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TIME SEQUENCE - TIMELINE
The series of events related in A Tale of Two Cities begins 18 years before the novel opens. Through flashbacks and narrations, Dickens eventually reveals these earlier events, weaving them into the ongoing action. Here is a chronological reconstruction of the complete story. Book and chapter references are given in parentheses.
Dr. Manette is recruited by the St. Evremonde brothers to treat a raped young woman and her wounded, dying brother. Attempting to publicize what he has witnessed, the doctor is imprisoned (III, 10).
Dr. Manette writes a journal account of his sufferings and hides it in his Bastille cell (III, 10).
Released to the care of Ernest Defarge, the doctor remains in a confused state. His daughter, Lucie, and the banker Jarvis Lorry carry him to London (I, 1-6).
Charles Darnay tried and acquitted of treason at the Old Bailey court in London (II, 2-4).
Peaceful Sunday at the Manettes' Soho residence. Lucie hears "hundreds of footsteps," signalling the approach of revolution in France (II, 6).
Driving in his carriage, Charles Darnay's uncle the Marquis St. Evremonde runs over and kills Gaspard's child. In the morning, St. Evremonde is found dead (II, 7-9).
Darnay and Stryver announce hopes of marrying Lucie. Carton swears love to her (II, 10-13). Roger Cly's funeral. Jerry Cruncher attempts to rob Cly's grave, but finds it empty (II, 14). In France the Defarges learn that Gaspard has been hanged. John Barsad appears as spy for the French monarchy (II, 15-16).
Lucie and Darnay marry; Dr. Manette lapses into amnesia (II, 17-19).
Birth of little Lucie (II, 21).
JULY 14, 1789
Storming of the Bastille; Defarge searches Dr. Manette's old cell. Start of French Revolution (II, 21).
Peasants burn St. Evremonde chateau (II, 23).
Darnay's return to France, and imprisonment in Paris (II, 24).
September Massacres. Lucie and her father arrive in Paris; Dr. Manette's influence protects Darnay from death at the hands of the mob (III, 2-4).
Darnay tried and acquitted at La Conciergerie (III, 6).