Definition of A Tale of Two Cities from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary


A Tale of Two Cities

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a novel (1859) by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris at the time of the French Revolution. Charles Darnay is a young French aristocrat who disagrees with the cruel way his family has been treating poor people. He moves to London and falls in love with Lucie, the daughter of an old doctor who had been put in prison by Darnay's family. Darnay marries Lucie before going back to France to rescue an old servant, but he is arrested there and condemned to death. He is saved by an Englishman, Sidney Carton, who is also in love with Lucie. The two men look very similar, and Sidney takes Charles's place on the scaffold (= the structure on which people are killed in public). The book ends with his thoughts as he walks to his death, which form one of the most famous sentences in English literature:
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.