Montreal Dickens Fellowship Study Questions: “A Tale of Two Cities"
December 5, 2023
Book II, Chapters 10-21
- Compare Stryver, Darnay and Carton as suitors for Lucie.
- Carton believes it is too late to “recall” himself to life, even though he shows himself to be intelligent, hard-working and capable of strong love deep down. Do you think he has low self-esteem? Or do you believe he has the strongest, most moral love of all. He believes, he might ultimately hurt Lucie in the long run and sacrifices his happiness for hers not giving in to his baser desires. Compare his choice to that of Dickens who, in pursuing Ellen Ternan, selfishly gave in to his passions and caused much pain in others.
- What message is Dickens trying to give in his description of the rowdy crowd at the funeral scene?
- Jerry Cruncher is known as a resurrection man. Discuss the theme of resurrection in the novel.
- Dickens feared violence, seeing it as inevitable, leading to vengeance and more violence. The child’s senseless death, the stabbing of the marquis, and the execution of the child’s father show this escalation. Discuss non-violent alternate solutions. How would society today handle reckless driving, crimes of passion (temporary insanity), public executions and capital punishment?
- Compare the characters of M.and Mme. Defarge in terms of their feelings toward the revolution, Dr. Manette and Charles Darnay.
- Dickens often sets characters side by side to compare them. Lucie and her fathers’ tete-a-tete comes immediately after that of the Defarges. Compare and contrast their thoughts on vengeance and the future.
- Dickens description of psychological trauma in Dr. Manette leading to an amnestic dissociative state is fascinating. He used an almost identical device in his previous book little Dorrit . It is dramatic, bizarre, mysterious and heart breaking. Sure to sell books and have people talking! Comment.
- Do you agree with Mr. Lorry’s wanting to destroy the Doctor’s workbench and tools?
- Do you think Darnay likes Sydney Carton? In the beginning? After Lucie talks to him? Do you think he is jealous? If Lucie had not fallen for Charles first do you think Sydney and Lucie might have had a future together?
- Compare the calm of Soho to the turbulence of St. Antoine.
- How does Dickens use nature to convey his message? ( the violent, storm in London, the whirling waters of a raging sea in Paris)