A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities Essay Questions

  1. 1

    How sympathetic is Dickens towards the French Revolution? Which details illustrate his revulsion or attraction to the movement?

  2. 2

    Compare the adherence to traditional gender roles by Lucie Manette and Madame Defarge. Is Dickens constrained by literary or social conventions, for example by making a manly woman the villain and a feminine woman the sentimental heroine?

  3. 3

    How does religion color the attitudes of the characters in this novel? Compare Sydney Carton to Lucie Manette, or Jerry Cruncher to the Defarges.

  4. 4

    Does the plot's reliance on fate and coincidence--including the resemblance of Carton to Darnay, the discovery of Dr. Manette's document, and the double recognition of Solomon Pross a.k.a. John Barsad by Miss Pross and Jerry Cruncher--make the story less believable or less powerful?

  5. 5

    How does Dickens reconcile his distaste for the Revolution with his identity as a social crusader? Does he believe in the people's right to revolt under an oppressive government?

  6. 6

    Examine the motifs of light and darkness in this novel, and trace how they relate to Carton, Lucie, Dr. Manette, and/or Madame Defarge's character development.

  7. 7

    The most recurrent criticism of this novel is that the characters do not have the psychological depth or development of other Dickensian figures. Does Sydney Carton's transformation undermine this claim? Is this criticism really fair toward the other characters?

  8. 8

    Examine the theme of resurrection in the novel. Which characters are brought back to life and how? Is there any situation from which resurrection is impossible?

  9. 9

    Dickens focuses mostly on the lower class in France, but what sense does he give of the lower class in England? Why was there no comparable class struggle in the same era?

  10. 10

    Analyze Dickens's descriptions of mobs in England and in France. How do they differ? What makes a mob what it is? How do mobs make decisions?