The Opening Line of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

six Charles Dickens books in green, blue and yellow

The first line of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Life, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way-in short, the period was so far the like present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Here, readers experience quite a long opening line of A Tale of Two Cities, packed with comparisons and deep reflection on both the past and the present time. Most people are familiar with these words from Dickens’ 1859 novel set during the French Revolution, which is the time period this quote refers to. This opening line explores different cities’-Paris and London, specifically-perspective on both past and current societal and personal happenings.

Julia Quade
Julia is a Web Content Writer for The Stake, where she is responsible for researching current topics and writing reviews and relevant blog posts. In 2017, she earned a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia with an emphasis in Magazine Editing. She currently resides in St. Louis.