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Free Study Guide-A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens-Free BookNotes
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1. Compare and/or contrast the two main female figures in the novel - Madame Defarge and Lucie Manette.

2. Compare and/or contrast two significant male figures - Darnay and Sydney Carton?

3. Why is the novel a tragic comedy?

4. What is Dickens' idea of the ideal of manliness? Who in the book best represents this concept?

5. If Dickens critiques both the obscene excesses of the aristocracy and the excesses of the people during the revolution, is he even-handed, or does he sway the reader to siding with one? Explain your answer.

6. What is the role of servants in this novel?

7. Explain Carton as a Christ-figure in the book.

8. What is Mr. Lorry's role in the book?

9. Explain Dickens' attitude towards the revolution. How is it developed in the course of the novel?

10. Explain three significant ironies in the book and why they are important.

11. Explain Dickens' use of repetition in the novel, giving specific examples.

12. How is the theme of resurrection developed through the plot.

13. Contrast the cities of London and Paris as they are depicted in the novel.


The study of literature is not like the study of math or science, or even history. While those disciplines are based largely upon fact, the study of literature is based upon interpretation and analysis. There are no clear-cut answers in literature, outside of the factual information about an author's life and the basic information about setting and characterization in a piece of literature. The rest is a highly subjective reading of what an author has written; each person brings a different set of values and a different background to the reading. As a result, no two people see the piece of literature in exactly the same light, and few critics agree on everything about a book or an author.

In this study guide, we have tried to give an objective literary analysis based upon the information actually found in the novel, book, or play. In the end, however, it is an individual interpretation, but one that we feel can be readily supported by the information that is presented in the guide. In your course of literature study, you or your professor/teacher may come up with a different interpretation of the mood or the theme or the conflict. Your interpretation, if it can be logically supported with information contained within the piece of literature, is just as correct as ours; so is the interpretation of your teacher or professor.

Literature is simply not a black or white situation; instead, there are many gray areas that are open to varying analyses. Your task is to come up with your own analysis that you can logically defend. Hopefully, these booknotes will help you to accomplish that goal.

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