Category Archives: “A TALE OF TWO CITIES”


NOTE:  This entry is ONLY for Per 1, 2, and 3


A_tale_of_two_cities_1935_film_2Leave it to some goofy English teacher to make this connection.  Or perhaps consider it a question asked by a college admissions officer in your future.  Either way, prepare to take a giant leap of intellectual faith on this one [insert one well-timed Cheshire Cat grin here].

By this point in time, you’ve already sat back in your proverbial chair with an ah-gosh-sucks (or something like it) look upon your face.  Truly. You have.


Well, because you’ve waited your entire life to finally figure out WHY Dickens wrote the following at the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” (opening lines of Tale of Two Cities’ “Book the First: Recalled to Life”, page 5 in Mr. Long’s copy)

Your challenge:

  • Compare this quotation — one of the great quotations in all of literature — to your experience as a teenager and high school student.
  • 3+ paragraphs, 5+ sentences

Is it an intellectual leap of faith?  Sure.

And yet, not at all.

Take a look at the quotation more than once.  You’ll see what I mean.  Now all you have to do is take Dickens’ ideas — about the era of the French Revolution specifically — and see how they universally tie to the very act of being a 10th grader in the year 2008.

Bon chance, as one of Dicken’s French characters might say.



NOTE: This entry is ONLY for Per 1, 2 and 3


This is a wide open question for all of you who manage to read the first 50-ish pages of Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities (as you are supposed to do — he smiles) ahead of Monday’s class (so you can do this entry — he smiles, once again).

I’m curious what stood out FOR YOU on the “it grabbed my attention/interest” level with regards to the way the novel started:

  • The famous — oh, so famous, actually — opening lines of the novel?
  • History?
  • Writing Style?
  • Plot?
  • Characters?
  • Something else entirely?

Response: 3+ paragraphs, 5+ sentences each. If you get stuck, start with a quotation and then explain why it caught your eye (even if you aren’t entirely sure where it’ll lead story-wise in the 350 pages to come).