A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens has remained in print for more than 150 years.
Dickens brings alive an important turning point in world history when the poor and disenfranchised prevailed against the status quo not only through his incredible gift with words, he succeeds by showing the reader the times through the characters' relationships with one another.
Through these relationships, he provides incredible plot twists and, throughout it all, the story resonates because it, too, stays true to the Universal Story.
The character who is most transformed by the dramatic action in this story -- though mostly by his love of Lucie -- is Sydney Carton.
1st Energetic Marker
The End of the Beginning scene hits at the 1/4 mark (off by 8 pages of my softcover book) when because of Carton's help, Charles Darnay is acquitted by the jury (NOTE: that Charles is first introduced during the trial is fitting and serves as terrific foreshadowing for the more intense trials he is subjected to much later in the story).
At this point in the story all the major elements are established: major characters introduced, the theme established, and every single major scene to come foreshadowed.
2nd Energetic Marker
Carton's recommitment scene could easily be considered the moment when after Darnay and Lucie marry, Carton declares his undying devotion to Lucie, thereby setting up the Climax at the end of the book and recommits to her even though she belongs to another. (This scene happens 14 pages off of the exact halfway point in the softcover book I'm using for my analysis).
3rd Energetic Marker
The Crisis (at exactly the 3/4 mark) is when Darnay is, for the second time, again taken as a prisoner of the Republic and Doctor Manette has been stripped of all influence to get him released. At this point, Carton takes center stage in the story and consciously begins the profound transformation he had unconsciously been undergoing since his recommitment scene.
4th Energetic Marker
I am not going to reveal the Climax in hopes that those of you who have never read Tale of Two Cities or read it so long ago you've forgotten the nuances that make the story truly great will read or reread it now and be as delighted as I was by the twists and turns and ultimate crowning glory.
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