1. Education

'A Tale of Two Cities' Quotes

Charles Dickens - Classic Novel, French Revolution

By

A Tale of Two Cities is a dense classic, often studied in classrooms. Charles Dickens published the work late in his career as a popular novelist in Victorian England. The backdrop of A Tale of Two Cities is the French Revolution; and a whole myriad of colorful characters are in attendance (as is usual for the works of Charles Dickens). Here are a few quotes from the literary master.
  • "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."
    - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 1, Chapter 1

  • "Jerry, say that my answer was, 'RECALLED TO LIFE.'"
    - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 1, Chapter 2

  • "Eighteen years! Gracious Creator of day! To be buried alive for eighteen years!"
    - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 1, Chapter 3

  • "She had laid her head upon my shoulder, that night when I was summoned out--she had a fear of my going, though I had none--and when I was brought to the North Tower they found these upon my sleeve. 'You will leave me them? They can never help me to escape in the body, though they may in the spirit.' Those words I said. I remember them very well.'"
    - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 1, Chapter 6

  • "If, when I tell you, dearest dear, that your agony is over, and that I have come here to take you from it, and that we go to England to be at peace and at rest, I cause you to think of your useful life laid waste, and of our native France so wicked to you, weep for it, weep for it! And if, when I shall tell you of my name, and of my father who is living, and of my mother who is dead, you learn that I have to kneel to my honoured father, and implore his pardon for never having for his sake striven all day and lain awake and wept all night, because the love of my poor mother hid his torture from me, weep for it, weep for it! Weep for her, then, and for me! Good gentlemen, thank God! I feel his sacred tears upon my face, and his sobs strike against my heart. O, see! Thank God for us, thank God!"
    - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 1, Chapter 6

  • "All through the cold and restless interval, until, dawn, they once more whispered in the ears of Mr. Jarvis Lorry--sitting opposite the buried man who had been dug out, and wondering what subtle powers were forever lost to him, and what were capable of restoration--the old inquiry: 'I hope you care to be recalled to life?"
    - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 1, Chapter 6

  • "But indeed, at that time, putting to death was a recipe much in vogue with all trades and professions, and not least of all with Tellson's. Death is Nature's remedy for all things, and why not Legislation's? Accordingly, the forger was put to Death; the utterer of a bad note was put to Death; the unlawful opener of a letter was put to Death; the purloiner of forty shillings and sixpence was put to death; the holder of a horse at Tellson's door, who made off with it, was put to Death; the coiner of a bad schilling was put to Death; the sounders of three-fourths of the notes in the whole gamut of Crime, were put to Death. Not that it did the least good in the way of prevention--it might almost have been worth remarking that the fact was exactly the reverse--but, it cleared off (as to this world) the trouble of each particular case, and left nothing else connected with it to be looked after."
    - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 2, Chapter 1

  • "I won't be gone again, in this manner. I am as rickety as a hackney-coach, I'm as sleepy as laudanum, my lines is strained to that degree that I shouldn't know, if it wasn't for the pain in 'em, which was me and which was somebody else, yet I'm none the better for it in pocket; and it's my suspicion that you've been at it from morning to night to prevent me from being better for it in the pocket, and I won't put up with it, Aggerawayter, and what do you say now!"
    - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 2, Chapter 1

  • "Waste forces within him, and a desert all around, this man stood still on his way across a silent terrace, and saw for a moment, lying in the wilderness before him, a mirage of honorable ambition, self-denial, and perseverance. In the fair city of this vision, there were airy galleries from which the loves and graces looked upon him, gardens in which the fruits of life hung ripening, waters of Hope that sparkled in his sight. A moment, and it was gone. Climbing to a high chamber in a well of houses, he threw himself down in his clothes on a neglected bed, and its pillow was wet with wasted tears."
    - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 2, Chapter 5

  • "I have sometimes sat alone here of an evening, listening, until I have made the echoes out to be the echoes of all the footsteps that are coming by and by into our lives."
    - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 2, Chapter 6
  • "There is a great crowd coming one day into our lives, if that be so."
    - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 2, Chapter 6

  • "What a night it has been! Almost a night, Jerry, to bring the dead out of their graves."
    - Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, Book 2, Chapter 6

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.