A Tale of Two Cities Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Looking for a way to spruce up your instruction on Charles Dickens' 'A Tale of Two Cities?' With this lesson plan, an in-class writing assignment opens the lesson, a video will support peer analysis of the book, and a worksheet based on our quiz will measure comprehension.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify the main characters of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities
  • summarize the events of the book
  • analyze primary themes of the book


2 - 2.5 hours

Curriculum Standards


Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.


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.


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.


Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature.


  • Copies of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • A worksheet created using the associated quiz


Note: This lesson is designed for students who have already read Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.

  • To begin, give the students 30-45 minutes in class to write a brief book report. This should include five sections: List and Descriptions of Major Characters, Summary of Key Events in Book 1, Summary of Key Events in Book 2, Summary of Key Events in Book 3, and Analysis of Major Themes.
  • When the students have finished their reports, have them swap papers with a classmate.
  • Play the video lesson A Tale of Two Cities: Dickens' Novel of the French Revolution, pausing at 2:56.
  • Now have the students review the characters section of their classmate's reports, underlining and/or noting any areas that need improvement.
  • Play the video lesson again and pause at 4:19.
  • Instruct the students to use what they've learned about Book 1 to provide feedback on their peer's paper, making an indication of areas that need improvement.
  • Play the video lesson. Pause it at 8:06.
  • Have the students critique their classmate's summary of Book 2 now, again making an indication of weaknesses and areas in need of improvement.
  • Play the lesson and pause it at 11:11.
  • Have the class review and critique the Book 3 summaries now.
  • Play the remainder of the lesson for the class.
  • Instruct the class to edit the Analysis of Major Themes section of their classmates' papers now before handing them back to their owners.

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