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50 A Tale of Two Cities Quotes From The Iconic Novel

These 50 A Tale of Two Cities quotes remain relevant and remarkable.

The novel contains one of the most well-known and brilliant opening lines, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This line sets up a story about duality, resurrection, and the nature of opposing forces.

Set in 1775 during the unrest that led to the American and French Revolutions, the story reminds us that every day we are faced with conditions that attempt to force us into seeing our reality in black and white terms. A difficult challenge for any person seeking growth is the ability to transcend polarity.

As long as we continue to see reality as “it’s either this or that” as opposed to “it’s this and that”, we continue to separate ourselves and our consciousness, limiting our experiences and perceptions.

a tale of two cities quotes

These memorable A Tale of Two Cities quotes invite us to see past the surface separation and see the inner unified vision.

  1. “Repression is the only lasting philosophy.”

2. “A multitude of people and yet a solitude.”

3. ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

4. “I am a disappointed drudge, sir. I care for no man on earth, and no man on earth cares for me.”

5. “A day wasted on others is not wasted on one’s self.”

6. “There is prodigious strength in sorrow and despair.”

7. “I am not old, but my young way was never the way to age. Enough of me.”

8. “Nothing that we do, is done in vain. I believe, with all my soul, that we shall see triumph.”

9. “There is a man who would give his life to keep a life you love beside you.”

10. “Liberty, equality, fraternity, or death; – the last, much the easiest to bestow, O Guillotine!”

Memorable A Tale of Two Cities Quotes

11. “Before I go,” he said, and paused — “I may kiss her?”

12. “Some pitying hand may find it there, when I and my sorrows are dust.”

13. “Vengeance and retribution require a long time; it is the rule.”

14. “Not knowing how he lost himself, or how he recovered himself, he may never feel certain of not losing himself again.”

15. “Then tell Wind and Fire where to stop,” returned madame; “but don’t tell me.”

16. “There is a great crowd coming one day into our lives, if that be so.”

17. “I love your daughter fondly, dearly, disinterestedly, devotedly. If ever there were love in the world, I love her.”

18. “Death may beget life, but oppression can beget nothing other than itself.”

19. “No more can I look into the depths of this unfathomable water, wherein, as momentary lights glanced into it, I have had glimpses of buried treasure and other things submerged. It was appointed that the book should shut with a spring, for ever and for ever, when I had read but a page.”

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20. “I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss. I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy. I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence.”

Poetic A Tale of Two Cities Quotes

21. “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.”

22. “For you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything. If my career were of that better kind that there was any opportunity or capacity of sacrifice in it, I would embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you.”

23. “Try to hold me in your mind, at some quiet times, as ardent and sincere in this one thing. The time will come, the time will not be long in coming, when new ties will be formed about you–ties that will bind you yet more tenderly and strongly to the home you so adorn–the dearest ties that will ever grace and gladden you.”

24. “O Miss Manette, when the little picture of a happy father’s face looks up in yours, when you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!”

25. “Sadly, sadly, the sun rose; it rose upon no sadder sight than the man of good abilities and good emotions, incapable of their directed exercise, incapable of his own help and his own happiness, sensible of the blight on him, and resigning himself to let it eat him away.”

26. “Since I knew you, I have been troubled by a remorse that I thought would never reproach me again, and have heard whispers from old voices impelling me upward, that I thought were silent for ever. I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight.”

27. “A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.”

28. “A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.”

29. “A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it!”

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30. “Something of the awfulness, even of Death itself, is referable to this. No more can I turn the leaves of this dear book that I loved, and vainly hope in time to read it all.”

A Tale of Two Cities Quotes that Draw You In

31. “It was appointed that the water should be locked in an eternal frost, when the light was playing on its surface, and I stood in ignorance on the shore.”

32. “My friend is dead, my neighbour is dead, my love, the darling of my soul, is dead; it is the inexorable consolidation and perpetuation of the secret that was always in that individuality, and which I shall carry in mine to my life’s end.”

33. “In any of the burial-places of this city through which I pass, is there a sleeper more inscrutable than its busy inhabitants are, in their innermost personality, to me, or than I am to them?”

34. “All through it, I have known myself to be quite undeserving. And yet I have had the weakness, and have still the weakness, to wish you to know with what a sudden mastery you kindled me, heap of ashes that I am, into fire- a fire, however, inseparable in its nature from myself, quickening nothing, lighting nothing, doing no service, idly burning away.”

35. “Sow the same seeds of rapacious licence and oppression over again, and it will surely yield the same fruit according to its kind.”

36. “Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms.”

37. “She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and to a Present beyond his misery: and the sound of her voice, the light of her face, the touch of her hand, had a strong beneficial influence with him almost always.”

38. “The faintness of the voice was pitiable and dreadful. It was not the faintness of physical weakness, though confinement and hard fare no doubt had their part in it. Its deplorable peculiarity was, that it was the faintness of solitude and disuse.”

39. “What private solicitude could rear itself against the deluge of the Year One of Liberty—the deluge rising from below, not falling from above, and with the windows of Heaven shut, not opened!”

40. “I am desperate. I don’t care an English Twopence for myself. I know that the longer I keep you here, the greater hope there is for my Ladybird.”

More A Tale of Two Cities Quotes

41. “As an emotion of the mind will express itself through any covering of the body, so the paleness which his situation engendered came through the brown upon his cheek, showing the soul to be stronger than the sun.”

42. “If you knew what a conflict goes on in the business mind, when the business mind is divided between good-natured impulse and business appearances, you would be amused, Mr. Darnay.”

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43. “These are mere business relations, miss; there is no friendship in them, no particular interest, nothing like sentiment.”

44. “I have passed from one to another, in the course of my business life, just as I pass from one of our customers to another in the course of my business day; in short, I have no feelings; I am a mere machine.”

45. “I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. I see her, an old woman, weeping for me on the anniversary of this day.”

46. “My husband, fellow-citizen, is a good Republican and a bold man; he has deserved well of the Republic, and possesses its confidence. But my husband has his weaknesses, and he is so weak as to relent towards this Doctor.”

47. “We have so asserted our station, both in the old time and in the modern time also… that I believe our name to be more detested than any name in France.”

48. “And who among the company at Monseigneur’s reception in that seventeen hundred and eightieth year of our Lord, could possibly doubt, that a system rooted in a frizzled hangman, powdered and gold-laced, pumped, and white-silk stockinged, would see the very stars out!”

49. “I, Alexandre Manette, unfortunate physician, native of Beauvais, and afterwards resident in Paris, write this melancholy paper in my doleful cell in the Bastille, during the last month of the year 1767.”

50. “I write it at stolen intervals, under every difficulty. I design to secrete it in the wall of the chimney, where I have slowly and laboriously made a place of concealment for it.”

Dickens does an amazing job of characterizing the men and women in his novel. If you were to characterize yourself, what traits would the reader see?

In the real world, we are not narrator gods, we cannot see directly into the minds and hearts of everyone. Is it possible to see the unity in other people and things that are so different?

Surely, it is as possible as experiencing the “best” and “worst” times simultaneously. Powerful transformations of our individual and collective experiences occur when we begin feeling and seeing the unity in all things, even those we have previously labeled negative or those that are too frightening or painful to acknowledge.

It is scary and it may require the death of old belief systems that no longer serve us. However, it is required for our transformation and allows us to make room for the resurrection or rebirth of new and improved versions of ourselves.

Reread these A Tale of Two Cities quotes or the novel any time.

Clifton Sankofa
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