A Tale of Two Cities

By Charles Dickens


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

These famous lines, which open A Tale of Two Cities, hint at the novel’s central tension between ""love and family",on the one hand, and "oppression and hatred", on the other.

This technique, along with the passage’s steady rhythm, suggests that "good and evil", "wisdom and folly",and "light and darkness" stand equally matched in their struggle.

"In 1775, as in the 1850s, England and France can only be described in "the superlative degree of comparison," such as "best" and "worst." Both are ruled by "a king with a large jaw"; England's queen is "plain," and France's is "fair.""

England is fascinated by spiritualism, and her American colonies are causing trouble.

France is dealing with economic problems.

In England, no one is safe on the roads, and a warning is issued to families to store their furniture when they leave their houses so that they will not be robbed while they're gone.

In France, a youth doesn't kneel for monks passing 60 yards away; as a punishment, his hands are cut off, his tongue is torn out, and he is burnt alive. Both countries employ capital punishment to discourage crime and quell unrest.