It is the year 1775, and both France and England are experiencing widespread social unrest. The Dover mail-coach is stopped by Jerry Cruncher, an odd-job man who works for Tellson’s Bank. Jerry Cruncher has an important message for Jarvis Lorry. The message tells Lorry to wait at Dover for a young woman, and in response, Lorry sends the message “Recalled to Life,” which is a coded communication. At Dover, Lorry is introduced to Lucie Manette, a teenage orphan who has recently learned that her father, a once-eminent doctor who she believed to be deceased, has been found in France. Lucie is accompanied by Lorry on her trip to Paris, and while there, the two of them meet Defarge, a former servant of Doctor Manette who has been keeping Manette safe in a garret. Manette, who spent eighteen years incarcerated in the Bastille, has lost his mind and now spends all of his time manufacturing shoes, a pastime he picked up behind bars. Lucie is reassured by Lorry that her love and dedication can bring back to life her deceased father, and in fact, this comes to pass.
It is currently the year 1780. Charles Darnay is being investigated for allegedly committing treason against the British monarchy. A loud attorney by the name of Stryver argues Darnay’s case, but the court does not decide to exonerate Darnay until his colleague Sydney Carton, who is inebriated and does not contribute anything to the case, helps him. Carton clinches his case by pointing out that he himself has a striking similarity to the defendant. This throws a wrench into the prosecution’s attempt to prove that Darnay was obviously the spy that the authorities observed. Carton accompanies Darnay to a tavern that night and wonders how it feels to get the sympathy of a woman like Lucie. Lucie and Doctor Manette had witnessed the proceedings of the court while they were taking place. Carton despises and resents Darnay because Darnay constantly brings up everything that Carton has sacrificed and everything that he could have been.
A nasty man named Marquis Evremonde kills a plebeian youngster in France by running him over with his carriage. The Marquis does not exhibit any remorse, but instead curses the people and rushes home to his castle, where he waits for the arrival of his nephew, Darnay, who has travelled all the way from England. This behaviour was typical of the aristocracy at that time in relation to the lower classes. When Darnay finally arrives later that night, he expresses his disgust at his uncle and the French aristocracy for their appalling treatment of the common people. He declares his determination to go back to England and denounces his previous life as an Evremonde. The following evening, the Marquis is found dead; the assassin has left a message signed with the name “Jacques,” which was the alias given to revolutionaries in France.
After one year has passed, Darnay approaches Manette and asks for her blessing to marry Lucie. He tells Lucie that he will reveal his true identity to Manette if she agrees to the proposition. Carton, meanwhile, professes his love for Lucie and acknowledges that, despite the fact that his life is meaningless, she has inspired him to fantasise about a more fulfilling and significant existence. Jerry Cruncher is walking through the streets of London when he becomes entangled in the funeral procession for a spy named Roger Cly. Later on that evening, he puts his skills as a “Resurrection-Man” to the test by infiltrating the cemetery undetected in order to grab Cly’s body and sell it. In the meantime, an other English spy known as John Barsad makes a visit to the wine business owned by Defarge in Paris. Barsad has high hopes that he would be able to uncover information relating to the brewing revolution, which is currently in its hidden stages. In the back of the shop, where no one can see her, Madame Defarge is knitting a list of all of the people the revolution plans to have executed. Back in London, Darnay makes good on his promise to Manette by disclosing his true identity on the morning of the wedding they are about to share. That same night, Manette falls back into his old prison routine of manufacturing shoes. After a period of nine days, Manette regains his mental clarity and soon after joins his married daughter and her new husband on their honeymoon. Carton pays Darnay a visit after he has returned from his trip and seeks to be Darnay’s friend. Carton is given the assurance by Darnay that he can see them whenever he likes.
It is currently the year 1789. The beginning of the French Revolution is marked by the storming of the Bastille in Paris by the peasants. The revolutionaries are responsible for the execution of several aristocrats in public, and one of them, Gabelle, who was responsible for the upkeep of the Evremonde estate, is taken into custody. After three years, he writes to Darnay pleading for her to come to his rescue and save him. Darnay continues on his way to France despite the fact that there is a significant risk to his personal safety.
As soon as Darnay arrives in Paris, the revolutionaries of France place him under custody on the grounds that he is an emigrant. Lucie and Manette travel to Paris in the hopes of finding him there and rescuing him. Before Darnay will even be brought to trial, he will serve an additional year and three months behind bars. Manette exploits the significant influence he has garnered among the revolutionaries, who have compassion for him as a result of his time spent imprisoned in the Bastille, in order to assist in freeing him. Darnay is found not guilty and released, but later that night he is taken into custody once more. This time, the accusations are brought up by Defarge and his vindictive wife. Carton arrives in Paris with a plot to rescue Darnay and gains the assistance of John Barsad, who turns out to be Solomon Pross, the long-lost brother of Miss Pross, Lucie’s devoted servant. Together, they devise a way to free Darnay from Lucie’s clutches.
At the trial of Darnay, Defarge shows a letter that he found in Manette’s former cell in the Bastille. The trial is taking place in France. The letter describes the circumstances that led to Manette’s incarceration. Manette was called upon to provide medical aid many years ago by the brothers Evrémonde, who are Darnay’s father and uncle. They asked him to take care of a woman who had been raped by one of the brothers, as well as the brother of the woman who had been fatally stabbed by the same brother. The Evrémondes had Manette arrested out of fear that he might blow the whistle on their illegal activities. After hearing this account, the jury decides that Darnay should be punished for the actions of his ancestors and hands down a death sentence within the next twenty-four hours. That night, Carton overhears Madame Defarge scheming to have Lucie and her daughter (who is also Darnay’s daughter) assassinated as well at the wine business owned by the Defarges. It turns out that Madame Defarge is the last surviving sibling of the man and woman who were murdered by the Evrémondes. Carton makes the necessary arrangements for the Manette family’s prompt departure from France. After that, he pays a visit to Darnay when he is incarcerated, fools him into changing clothes with him, and then drugs his friend to unconsciousness after drafting a letter of explanation. While Barsad leads Darnay, who is now dressed as Carton, to an awaiting carriage, Darnay, who is disguised as Carton, waits to be put to death. Madame Defarge arrives at Lucie’s apartment in the hopes of placing an arrest warrant for her while Darnay, Lucie, their kid, and Dr. Manette race away from Paris. There, she comes face to face with the extremely guardian Miss Pross. A fight breaks out, and Madame Defarge ends up shooting herself in the head with the gun she was carrying. The narrator is certain that Sydney Carton passes away with the understanding that he has finally endowed his life with significance when he is executed by the guillotine. This is the assertion that the narrator makes.