A Tale of Two Cities Summary
Lesson Plan Reference
Grade Level 9-10
Difficulty Level 2 (Reinforcing / Developing)
Type of Assignment Individual or Group
Type of Activity: Plot Diagrams and Narrative ArcsCommon Core Standards
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/3] Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/5] Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise
A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and helps students develop greater understanding of literary structures.
Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
Example A Tale of Two Cities Plot Diagram
In 1775, Mr. Lorry, a London banker, is meeting a woman named Lucie Manette to take her to see her father, a French doctor, who has been released from prison after 18 years. The novel moves forward to 1780 where a man named Charles Darnay is being tried for treason. Lucie and Lorry are both witnesses for the prosecution, but when defense attorney Mr. Stryver points out the strong resemblance between his assistant Sydney Carton and Darnay, the jury acquits Darnay due to reasonable doubt.
Darnay and Lucie quickly fall in love, and he endears himself to Dr. Manette. Darnay, however, is not who he says he is: he is actually a French nobleman, the son of the Marquis St. Evrémonde, but he has renounced his family name. While Darnay is building a family and home in England with Lucie, the French peasants continue to revolt. In particular, Saint Antoine wine shop owners Ernest and Madame Defarge are leaders in the revolt.
On July 14, 1789, the revolutionaries storm the Bastille fortress. Defarge goes to the cell where Dr. Manette had been held and searches for something. Shortly after, the Marquis’ chateau burns down and the peasants arrest Monsieur Gabelle, the tax collector and caretaker. He writes to Darnay asking for help. Darnay decides to return to France in secret, so as not to worry Lucie.
Darnay is arrested in France and imprisoned in La Force. The revolutionaries figured out that he is actually the Marquis St. Evrémonde. Lucie and Dr. Manette arrive and visit Mr. Lorry at the Tellson’s location. Dr. Manette is a martyr for the cause because of his time in the Bastille. He uses this to try to get Charles out of prison, but he remains there for another year and three months. He is acquitted of his charges, but is soon re-arrested before he can go back to England.
Miss Pross and Jerry Cruncher come across Miss Pross’ brother Solomon, who now goes by John Barsad. Sydney Carton appears and blackmails Barsad into helping him get in to see Charles in prison. He knows that Roger Cly is still alive and that Barsad is spying for both the revolutionaries and the English government. At the next trial, Charles is sentenced to death because his father and uncle raped Madame Defarge’s sister, and killed her brother-in-law and brother.
Dr. Manette was asked to help save Madame Defarge’s sister and hears the story, so he writes a letter about the Marquis’ crimes to the Minister of State. He is imprisoned afterward. Madame Defarge tries to kill Lucie and her daughter, but is shot by Miss Pross. Meanwhile, right before Charles’ execution, Carton drugs him and switches places with Charles, sacrificing his own life instead, finally finding a sense of purpose in his life.
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)
Create a visual plot diagram of A Tale of Two Cities.
- Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
- Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
- Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.
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