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A tale of two cities reviewed

Cliff Weitzman
By Cliff Weitzman Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify in Reviews on April 18, 2023

    A tale of two cities reviewed

    Have you read A Tale of Two Cities? It is one of the most popular classics you can find, and it had a huge impact on society. Here is all you need to know about this incredible book.

    A summary of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities

    A Tale of Two Cities was written by Charles Dickens, it was released in 1859, and it is one of the best-selling novels of all time. It tells the story set in Paris and London during the French Revolution, as well as the events that lead to it. It is a historical fiction novel followed by Great Expectations.

    The novel was first published in his new literary periodical named All the Year Round.

    The primary focus of the novel is duality. And the greatness of it is how relevant it remained even after all these years. A Tale of Two Cities follows several protagonists, and if there is one message you can draw from the novel, it is that things aren’t always what they seem.

    There are many exciting plot points, the story is thrilling, and readers will be able to find exciting and useful messages hidden in it. The novel was written in English, but it wasn’t long before it was translated into numerous other languages.

    This is one of two historical fiction novels Dickens wrote, with the other one being Barnaby Rudge. The duality and dichotomy are also shown in the opening lines with many contrasting words.

    All about A Tale of Two Cities

    As with any other important classic, you can take a look at its parts and analyze what makes them special and unique.

    Main characters

    The protagonist of the novel is Charles Darnay. Charles is also a starting point of several plotlines, and he drives the story that connects to other characters. He is a Frenchman from a noble aristocratic family, and he faces charges of espionage.

    After some time, he decides to leave France and go to England. Along the way, he meets other important characters such as Dr. Alexandre Manette, Lucie Manette (daughter of Doctor Manette), Mr. Lorry, barrister Sydney Carton, Théophile Gabelle, John Barsad, and many others.

    There are numerous other characters that appear throughout the novel, and the book is separated into three parts: Book the First (Recalled to Life), Book the Second (The Golden Thread), and Book the Third (The Track of a Storm).

    Other characters include Marquis St. Evrémonde, Jarvis Lorry, Mr. Stryver, Monseigneur, Jerry Cruncher (who works at Tellson’s Bank), Miss Pross, The Vengeance, Ernest Defarge (Manette’s former servant), Roger Cly, and others.

    Overall theme

    If there is one theme that stands out in the novel, it’s duality. The reader will see the difference between Paris and London or England and France. But at the same time, the characters find themselves experiencing both good and bad in these cities.

    It also covers events that lead to the French Revolution and Reign of Terror, ever-present motives of resurrection, violence, and the difference between rich and poor. As such, A Tale of Two Cities is quite relevant to this day.

    Furthermore, we have a story of Charles Darnay trying to break out of chains that are his family legacy. He wants to be something different, better. At the same time, Madame Defarge tries to hold him accountable for crimes his father and uncle committed.

    Widespread symbolism

    One of the first symbols encountered in the novel also sets the scene for readers to know what to expect. The wine cask is powerful, and it is one of the most recognizable symbols in the novel.

    The broken wine cask outside Defarge’s wine shop shows the poverty of regular people. As the cask breaks and wine starts spilling on the pavement, people around it start drinking it by any means necessary.

    It shows the hunger normal people had, both physical and metaphorical. Yes, many of them were hungry, but they were also hungry for a different type of life. The one where they can freely drink wine whenever they please.

    The next symbol is hidden in knitting. It is a list of names of people that need to suffer in the name of the new republic. It shows vengefulness and violence. While the act of knitting might seem peaceful, Therese Defarge is actually sentencing people to death.

    Knitting is also similar to what Greek Moirai did. Lachesis was in charge of measuring the thread that would decide the fate of each person. Finally, a guillotine is an obvious sign of an impending doom and death. And these are just some of the many examples you will find once you start reading the book.

    A Tale of Two Cities – The movie

    With such a popular book that stayed relevant for over a century, it is expected to have a couple of adaptations, and there are many different versions you can encounter. The first version was a silent film from 1911, but the most popular one came out in 1935. The 1935 movie was directed by Jack Conway, and it has Ronald Colman and Elizabeth Allan as the main characters. The main difference between the movie and the book is the length.

    Since movies are generally shorter than books, some events had to be cut. Other than that, the story is the same, and there are no deviations. A Tale of Two Cities received positive reviews, and it was nominated for numerous awards.

    But it is far from being the only adaptation. The story by Dickens was also adapted into radio plays, TV shows, movies, and operas, and it even found its place in the theatre. But if you want to avoid spoilers, it’s always better to read the book first.

    Listen to A Tale of Two Cities on Speechify

    If you’re looking for a great way to experience the classic novel A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, then Speechify Audiobooks is the perfect platform for you. With Speechify, you can listen to the book being read aloud by a professional narrator, allowing you to immerse yourself in the story without having to read the text yourself. Speechify Audiobooks also features over 70,000 other audiobooks across various genres, ensuring you never run out of thrilling stories and classics to listen to while you’re commuting to work, taking a walk, or just relaxing at home. Sign up for Speechify Audiobooks today and enjoy your first premium audiobook for free.


    What is the story A Tale of Two Cities about?

    The story follows Dr. Manette (a former shoemaker) after being imprisoned for eighteen years in the Bastille. A Tale of Two Cities is focused on the French Revolution and the storming of the Bastille, and it is a historical novel written by Charles Dickens.

    What does the title of A Tale of Two Cities refer to?

    The name of Dickens’ novel refers to two cities, London and Paris. Dickens used various other sources to write the story, such as Thomas Carlyle. Many also mention the importance of a play Dickens was in, where the character sacrificed his own life.

    What does A Tale of Two Cities have to do with history?

    A Tale of Two Cities follows the story that leads to the French Revolution. It is also an important theme in the novel and one of many ways the book shows duality.

    The book also covers about numerous locations that exist in real life, such as the Old Bailey, the Saint Antoine district, Dover, The House of St. Barnabas (according to the Dickensian), and others. Other books by Dickens include Bleak House, Oliver Twist, Hard Times, and many more.

    Cliff Weitzman
    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.