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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Video SparkNotes: Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities summary

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a Tale of Two Cities is about the French

Revolution and the lives of some of the

people who get caught up in it it takes

place over seventeen years from 1775 to

79 T - with flashbacks going back even

further and it shows the injustice

leading to the Revolution and the

consequences it is also in many ways a

Christian allegory about sacrifice and

spiritual Redemption the book begins one

night in 1775 a man named Jarvis lorry

is in a male coach on his way to Dover

England mr. lorry works for Tulsans Bank

in London and he's leaving from Dover

for Paris on business

a man lorry nose named Jerry cruncher

catches up to him and gives him a note

that says wait at Dover for mam'selle

mr. lorry says Jerry should reply with

the phrase recalled to life the next day

mr. lorry meets with Lucie Manette she

thinks there's some news about property

belonging to her father whom she thinks

died 18 years ago mr. lorry informs her

that her father is actually alive he was

imprisoned in France Lucy's mother died

when Lucy was 2

so Lucy grew up thinking her parents

were gone forever but now mr. lorry is

going to take her to see her father the

story shifts to the poor Paris

neighborhood of sant antoine a wine cask

has broken open in the street and frenzy

ensues as people rush to drink as much

wine as they can inside the wine shop

where the cask was supposed to be

delivered Monsieur and Madame Defarge

the owners of the shop are talking to

three men the men will refer to each

other as Jacques it's a code name that

identifies them as revolutionaries mr.

lorry and Lucie Manette are there and

Monsieur Defarge leads them upstairs in

a small room as Lucy's father Dr Manette

he can barely speak and does nothing but

obsessively make shoes a skill he taught

himself in the Bastille where he was

locked up he only refers to himself as

105 North Tower which is the cell he was

held in he doesn't know Lucy though she

reminds him of his wife and he doesn't

recognise mr. lorry his old friend Lucy

tells him his agony is over and they

cried together Doctor Manette is then

smuggled out of Paris and taken to

England the story skips ahead five years

to 1780

Jerry cruncher who works as a runner and

messenger for Tulsans Bank is on

assignment watching a treason trial the

man on trial is Charles Darnay he is

accused of passing English secrets to


a man named John Barsad testifies

against Darnay then a man named Roger

cly who used to work as Darnay is

servant testifies that he saw Darnay

show papers to various French gentlemen

other people are called up lastly a man

who says he saw Darnay in the mail coach

to Dover five years earlier darnay's

attorney mr. Stryver asks if it could

have been someone else who looked like

Darnay the man is sure it wasn't mr.

Stryver then asks Sydney Carton to stand

up everyone is shocked at how much

carton and Darnay resemble each other

and the witness's credibility falls

apart mr. Stryver makes the case that

Barsad and cly were really the spies and

Darnay is acquitted though not

acquainted Darnay and Sydney Carton end

up going to a tavern together carton

asks Darnay if it was worth almost

losing his life to win Lucie Manette's

compassion he is obviously depressed and

he doesn't like Darnay because Darnay

reminds him of everything he is not we

eventually learned that carton works

with mr. Shriver and has no hope of

being anything but a drunk and no

intention of trying to improve his

situation he does however have feelings

for Lucie Manette four months pass mr.

lorry goes to visit Lucie and Dr Manette

they aren't home so he speaks with her

housekeeper miss Pross he asks about

doctor Manette

who was mostly returned to normal and

resumed work as a physician doctor

Manette won't get rid of his shoe making

bench and Miss Pross suspects he thinks

about his years in prison often though

he's afraid to speak of them miss Pross

also goes on about how her brother

Solomon a scoundrel who has disappeared

is the only person good enough to marry


doctor Manette and Lucie arrive then

Darnay after lunch

Darnay tells a story about the Tower of

London where he was held during his

trial in an old dungeon that had been

built over and forgotten some workmen

found a stone inscribed with letters

that appeared to be initials but

eventually were discovered to spell the

word dig under a stone in the floor they

found the ashes of an O in leather bag

the story causes doctor Manette obvious

distress but he says it's nothing back

in France the wealthy Marquis st.

Evremonde speeds recklessly through a

poor village

he hits and kills a small boy and his

only reaction is to toss a gold coin at

the boys grieving father Monsieur and

Madame Defarge are there when the

Marquis tosses monsieur defarge a gold


Defarge throws it back into his coach

the Marquis curses the commoners while

Madame Defarge just watches and knits

Darnay arrives at the Marquis home that

night Darnay is his nephew his real name

is also ever moaned and he's come from

England to tell the Marquis he is

renouncing the title and property he

stands to inherit when the Marquis dies

all their family's wealth has been

obtained at the expense of the people

and he wants no part of it

one morning comes the Marquis is dead he

has been stabbed through the heart the

note left reads drive him fast to his

tomb this from Jacques a year passes

Darnay is living in London as a French

tutor and one day he goes to Doctor

Manette and reveals that he's in love

with Lucy Darnay also confesses that

Darnay isn't his real name but Manette

stops him before he says any more mr.

Stryver and Sydney Carton also talk

about Lucie Strieber says he intends to

marry her and carton seems uneasy about

it though he doesn't admit it's because

he's also in love with Lucy on his way

to propose mr. Stryver stops to ask mr.

lorry's opinion mr. lorry convinced his

driver to wait until he spoke into the


and is sure Lucy will accept that

evening mr. lorry tells driver she would

have turned him down

strieber replies angrily that it's best

for him anyway

Sydney Carton then goes to speak to Lucy

he tells her he's worthless he loves her

and she inspired in him a dream of being

a better man he knows it won't happen

but he wanted to tell her and ask that

she never tell anyone he says he will

never mention it again

that outwardly he will always appear as

he's been in the past but she will know

his true feelings before carton leaves

he says he would sacrifice everything

for Lucy while Jerry cruncher and his

son young Jerry wait for work in front

of Tulsans Bank a funeral passes by it's

a rowdy crowd and someone tells cruncher

the funeral is for Roger cly who is

convicted of spying against England

cly is one of the men who testified

against Darnay that night cruncher goes

to the graveyard where cly was buried

his son follows him and sees him and two

other men digging up cly's grave Jerry

cruncher is what's called a red

direction man he digs up recently

deceased bodies and sells them to

scientists but something went wrong when

cruncher dug up cly's body though we

don't know what yet we learned why

Madame Defarge is always knitting she's

making a coded record of everyone the

revolutionaries must kill the list comes

up when Monsieur Defarge hears about the

person who was executed for the murder

of the Marquis the jocks demand that the

aristocracy in all its heirs be

eliminated and Monsieur Defarge replies

that once a name is added to madame

defarge's list it can't be erased the

next day a stranger shows up in the

defarge's wine-shop it's John Barsad who

testified against Darnay he talks about

how oppressed the people are trying to

get the defarges to reveal the

revolutionary ideas but the defarges

were warned about him

before he leaves he mentions that Lucie

Manette is getting married to Charles

Darnay the nephew of the Marquis

Monsieur Defarge is shocked at the news

he thinks of the Manette's

and he hopes for their sakes that Darnay

stays out of France because his name is

in the register Lucie Manette and

Charles Darnay are married in a small

ceremony and everyone is happy earlier

in the day however Mr lorry noticed that

Doctor Manette was visibly disturbed by

a conversation he had in private with

Darnay we learned later that Darnay

revealed to Doctor Manette his true

identity as the nephew of the Marquis Dr

Manette is supposed to join Lucy and

Darnay on their honeymoon but he

relapses into insanity mr. lorry finds

him back at his cobbler's bench that

night in the condition in which he first

found him after several days mr. lorry

finds Doctor Manette fully recovered he

doesn't remember what happened and says

some stimulus must have triggered the

memories only he doesn't know what it

was when mr. lorry suggests they get rid

of the cobbler's bench doctor Manette

hesitates but ultimately agrees when

Doctor Manette leaves to join Lucy and

Darnay mr. lorry and Miss Pross

destroyed the bench and buried the tools

they decide never to tell anyone about

doctor Manette's relapse several years

pass and it is now 1789 the family lives

happily Lucie and Charles have a

daughter also named Lucy and they had a

son who died young Sydney Carton has

grown very close with the family one

night in July mr. lorry comes to the


he says Tulsans is extremely busy

because people in Paris remove

all their wealth to England the unspoken

implication is that it isn't safe

anymore in France

finally the Revolution years in the


begins the revolutionary stormed the

Bastille a mass of jail in Paris and the

defarges are among the leaders after

hours of fighting the Bastille a symbol

of the oppression of the poor surrenders

Monsieur Defarge and one of the jocks

find a guard and demand he take them to

105 North Tower the room where Dr

Manette was held they search the room

and appear to find something important

though we aren't told what it is

afterward the revolutionaries carry out

brutal executions of aristocrats and

officials and there's chaos across

France three years passed like this it

is now 1792 Tulsans bank decides to

dispatch mr. lorry to its Paris branch

in hopes that he can protect their

records from destruction

Darnay tries to convince him not to go

but mr. lorry is resolved just then mr.

lorry receives a letter addressed to the

nephew of the Marquis mr. lorry still

doesn't know darnay's true identity but

Darnay tells him he knows the man and

will deliver the letter the letter is

from an official in France when the

Marquis died Darnay inherited his

property but since he wasn't there the

official took care of it the

revolutionaries have imprisoned him for

being sympathetic to the aristocracy and

he wants Darnay to save him

Darnay decides to go in that night he

writes a farewell letter and leaves in

France it isn't long before Darnay is

arrested and taken to LaForest prison in

Paris there as Monsieur Defarge leads

him to a cell he asks if Darnay is the

one who married Lucie Manette Darnay

recalls defarge's name as that of the

man who helped Dr Manette and asks his

help but the fajr won't help him mr.

lorry isn't elsens in Paris when Doctor

Manette and Lucie unexpectedly enter

they heard about Darnay there's little

time outside revolutionaries are

sharpening weapons to kill the prisoners

in La force Dr Manette as a former

prisoner of the Bastille knows he'll

have influence with them so he goes

outside and after a moment leaves with

the revolutionaries for the prison

Monsieur Defarge finds mr. lorry he has

a letter from Darnay and mr. lorry takes

Monsieur Defarge as well as Madame

Defarge and her lieutenant who's

referred to as the Vengeance

to see Lucy Lucy implores madame

defarge's help but she refuses more than

a year passes with Darnay locked up

Doctor Manette has become the physician

for three prisons in this time and he

tells Lucy of a spot where Darnay might

be able to see her she waits there for

two hours every day hoping he sees her

the day of darnay's trial arrives he's

accused as an emigrant since he left

France for England and he could be put

to death but Darnay says he went to

England because he had nothing in France

after renouncing his property and when

Doctor Manette who is well known and

beloved testifies in support of Darnay

he is acquitted the crowd which was

ready to tear Darnay to pieces earlier

cheers and carries him home on their

shoulders but Darnay is arrested again

shortly afterward on new charges his

accusers are Monsieur and Madame Defarge

and one other person whose identity the

soldiers won't reveal while Darnay is

being arrested miss Pross and Jerry

cruncher who's been working for mr.

lorry in Paris are stopping into a wine


miss Pross is shocked to recognize her

brother solomon cruncher swears he's

seen him before but can't quite place

him until sydney carton appears he

reveals that solomon is an English spy

working under the alias of John Barsad

and carton forces him to go with them to

tell since they find mr. lorry and

carton says Darnay has been arrested

again he overheard bar Saud talking to

someone about it in the wine shop to

ensure that bar Saud will help carton

threatens to expose him as a spy if that

isn't enough carton will also expose the

man he was speaking with Roger cly also

a spy bar Saad counters that cly is dead

and takes out a certificate of burial to

prove it but Jerry cruncher reveals that

there was no body in cly's coffin just

dirt and rocks while mr. lorry scolds

Jerry cruncher for grave robbing carton

speaks with barsaat alone and makes him

agree to help with a secret plan carton

wanders Paris alone that night he thinks

of Lucie and repeats to himself a Bible

verse that promises eternal life to

those who believe in Christ he also buys

something at a chemist shop darnay's

newish trial takes place in the morning

the first thing that happens is the

judge reads out darnay's accusers they

are Monsieur and Madame Defarge and

doctor Manette everyone is shocked at

the mention of doctor Manette but the

prosecutor produces a letter written by


dr. that Monsieur Defarge recovered from

105 North Tower in the Bastille it tells

the story of how Dr Manette was

imprisoned many years earlier in 1757 a

pair of twin brothers approached Dr

Manette and asked them for his help

Manette was taken to a young woman who

was feverish and hysterical as he tried

to help her

the twins told him there was another

patient they took him to a room where a

young boy lay dying of a stab wound

while Dr Manette treated him the boy

described how his sister the young woman

in the other room was recently married

but one of the twins still desired her

they asked her husband persuade his new

wife to sleep with him but he couldn't

and so as they were nobles and he a

commoner they essentially worked him to

death the twin then took the sister and

raped her when her brother found out he

hit his youngest sister so the same

could never happen to her and he went to

kill the noble but he was fatally

injured in the fight after telling his

story he died

doctor Manette returned to the young

woman but a week later she also died not

long after another woman showed up at

doctor Manette's door she was the wife

of the Marquis st. Evremonde

and she knew what the Marquis had done

to the young woman she heard the woman

had a sister and wanted to find her but

Doctor Manette didn't know where she was

the woman said it would be the duty of

her son Charles to find this sister and

make any atonement he could that night a

stranger arrived at doctor Manette's

doctor Manette's servant Ernest Defarge

was there the stranger asked doctor

Manette's help with an urgent case and

when Doctor Manette went with him he was

taken to the Bastille and locked away

after the letter is read Darnay who is

technically the new Marquis in sever

mind is sentenced by unanimous vote to

die he and Lucy reach out to each other

one last time before Barsad takes him


Sydney Carton seeks out the defarge's

wine-shop and eavesdrops on them he

hears Madame Defarge say they must

accuse the minutes of spying including

the little girl it is revealed that

Madame Defarge was the sister of the

young woman the Marquise raped and she

believes everyone connected to the a

Vermont family must be punished

back at the Manette's room doctor

Manette has relapsed in his jacket

carton finds papers that will allow the

Manette family to pass out of the city

barriers and he tells mr. Liu

about madame defarge's plan he says mr.

lorry and the Manette's must leave


carton then gives mr. lorry his own

papers and says when he arrives at their

coach tomorrow they are all to leave for

England at once while Darnay prepares

for his execution carton turns up at his

cell he had Barsad sneaked him in he

says Lucie sent him and he demands that

Darnay strip off his clothes immediately

and not ask why then with the substance

he purchased from the chemist he drugs

Darnay after carton switch is closed

with Darnay Barsad has Darnay carried

out while Sydney Carton remains in

darnay's place the jailers come and take

carton and 51 other prisoners to the

guillotine in a steady stream their

heads are cut off to a cheering crowd

carton comforts the woman ahead of him

as he calmly walked toward the

scaffolding meanwhile Darnay who is

still unconscious is delivered to mr.

lorry in the minutes and together they

flee as fast as they can

at the Paris border they are stopped and

their papers inspected but they are

allowed to pass Madame Defarge shows up

at the minutes to accuse them but finds

only miss Pross there she realized that

the Manette's have already fled and when

she turns to pursue them miss Pross

grabs her they struggle and the gun

Madame Defarge pulls from her waistband

goes off and kills her Miss Pross leaves

and meets Jerry cruncher and together

the two safely get out of Paris the

woman carton was comforting is executed

and then carton is taken up it said

after that no man had ever been so calm

in the guillotine the narrator imagines

what carton was thinking he sees the

defarges and others dying by the

guillotine before it's out of use and a

beautiful city eventually rising out of

the chaos he sees Lucie Manette with a

son named after him and doctor Manette

eventually passing away tranquil II he

sees Lucien Darnay together their whole

lives always remembering carton on the

anniversary of his death he sees the

mistakes he made in his life fading away

and thinks it is a better thing he does

and sacrificing himself than he has ever

done before

for more information about A Tale of Two


check out the ax Tale of Two Cities

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The Description of Video SparkNotes: Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities summary