can.
    • One day, the doctor comes home with some news: every now and then, Darnay can make his way to a little window that looks out onto the street.
    • He usually manages to be there at three in the afternoon. It’s not every day…in fact, it’s only about once a week.
    • Nonetheless, he asked if Lucie would be willing to come stand in front of the window at three o'clock so he could see her.
    • From that time on, Lucie goes to the street next to the window every afternoon.
    • Whatever the weather’s like, she stands outside for two hours.
    • Talk about devotion, huh?
    • We’re not the only ones who notice how devoted Lucie is.
    • A woodcutter happens to realize that she’s standing on his street every day.
    • At first, he greets her and she returns the greeting.
    • After a bit, though, he begins to make jokes about the guillotine. Unsurprisingly, Lucie doesn’t find them very funny.
    • He thinks it’s a riot, though. He even makes a miniature version of the guillotine and hangs it outside his window.
    • Honestly, we think the guy needs some hobbies of his own.
    • One day, he’s not in his shop.
    • Lucie’s relieved—until she sees him dancing with The Vengeance and a mob of hundreds of other people.
    • They’re dancing a wild, bloody, violent dance. Apparently, it involves lots of teeth-gnashing. It’s called the Carmagnole.
    • Lucie stares at them, frightened. Her father comes up to lead her away, and she asks him about the horrible dance.
    • He tries to calm her, although he’s seen it several times before.
    • Suddenly, Madame Defarge appears right beside them.
    • She disappears as quickly as she came.
    • As they walk home, Dr. Manette tells Lucie that Darnay has been summoned to the Tribunal. He’s supposed to have a trial tomorrow.
    • In the distance, they hear the guillotine chopping off three heads.
    • We sure hope that this isn’t foreshadowing.
    • The doctor leaves Lucie at home and heads off to see Mr. Lorry to make plans for the next day.
  • Volume III, Chapter Six – Triumph

    • It’s the morning of Darnay’s trial.
    • Five judges sit at the Tribunal bench. The audience hall is packed with people here to see a show.
    • One woman sits in the front row, knitting. Beside her, Darnay sees Defarge.
    • Dr. Manette sits right beneath the president of the Tribunal, ready to testify.
    • Darnay’s charges are read: he’s an emigrant, and all emigrants are subject to death.
    • It doesn’t matter, of course, that this law was instituted after Darnay came to France.
    • The crowd seems to agree. They immediately call for his death.
    • Darnay testifies that he’s been living in England and earning his own money there. He even married a woman in England.
    • When asked, Darnay announces that his wife is Lucie, the daughter of Dr. Manette.
    • The crowd gasps in astonishment. This is an even better show than they’d anticipated.
    • The president asks why Darnay chose to return to France.
    • Darnay explains that he felt a moral obligation to return, even though he’d given up any claim to his own lands long ago.
    • He’d come back to save a citizen’s life. How could this be criminal?
    • The audience now agrees with Darnay. They shout pretty loudly to save him.
    • Audiences are pretty fickle, in case you haven’t noticed.
    • The president reads Gabelle’s letter to Darnay aloud.
    • Now Dr. Manette takes the stand. When he testifies that Darnay had actually been on trial in England for being a foe to England and a friend of the United States, the crowd goes crazy.
    • The French helped the U.S. in the American Revolution, remember?
    • Therefore, Darnay must be a good guy!
    • The jury adds its voices to the choir: Darnay is set free!
    • Crying "Long Live the Republic!" the crowd hoists Darnay on people’s shoulders and carries him out of the courtroom.
    • He’s like a football hero: no one can get enough of him.
    • Soon, though, the Manettes manage to get him home.
    • Lucie and Darnay fall onto the floor, praying in thanks for Darnay’s release.
    • Dr. Manette enters and Lucie runs to him, trembling.
    • Smiling, the doctor tells her to be strong. He’s saved Darnay.
  • Volume III, Chapter Seven – A Knock at the Door

    • The Manettes have been living pretty frugally, as they’ve had to pay for all of Darnay’s food and lodging in prison. It hasn’t been cheap.
    • Nonetheless, they decide to have a little feast to celebrate Darnay’s return.
    • Miss Pross and Jerry Cruncher have been taking care of the shopping for the past few months.
    • It’s actually a harder job than it might seem.
    • See, since everyone is now suspicious of anyone who has money, Miss Pross and Jerry have to go around buying things in really small quantities.
    • They buy one thing at one store, then go across town to buy another thing at another store.
    • As they set out that night, Miss Pross expresses her opinion of the patriots of the new Republic.
    • She doesn’t like them all that much. In fact, she thinks that they’re a bunch of hooligans.
    • Before they leave, though, Miss Pross has one question for the Manettes: when will they be able to leave?
    • Dr. Manette thinks that they should stay in Paris for a few days, just so that no one gets suspicious.
    • With that, Miss Pross and Jerry set out on their errands.
    • Lucie and her father stay downstairs for a minute.
    • Suddenly, Lucie starts. She thinks she hears footsteps on the stairs.
    • The doctor assures her that nothing can be wrong now. He’s saved Darnay.
    • Sure enough, though, soldiers appear at the door.
    • They ask for Darnay. He’s been denounced by Saint Antoine.
    • The doctor demands to know why.
    • The soldiers reply that the doctor shouldn’t ask questions.
    • If the Republic needs him to sacrifice his son-in-law, then he should do it happily. After all, it’s for the good of the Republic.
    • Sound a little creepy? We think so, too.
    • Finally, though, the soldier relents. Darnay has been denounced by Monsieur and Madame Defarge…and one other.
    • When the doctor asks who the other person is, the soldier stares at him for a minute.
    • He doesn’t know?
  • Volume III, Chapter Eight – A Hand at Cards

    • While Darnay is being arrested at home, Miss Pross and Jerry are still out shopping for his feast.
    • All of a sudden, Miss Pross sees a man and starts to scream.
    • The man jumps in awkward embarrassment.
    • Miss Pross runs up to him, calling out his name.
    • Soloman, the man, drags her into an alley and tells her to shut up.
    • Jerry follows them into the alley. He’s a bit confused.
    • Angry, Soloman wants to know what Miss Pross wants.
    • Miss Pross, teary-eyed, introduces Soloman to Jerry as her beloved brother.
    • Of course, our narrator is quick to tell us that Soloman stole Miss Pross’ money and then pretended to be dead...but she doesn’t know that yet.
    • Suddenly, Jerry takes an interest in Soloman.
    • As he remembers it, however, Soloman wasn’t his name back in England.
    • In fact, he thinks that Soloman used to be a spy. He was supposed to have died.
    • What was the name Soloman used to use?
    • While Jerry thinks, a new voice breaks into the conversation.
    • It’s Sydney Carton. He informs Jerry that Solomon’s old name was Barsad.
    • Carton reassures Miss Pross that everything is all right. He showed up a day ago; he’s been to see Mr. Lorry and he’s now trying to be of some help to the Manettes.
    • Now, though, he’s here to see Barsad.
    • Apparently Soloman/Barsad has become a spy in the French prisons.
    • Carton explains that he’d like to have a conversation with Barsad at Mr. Lorry’s.
    • When Barsad seems inclined to say no, Carton gently tells him that he has information that could make life pretty sticky for Barsad.
    • That changes Barsad’s mind!
    • Miss Pross, however, is worried. She begs Carton to protect her brother.
    • Carton promises.
    • At Mr. Lorry’s, Carton introduces Barsad.
    • Next, he breaks the bad news to Mr. Lorry: Darnay has been arrested again.
    • Not to worry, though: Carton has a plan.
    • To make the plan work, though, he needs Barsad’s help.
    • As we may have mentioned, Barsad isn’t exactly the helping sort.
    • In fact, he needs quite a bit of convincing.
    • Luckily, however, Carton has some dirt on Barsad.
    • Barsad has been spying on the prisoners for the French revolutionaries, but he’s also been spying on the French for the English.
    • No one likes a double-crossing spy.
    • Moreover, Carton knows that Barsad’s friend is passing as a Frenchman—but he’s really an Englishman, Roger Cly.
    • Jerry suddenly pays close attention. He wants to know why Roger Cly never got properly buried.
    • In fact, he asks Barsad.
    • Barsad can’t figure out how Jerry would know this…until Jerry informs them that he tried to dig Roger up. In Roger’s place, however, he found an empty coffin.
    • Barsad knows that Carton’s managed to beat him in this particular game.
    • Now that he gets the point, Barsad wants to know what Carton wants from him.
    • As it turns out, Carton doesn’t want much. Barsad is a keyholder of the prison. He can pass in and out at will, right?
    • Barsad agrees. He’s able to go into the prison whenever he likes.
    • Carton nods, then asks Barsad to step into the next room so they can have a word together in private.
    • ...and, unfortunately, we don’t get to read about that particular conversation.
  • Volume III, Chapter Nine – The Game Made

    • While Carton and Barsad are talking in the next room, Mr. Lorry sits in silence.
    • He’s staring at Jerry Cruncher. Hard.
    • Finally, he asks what Jerry does besides working at Tellson’s.
    • Jerry says that his work is "agricultural" in nature.
    • We’re guessing that’s because it involves dirt. Oh, and bodies. Lots of dead bodies.
    • Mr. Lorry isn’t fooled.
    • In fact, he’s angry. If Jerry’s been using the respectable name of Tellson’s as a front for illegal activities, then Mr. Lorry will terminate his position as soon as they all get back to London.
    • Jerry takes deep offense to this.
    • He has an amazing speech about moral relativism that he gives here. It’s so good that we suggest you read it yourselves.
    • Basically, he says that what he does isn’t so bad…if only because everyone else does bad things, too.
    • Carton and Barsad come into the room, and Jerry and Barsad leave.
    • Left alone with Carton, Mr. Lorry asks what sort of deal Barsad made.
    • Carton says that he’s managed to make sure that someone can get in to see Darnay, just once, if things go very poorly at the trial.
    • He didn’t want to ask for anything more: it’s a bit perilous in the prison these days.
    • Mr. Lorry starts to tear up a bit at the thought of the danger ahead.
    • Carton says that Mr. Lorry is a good man and a true friend.
    • Abruptly, he asks if Mr. Lorry is heading over to see Lucie.
    • Carton doesn’t want her to know that he’s here. Mr. Lorry agrees to keep it a secret.
    • Staring into the fire, Carton asks Mr. Lorry if he has led a good life.
    • Mr. Lorry says that he’s an old bachelor—no one would weep if he died.
    • Carton scoffs at that. She would weep for him!
    • As they get up to go, Mr. Lorry says that he’s an old man…but Carton is still very young.
    • Carton smiles sadly. He’s young, sure, but he’s not made for the age that he lives in.
    • They each go their separate ways. Mr. Lorry heads to the Manettes’ place. Carton goes to a small woodworking shop in Saint Antoine.
    • He stands outside it, and the wood sawyer comes out to see him.
    • The wood sawyer seems astonished at the resemblance between Carton and the prisoner.
    • He also comments on Carton’s perfect French.
    • Next, Carton heads to a chemist. He buys two different drugs.
    • The pharmacist warns him that combining the two would be fatal.
    • We’re beginning to suspect that Carton has some sort of plan here…
    • It’s already midnight. Carton walks through the streets of Paris all night, thinking of his childhood.
    • He was orphaned at an early age. He’s never felt at home anywhere.
    • By morning, he’s back at Mr. Lorry’s door.
    • Together, they head to the Tribunal.
    • Today, one of the judges is Jacques Three, the most bloodthirsty of all the Jacques.
    • There’s a huge audience in the court as the judges call Charles Evrémonde to the stand.
    • He’s been denounced by three people: M. and Mme. Defarge, and Dr. Manette.
    • Wait…what? Dr. Manette?
    • The doctor seems as shocked as the rest of the court.
    • He cries out that the accusation is a mistake.
    • The judges, however, rebuke him. Nothing could be dearer to him than the fate of the Republic, right?
    • He doesn’t seem to agree. Then again, they don’t seem to care what he thinks.
    • The court calls Defarge to the stand. They ask him if he was one of the patriots who stormed the Bastille.
    • The Vengeance, who’s sitting in the front row, shrieks that he’s a French hero.
    • Honestly, the woman is beginning to irritate us a little bit.
    • Defarge, however, agrees. He says that he found a letter hidden in the walls of the Bastille…a letter written by Alexandre Manette during his imprisonment.
    • The courtroom gasps.
    • The judges order that the letter be read aloud.
  • Volume III, Chapter Ten – The Substance of the Shadow

    This chapter is all Dr. Manette’s letter (which is read to the court):

    • It’s 1767. Dr. Manette writes in his prison cell.
    • He’s decided to recount the reason that he’s been unjustly imprisoned for so long.
    • To do so, he starts his history ten years earlier, in 1757.
    • It’s late at night. The doctor is out walking near his residence by the medical college.
    • Suddenly, a carriage races by. The driver calls Dr. Manette’s name and the carriage screeches to a halt.
    • Inside the carriage, two men sit in the dark.
    • We’re sensing that this will lead to no good. No good at all.
    • The men ask if he’s Dr. Manette. He says that he is.
    • They inform him that he needs to come with them to see to some patients.
    • Dr. Manette has misgivings, but he gets in the carriage.
    • Soon the carriage arrives at a country house. As they go in the gate, one of the men strikes the gate-keeper with his glove.
    • That’s a big hint: he’s not a very nice guy.
    • Dr. Manette notices the same thing.
    • Inside the house, he finds a patient who appears to be suffering from brain fever.
    • She’s a beautiful young woman who seems to be about twenty years old.
    • Her hands are bound to the bed.
    • Oh, and she appears to be delirious.
    • As the doctor approaches her, she moans, "My husband, my father, and my brother!" and then counts to twelve and whispers, "Hush!"
    • Puzzled, Dr. Manette listens as she repeats the same phrases over and over.
    • When he asks the brothers how long this has lasted, they say she’s been screaming since last night.
    • They bring out a case of medicines for the doctor to use.
    • After taking one look at the medicines, the doctor realizes that they’re all narcotics and poisons.
    • The younger brother (the two men, apparently, are brothers) asks if he doubts their worth.
    • Calmly, Dr. Manette gives the young woman a small amount of a narcotic.
    • She continues to scream for her husband, father, and brother. Eventually she starts shaking so violently that he has to restrain her.
    • After a few hours, the elder brother says that there’s actually another patient in the house as well.
    • Surprised, the doctor follows the brothers out into the barn.
    • A young man lies in the hay. He’s been stabbed.
    • Hmm…and no one thought that the doctor should see him until now?
    • Astonished, Dr. Manette asks to see the wound.
    • The young man refuses. He’s dying. He doesn’t want to be treated.
    • As Dr. Manette looks at the man, he realizes that he’s been stabbed with a sword.
    • Only nobles carry swords.
    • The boy says that he may be poor, but he has pride.
    • Suddenly they can all hear the young girl screaming again. The boy asks if Dr. Manette has seen her.
    • He tells the doctor that the girl is his sister. She married a young man she loved.
    • The nobles (that would be our two brothers) wanted the girl. They harnessed her husband to a dog cart and drove him all day, but he wouldn’t give his wife to them.
    • Needless to say, they killed him.
    • The young nobleman rode away with the young boy’s sister. When he ran in to tell his father, the old man’s heart broke. He died.
    • Desperate to save his family, the young boy took his other (little) sister away from the country where they lived.
    • He returned to seek revenge for the rape and kidnapping of his sister.
    • The nobleman met him and tried to whip him, but the young boy forced him to fight. The noble struck the boy through with his sword.
    • Even though the young boy is clearly dying now, he asks Dr. Manette to raise him so that he can look at the two noble brothers who’ve wrecked his family.
    • The younger brother has run away. The elder, however, stands watching.
    • Gasping for breath, the young boy curses the nobles and all of their family. Then he dies.
    • Dr. Manette returns to the young woman. After sitting with her for days, he slowly realizes that she’s pregnant.
    • At that point, he realizes that she’s given up any desire to live at all.
    • When the Marquis asks Dr. Manette how his patient is doing, he says that she’s almost dead.
    • The Marquis says something slighting about the amazing strength of the poor.
    • Dr. Manette replies that there’s often great strength in despair.
    • That’s when the nobles realize that they can’t trust Manette.
    • Once the girl dies, the Marquis offers Dr. Manette gold. He turns it down.
    • Back at home, Dr. Manette gets a letter saying that a lady is waiting to meet him.
    • It’s the wife of the Marquis. Somehow, she’s learned about the fate of the young woman and her family.
    • She’s devastated at the ruin caused by her husband. She wants her son to have a different life than his father.
    • Asking for a way to help the family, the woman begs Dr. Manette to tell her where the other sister of the family was taken.
    • He doesn’t know. The woman rides away. She’s decided to leave her husband and take her child with her.
    • Troubled by all of this, Dr. Manette writes a letter to the Minister of State explaining the situation.
    • That night, Dr. Manette’s servant, Ernest Defarge, comes into the house to say that a man is standing at the gate.
    • Shocked, Dr. Manette realizes that the man isn’t at the gate. He’s right behind Ernest!
    • The man, of course, is from the Marquis.
    • He takes Dr. Manette to an "urgent" medical case. On the road, the carriage stops.
    • Two brothers emerge from the shadows and identify Dr. Manette. The elder holds Dr. Manette’s letter.
    • He burns the letter in front of Dr. Manette’s eyes, and then the carriage drives to the prison.
    • Since then, he’s been locked in a living grave.
    • When the court finishes reading Dr. Manette’s letter, they immediately vote to hang Charles Evrémonde. The crowd roars in approval.
  • Volume III, Chapter Eleven – Dusk

    • We have to warn you now: this is a stressful chapter.
    • No fun and games, folks. Lots of bad stuff is on the horizon.
    • Like this: when she hears Darnay’s sentence, Lucie falls to the ground in shock.
    • Quickly, however, she realizes that this won’t help her husband; she pulls herself back up to her feet.
    • The court clears out as if by magic; the patriots have other revolutionary work to do.
    • Darnay and his guards are alone in the front of the courtroom. One of the guards is Barsad.
    • Barsad looks at Lucie and tells the guards that she should have an opportunity to say goodbye to her husband.
    • Sheepishly, they agree.
    • Lucie rushes up to Darnay; they embrace.
    • Her father follows behind her, still in shock that his influence couldn’t save Darnay.
    • Dr. Manette begins to fall on his knees before Darnay, but his son-in-law quickly pulls him back up.
    • After all, there was nothing that anyone could have done to save him this time. It’s just the way that the revolution works.
    • The guards lead Darnay away.
    • As she watches Darnay go, Lucie faints again.
    • Once she’s unconscious, Carton rushes to her side and gently carries her out to her carriage.
    • Little Lucie cries out to Carton for help. She knows how much he loves her mother—why, then, can’t he do something to stop this?
    • Before he leaves, Carton asks if he can kiss Lucie.
    • Little Lucie later remembers that, as he bends over Lucie, he whispers, "A life you love."
    • Confused by that? Re-read their conversation in "The Fellow of No Delicacy" chapter.
    • Dr. Manette stands by the carriage, stricken.
    • As Carton approaches him, Dr. Manette decides that he’ll visit and write letters to all the people he thinks could save Darnay.
    • Carton encourages him; Dr. Manette runs off.
    • Left alone with Mr. Lorry, Carton says he fears that Dr. Manette won’t have any luck.
    • Mr. Lorry agrees.
    • Carton says that he’ll come by Tellson’s office at nine to hear if Dr. Manette was able to work anything out.
    • He doesn’t have much hope for that—but at least it will give Dr. Manette the satisfaction of knowing he did all that he could do.
    • In later days, he reflects, Lucie will want to know that they did all they could to save Darnay’s life.
    • The two men depart.
  • Volume III, Chapter Twelve – Darkness

    • Carton wanders through the streets of Paris, contemplating life.
    • He’s trying to work out his plan in his mind. Finally, he decides it will be best if the Defarges know what he looks like.
    • Accordingly, he scouts out the wine-shop in Saint Antoine.
    • Once he finds it, he has dinner and takes a nap. At seven, he heads over to the wine-shop.
    • Madame Defarge, of course, is sitting at the till.
    • Carton heads over to the bar and asks for some wine.
    • His French is suddenly really bad.
    • Wait…didn’t he speak almost perfect French a few chapters ago? What’s going on here?
    • Madame Defarge stares at him curiously and asks if he’s English.
    • He says that he is.
    • As she pours out the wine, he overhears her muttering to herself that he looks just like Evrémonde.
    • Defarge enters the shop; he apparently thinks the same thing.
    • He starts when he sees Carton at the counter, then walks over to confer with his wife.
    • She and Jacques Three are discussing when the revolution will be over.
    • Defarge notes that the violence will have to stop somewhere. The question, of course, is where.
    • Madame Defarge has an answer to that: they’ll stop when all of the aristocrats are exterminated.
    • Defarge doesn’t quite agree. After all, they all saw how Dr. Manette suffered when his son-in-law’s verdict was read.
    • Come to think of it, Madame Defarge is not so sure that Dr. Manette is a true patriot.
    • Defarge says Dr. Manette’s daughter, that sweet, innocent girl, was devastated by the trial today.
    • Madame Defarge snaps at her husband. She’s been watching Lucie.
    • In fact, all she has to do is lift her finger...and Lucie’s life would be over.
    • Jacques Three thinks that Madame Defarge is magnificent.
    • Apparently power (of any sort) always attracts followers.
    • Madame Defarge goes on an angry tirade. As she says, she was with Defarge when he found Dr. Manette’s letter.
    • Moreover, she is the younger sister of the woman who was raped and kidnapped.
    • She’ll never stop pursuing her revenge against the Evrémondes.
    • Her listeners are fascinated by the deadly heat of her wrath. Even Defarge stops trying to talk her into being merciful.
    • Sydney Carton listens to all of the conversation, then leaves.
    • It’s almost nine. He meets Mr. Lorry at his office.
    • They wait until midnight, but Dr. Manette still doesn’t return.
    • Finally, he walks into the office.
    • He’s a broken man. He asks immediately where his workbench is: he’s been looking for it all afternoon.
    • Dismayed, Mr. Lorry rushes to help him.
    • Carton agrees that Dr. Manette should be taken to Lucie. Before he lets them go, though, he tells Mr. Lorry about the conversation he overheard.
    • Lucie and Dr. Manette are no longer safe in Paris.
    • Quickly, Carton lays out his plans: Mr. Lorry will gather money and traveling papers for the Manettes.
    • He should also arrange for a coach to take them to the border.
    • Carton hands Mr. Lorry his own traveling papers. He says that Mr. Lorry should only wait until Carton’s place in the coach is filled.
    • As soon as that happens, the entire family must leave at once.
    • He makes Mr. Lorry promise that they won’t stop for any reason.
    • Once Mr. Lorry promises, Carton goes out into the night.
  • Volume III, Chapter Thirteen – Fifty-Two

    • In his room in the prison, Darnay counts off the hours until his death.
    • He thinks constantly of Lucie. Finally, he writes letters to Lucie, her father, and Mr. Lorry.
    • Then he paces the room, counting off the last hours of his life.
    • He knows that at three he’ll be summoned to the carriage that will take him to the guillotine.
    • At one, however, Darnay hears footsteps approaching.
    • Carton walks into the room.
    • He’s got a pressing request for Darnay: he doesn’t have time to explain why he’s asking for the things he needs.
    • Startled, Darnay does what Carton asks. They exchange boots, hair-ties, and shirts.
    • Darnay begins to understand Carton’s plan, but he’s certain that it won’t work.
    • Speaking rapidly, Carton asks Darnay to sit down and write a letter that he’ll dictate.
    • Darnay complies.
    • Carton tells him to write an unaddressed letter saying that the time has come for him to make good on the promise he once gave.
    • He knows that the reader won’t forget the promise. He wants her to be assured that he’s glad that his time has come.
    • Puzzled, Darnay stops writing. He thinks he smells a strange vapor.
    • He starts to rip the bottle out of Carton’s hand, but Carton’s too quick for him.
    • Darnay slumps to the ground, drugged.
    • Carton calls Barsad, who drags Darnay out of the jail.
    • They place Darnay on a stretcher, and Barsad carries him away.
    • At two, a jailer comes into the room and calls for Evrémonde. Carton follows him.
    • He gets into a line with fifty-one other prisoners, all of whom are scheduled to die.
    • They board carts that will carry them to the guillotine.
    • Carton stands next to a young seamstress who stares at him passionately.
    • She knows Darnay; she was with him in La Force.
    • She says that she wouldn’t be afraid to die for the Republic…but she can’t understand how the death of an insignificant, innocent woman can matter at all.
    • All of a sudden, she realizes that Carton isn’t Darnay.
    • Startled, she asks if Carton is dying for Darnay.
    • He says he’s dying for Darnay’s wife and child.
    • The seamstress asks to hold the hand of the "brave stranger" as they ride to the guillotine.
    • Meanwhile, the Manettes and Mr. Lorry are going through the checkpoints out of town.
    • Anxiously, they watch as guards check and re-check all their papers.
    • Soon, however, the carriage is flying out of Paris.
    • When they get out to a village, they’re stopped again.
    • Nervous, Mr. Lorry asks what the holdup is.
    • It turns out that the guards just want to know how many people are being fed to La Guillotine today.
    • The answer is fifty-two.
    • Satisfied, the guards let the carriage roll off into the night.
  • Volume III, Chapter Fourteen – The Knitting Done

    • Back at the wine-shop, Madame Defarge is holding a council—without her husband.
    • She’s decided that he’s too soft.
    • He doesn’t understand what it takes for a revolution to succeed.
    • The Vengeance and Jacques Three, bloodthirsty as ever, agree.
    • Madame Defarge admits that she cares nothing about Dr. Manette. He can live or die…she doesn’t mind either way.
    • Lucie and her child, however, must be exterminated.
    • All of the Evrémonde race must die.
    • Jacques Three thinks gleefully about how pretty Lucie’s golden hair will look at the base of La Guillotine.
    • Madame Defarge swears her two companions to secrecy. Her husband can’t know about their plans.
    • Now Madame Defarge calls over the wood-sawyer and makes him promise that he’ll testify that Lucie was exchanging traitorous signals with the prisoner Evrémonde.
    • Happy to help the revolution, the guy agrees.
    • We’re sensing that this isn’t exactly the best display of justice in action.
    • Perhaps that’s what Dickens intended us to think.
    • At any rate, Madame Defarge is pretty happy with the way things are shaping up.
    • Confident that Lucie will be pretty angry at the Republic right now (after all, her husband’s being executed), Madame Defarge decides to pay her a visit.
    • Perhaps she can get Lucie to say something that will damn her whole family to death.
    • The Vengeance can’t get enough of how marvelous Madame Defarge’s plans and revolutionary fervor are.
    • Madame Defarge stalks through the streets.
    • She’s a cold, cold woman.
    • She cares nothing about love—only about vengeance. Sort of like her friend, The Vengeance.
    • As she walks toward the Manette household, Miss Pross and Jerry Cruncher are well on their way to leaving it forever.
    • They’ve been left behind to pack all the Manettes’ things.
    • They’re almost ready to leave. Miss Pross sends Jerry out to get the carriage.
    • She plans to meet him by the cathedral door.
    • That way, they won’t excite any suspicions about the family leaving.
    • Frantic to keep her darlings safe, Miss Pross sends Jerry on his way.
    • Once she’s left alone, Miss Pross washes her face. She hasn’t slept all night.
    • Opening her eyes, she sees a figure standing in the doorway.
    • It’s Madame Defarge.
    • She demands to know where the wife of Evrémonde is at the moment.
    • Miss Pross, of course, doesn’t speak any French.
    • She has a pretty good hunch that Madame Defarge is asking for her darlings, however.
    • And she’s determined not to give that evil Frenchwoman any hints about where her darlings have gone.
    • Quickly, Miss Pross slams all the doors in the room shut.
    • If Madame Defarge looked through them, she’d see the havoc of a family that left its house quickly.
    • Miss Pross and Madame Defarge say some nasty things to each other. Neither can understand the other, but they seem to communicate pretty well just the same.
    • At the very least, they each hate the other.
    • Madame Defarge throws open all the doors in the house but one: Miss Pross guards the last door herself.
    • Realizing that Miss Pross isn’t planning to move anytime soon, Madame Defarge lunges at the door.
    • Miss Pross grabs Madame Defarge around the waist and hangs on for dear life.
    • They claw at each other; Madame Defarge lunges for the keys at Miss Pross’ waist.
    • All of a sudden, Miss Pross sees Madame Defarge draw something out of her dress.
    • She grasps Madame Defarge’s hand.
    • A loud blast goes off.
    • As the smoke clears, she sees Madame Defarge lying on the ground.
    • She’s dead.
    • Miss Pross collects her things, puts on her bonnet, and rushes to the cathedral.
    • Jerry’s waiting for her.
    • He calls out to her, but she can’t hear him.
    • In fact, she never hears anything again.
  • Volume III, Chapter Fifteen – The Footsteps Die Out for Ever

    • Six carts carry fifty-two people to the guillotine.
    • Crowds of people gather to see the faces of the soon-to-be-dead.
    • Out narrator pauses to explore the different looks on the various faces.
    • Some seem bewildered, some angry, some absolutely hopeless.
    • One in particular stares out into the crowd without any apparent interest in his surroundings. He shakes his hair to cover his face a bit more.
    • Anxiously, the crowd cries out to discern which of the prisoners is Evrémonde.
    • Meanwhile, The Vengeance pushes through the crowd, crying out for Madame Defarge.
    • She’s saved her a seat right by La Guillotine, but she can’t find her friend anywhere.
    • As the guillotine begins to crash, the audience counts the number of heads that roll to the ground.
    • Scared, the little seamstress clings to Carton.
    • She thinks that he’s an angel sent to be with her in her time of trouble.
    • He comforts her, telling her that she’s going to a place with no suffering. She’ll be able to be with her family there.
    • They kiss, and she steps up onto the guillotine before Carton.
    • The audience counts to twenty-two.
    • Carton murmurs the words of Christ, "I am the Resurrection and the Life…" as he steps onto the platform.
    • The audience counts to twenty-three.
    • It's revealed that, afterwards, witnesses said his face was the most peaceful face they saw on the guillotine.
    • The narrator reflects that, if Carton had a chance to write down his thoughts before his death, they would have been something like this:
    • He foresees a time when vengeance in France will end.
    • He sees a nation rising out of the blood and ashes of this time, a nation stronger and better for the struggles it has had to endure.
    • He sees the Manettes in the future, with a child that bears his name.
    • He imagines the stories that they’ll tell of the man who gave his life for their happiness.
    • He sees his own name cleared of all the stains he’s placed on it, living again through Lucie’s son.
    • He reflects that this action is perhaps the best one that he’s ever taken.