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Free Barron's Booknotes-A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens-Summary
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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.

DECEMBER 1757

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).

DECEMBER 1767

Dr. Manette writes a journal account of his sufferings and hides it in his Bastille cell (III, 10).

NOVEMBER 1775

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).


MARCH 1780

Charles Darnay tried and acquitted of treason at the Old Bailey court in London (II, 2-4).

JULY 1780

Peaceful Sunday at the Manettes' Soho residence. Lucie hears "hundreds of footsteps," signalling the approach of revolution in France (II, 6).

SUMMER 1780

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).

SUMMER 1781

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).

1781

Lucie and Darnay marry; Dr. Manette lapses into amnesia (II, 17-19).

1783

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).

JULY 1789

Peasants burn St. Evremonde chateau (II, 23).

AUGUST 1792

Darnay's return to France, and imprisonment in Paris (II, 24).

SEPTEMBER 1792

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).

DECEMBER 1793

Darnay tried and acquitted at La Conciergerie (III, 6).
Darnay rearrested same night, through Defarge's influence (III, 7).
John Barsad revealed as Solomon Pross, Miss Pross' missing brother; Sydney Carton exposes him as spy of the Revolutionary prisons and blackmails him into helping Carton (III, 8).
Darnay's second trial; evidence from Dr. Manette's journal condemns him to die (III, 9- 10).
Carton takes Darnay's place in La Conciergerie; Darnay party flees France (III, 13).
Madame Defarge killed; Miss Pross deafened (III, 14). Carton dies on guillotine (III, 15).

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