The “two cities” are London and Paris in the
time of the French Revolution. Dr. Manette, a French physician, having been
called in to treat a young peasant and his sister, realizes that they have been
cruelly abused by the Marquis de St. Evremonde and his brother. To ensure Dr.
Manette’s silence, the Marquis has him confined for eighteen years in the
Bastille. The doctor has just been released, demented, when the story opens.
is brought to England, where he gradually recovers his health and his sanity. Charles
Darnay, concealing under that false name his identity as the nephew of the
cruel Marquis, has left France and renounced his heritage. He falls in love
with Lucie, Dr. Manette’s daughter, and they are happily married. During the
Terror, he goes to Paris to save a servant condemned by the mob. Darnay himself
is arrested, condemned to death, and is saved at the last moment by Sydney
Carton, a reckless wastrel who acts out of devotion to Lucie. Carton smuggles
Darnay out of prison and takes his place on the scaffold, declaring “It’s a
far, far better thing I do than I have ever done before,” which has become one
of the most quoted lines in all the history of literature.
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