In a brief note, Dickens mentions the source of inspiration for A Tale of Two Cities: a play in which he acted, called The Frozen Deep, written by his friend Wilkie Collins. He adds that he hopes that he can further his readers’ understanding of the French Revolution—“that terrible time”—but that no one can truly hope to surpass Thomas Carlyle’s The French Revolution (published in 1837).
I found a great summary trailer of A Tale of Two Cities on Youtube! >> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LA10a83qY6A
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The paragraph about the theme that sacrifice is necessary is written like the writer believes the violence of the French Revolution (like the guillotine) was necessary, but to me it seemed like Dickens was clearly condemning the violence, if not the revolution itself. It also uses what Mrs. Defarge said to her husband, but she's a villain in the story, and I don't think we should be taking her word for it.