Dickens’s Biography

Dickens’s Biography

Dickens's Timeline


Look at the timeline of events from the novel and from Dickens’s time more generally.

  • How many years into the past is Dickens looking for the setting of his novel?
  • Recall your previous conversation about Dickens’s possible reasons for setting his novel where and when he did. What events on the timeline give you additional perspective on his choice?

Dickens Biography Discussion

Work Time

Using your homework writing as a resource, plus any ideas that came up in the previous task, discuss the following with your classmates.

  • What seems most interesting about Dickens as a man?
  • Now that you know more about Dickens, what do you expect from this novel? What do you expect to be Dickens’s main concerns?

A Tale of Two Cities Introduction

Language in the First Lines

Work Time

Notice your reactions to these opening paragraphs and any questions you have about the text. Then add to your annotations with questions or comments.

  • In the first paragraph, what is the effect of the parallel construction of the sentences?
  • Again, in the first paragraph, Dickens presents us with a paradox . How can it have been both “the best of times and the worst of times”?
  • Use annotations to indicate ways in which that statement is proven true by circumstances described in the opening.

A Tale of Two Cities, Chapter 1


As you listen to the rest of the chapter read aloud, continue to annotate the text. Then consider the following questions and discuss them with the rest of the class.

  • What is Dickens’s tone in this opening chapter?
  • What are the troubles he describes in England and France?
  • In what sense is Fate “a Woodman” and Death “a Farmer”? What is the effect of those personifications on the tone of the text?
  • How does he foreshadow the coming revolution?