Montreal Dickens Fellowship Study Questions: “A Tale of Two Cities"
October 3, 2023
Book I, Chapters 1-6
- Dickens feared that what was happening in France could easily happen in England. How does he compare the two countries in these early chapters in terms of monarchy, violent unrest, religion, crime, justice, etc.?
- Describe how, in Mr. Lorry’s stormy coach-ride, Dickens’ tone of darkness, fear of violence, distrust, secrecy and mystery sets the stage for the novel.
- Dickens themes of mystery and secrecy have been attributed to his own preoccupation with secrecy in his personal life. (Hiding his relationship with his mistress Ellen Ternan) Comment.
- Dickens’ theme of secrecy and subterfuge are even described in a lighter vein in the character of Mr. Lorry. He pretends to be “all business” but is, in fact, very warm and compassionate toward Lucie and the Doctor. Discuss.
- Spilled wine foreshadows the spilling of blood to come. Describe how Dickens’ brilliant analogy and descriptions parallel the deprivation, wild passion and thirst for violence in the people of France. Find examples from the book containing “savage” imagery.
- How does Dickens use images of light and darkness to emphasize the contrast between good and evil. In terms of the darkness of the prison-like room? In terms of Lucie’s shining golden hair?
- There is a famous quote......... “I never met a character I hadn’t first met in a Dickens’ novel” This novel has been criticized for stressing the plot to the detriment of the characterizations. Do you think the characters are realistic? Have you met similar characters?
- Compare and contrast M. and Mme. Defarge in terms of emotion, determination, dangerousness.
- It has been suggested that golden-haired Ellen Ternan was Dickens‘ inspiration for Lucie. Lucie was her father’s salvation after years of imprisonment. Was Dickens “recalled to life” by Ellen after his long marriage?