English Language Arts, Reading Literature
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • 18th Century
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • Grade 11 ELA
  • Women
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Mythical Avengers

    Mythical Avengers


    In this lesson, you will talk about the way that Dickens cries out for justice. You will begin by looking at mythical avengers.

    In this lesson, students will talk about the way that Dickens cries out for justice. They will begin by looking at mythical avengers.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
    • Create appropriate partner groups.
    • Find The Remorse of Orestes or another image of the Furies and share it with your students.

    Furies Quick Write

    • Explain who the Furies are—mythic goddesses of vengeance and retribution—seeking to punish people for crimes.
    • Show your students The Remorse of Orestes or another image of the Furies.
    • Consider pointing out to the students that we say people “infuriate” us.
    • If they are interested, you can tell them to explore the various versions of the myth of Orestes independently.


    Look at the image of the Furies. It is a representation of the Ancient Greek characters who, in one story, chased after Orestes to punish him for what he had done.

    • In a few sentences, write down the feelings that you have when you look at the image.
    • Do you find yourself sympathizing with the Furies or with the young man, Orestes?

    Open Notebook

    Furies Response

    • Allow students the opportunity to share their reactions to the image.
    • Facilitate an introductory conversation about avengers and just punishment. ELL: The word just in this context means “having to do with justice”; help ELLs interpret the context, and clarify this use of just compared to its use to mean only or simply.

    Work Time

    When directed, join the rest of the class in a conversation about the image of the Furies.

    • Share your responses to the image.
    • What, for you, is just punishment?
    • Should a punishment fit the crime? Is that justice?

    The First Monseigneur

    • “The burst with which the carriage started … gnats ... the Furies … dim distance” (Book II, Chapter 8, about three pages in).
    • "The valet had put her away … Furies … between him and his chateau” (Book II, Chapter 8, about four pages in).
    • Read the passages aloud, allow students time to write responses, and then facilitate a discussion of the questions.

    Work Time

    Dickens makes several allusions to the Furies, the goddesses of vengeance and retribution you just discussed. As your teacher directs, read aloud the passages that refer to the Furies in these chapters, then independently answer the following questions.

    • If the Furies seek retribution or potential justice, then what are the crimes and injustices that Dickens is suggesting here?
    • What has Monseigneur the Marquis done wrong?
    • What is your impression of the Marquis’s interactions with the peasants and the little boy? What textual evidence supports your thinking?
    • What sort of character does the Marquis reveal when he meets the widow? What evidence supports your thinking?

    Open Notebook

    Discuss your responses with the class.

    Monseigneur Small Group Work

    Introduce the Small Group Work Responsibilities model.

    • Leader: The leader is in charge of making sure the tasks of the day get accomplished. It is the leader’s task to figure out what needs to be done and to make sure the group stays on track.
    • Note Taker: The note taker is in charge of taking notes during the group’s discussion and summarizing what the group has talked about.

    SWD: For students who would benefit from having a copy of the notes, the note taker for the group can share his or her notes at the end of the activity.

    • Reporter: The reporter is in charge of reporting what the group has talked about to the class or to the teacher.
    • Timekeeper: The timekeeper is in charge of watching the clock and making sure the group spends the right amount of time for each task.
    • Lead the students through the reading of the paragraphs, making sure that they understand important vocabulary and main ideas. Then, guide them through the responses to the questions.


    You will most likely need to spend some time clarifying the difference between Monseigneur the Marquis and the Monseigneur with the chocolate.

    ELL: Check that students understand the word signal in this context.

    • Explain and discuss the Biblical allusion at the end of the fourth paragraph (Psalm 24). Some students may be unfamiliar with the reference and will need some additional background. Others may have some resistance to the relationship of texts, so use an objective approach and be clear that the Bible is a source of many literary allusions.
    • If time permits, consider taking time to look at the paragraph in which their relationship by marriage is explained. What students need most is to understand that the Monseigneur Marquis is an aristocrat in the countryside and the Monseigneur with the chocolate is part of the court in Paris.
    • As you discuss the unjust ways and the chocolate, consider extending the conversation to the other injustices in the novel. Encourage the students to use text support as they explain the injustices they have noted.

    Work Time

    There is another character you might find “infuriating.” Join a small group as directed and designate roles for the work in the group. Read aloud the opening two to four paragraphs of Chapter 7, highlighting sections that characterize the other Monseigneur (the one who lives in town). Then respond to the following questions.

    • Using specific words and phrases from these paragraphs to explain your interpretation, explain what Dickens seems to think of the Monseigneur with the chocolate.
    • How might the Monseigneur with his chocolate and the other nobles who govern France signal injustice?
    • How is the chocolate a symbol here?
    • At the end of the fourth paragraph, there is a Biblical allusion. How does the use of religious language help Dickens establish the character of this noble?

    Monseigneur Quick Write

    • Allow a few moments for students to write down their ideas. Then, as you review the quotation with the students, help them to understand the reasons that disease is an appropriate metaphor for political corruption.
    • Provide information about leprosy and its literal and metaphorical meanings. You can ask, “It is frequently referred to in the Bible; why does Dickens use it here?”


    In a few sentences, write down your interpretation of the following quotation in a Quick Write.

    • “The leprosy of unreality disfigured every human creature in attendance upon Monseigneur.”

    Open Notebook

    Share your thoughts with the rest of the class.

    Book II, Chapter 9

    • As always, remind students to read and annotate carefully.
    • Consider asking individual students to volunteer their annotations for a specific section of text.
    • SWD: If you have students who are only listening to the audio version of the text, this is a good point to schedule check ins to make sure that they are keeping up and understanding what they hear.


    • Read Book II, Chapter 9 in A Tale of Two Cities .
    • Annotate for key ideas, personal reactions, questions, and vocabulary.