Chris Adcock
English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Grade 11 ELA
  • Identity
  • Technology
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Chapter Titles Exploration

    Chapter Titles Exploration


    In this lesson, students will explore the titles of the chapters and the way that they echo a central pattern, or motif, in the novel.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
    • Create partner groups as you determine appropriate.
    • Create small groups of three or four of mixed ability.

    Archetypes Quick Write

    • Introduce students to the idea of archetype. An archetype is a recurring symbol or image in literature, one that has become so common that it seems part of human experience. Here, as in many pieces of literature and art, Death and Rebirth are archetypes. SWD: Make explicit the connection between the term archetype and the Quick Write prompt for students who struggle with making inferences. Remind students of the discussion of metaphors earlier in the unit. Archetypes and metaphors serve similar purposes; like stereotypes, they serve as a shortcut for the writer.
    • If necessary, suggest other images that are frequently used to show death and rebirth: sunrise/sunset, sleeping/waking, sickness/healing, dirty/cleansed (washing as rebirth), naming/renaming (as ways of being born).
    • As needed, review with students the quotation: “Recalled to life.”
    • Anticipate that students may have some difficulty with the concept of an archetype. Decide how much time you have to spend on that issue in view of other matters in the lesson.
    • Consider using a similar concept, stereotype, as a way of helping students understand this new term.
    • Remind students of the discussion of caricatures from earlier in the unit. How are caricatures and stereotypes used by Dickens? How are they similar, and how are they different?


    The titles of Chapters 11 and 12 suggest the coming of night or darkness—“Dusk” and “Darkness.” The image of the sun going down pairs with the idea of the sun coming up—as one day ends, another begins.

    As you may remember from the opening chapters of the novel, Dickens has given us a number of images of death and rebirth. In these chapters, Lucie faints, and Carton says, “Don’t recall her to herself.”

    Listen as your teacher defines the term archetype , then complete a Quick Write about the following.

    • How do Carton’s words intentionally echo the code that Jerry delivers?

    Open Notebook

    Death and Rebirth in the Novel

    • Direct students to form pairs and make a list of images/symbols of death and rebirth/birth.
    • They should be able to come up with most of the following things dead/born/reborn:
      • ✓ Solomon back to Pross
      • ✓ Manette back from prison
      • ✓ Manette back and forth from “madness”
      • ✓ Cly back from not really being dead
      • ✓ Carton (sort of) back from being out of the book
      • ✓ Darnay back from trials/prison twice (though now back in it)
      • ✓ Manette born again with new importance post Revolution—a new government
      • ✓ Graves dug up
      • ✓ Letter dug up, once buried
      • ✓ Deaths of young boy in village, dead aristocrats, death of people at the hands of aristocrats
      • ✓ Sunrise morning after Marquis is murdered
    • Solicit the list of death and birth/rebirth images and symbols in the novel from the partner groups. Add to the students’ list any that you think are important for them to notice.
    • If time permits, and if students have not already gone there, connect the idea of new starts to the Revolution—a country making a new start. Connect the new start idea to the various characters—Manette’s new life, Darnay’s new identity in England, etc. Encourage students to see that renewal is a central motif of the novel.
    • ELL: Review the meaning of the term motif and ask students to explain how the symbols that Dickens uses illustrate the idea of renewal. You can also ask students to brainstorm other metaphors for renewal used in English or their primary language.

    Work Time

    Join a partner as directed and do the following.

    • Building on the ideas from the previous task, brainstorm with your partner to make a list of as many of the death and birth images/symbols in the novel as you can think of.

    Open Notebook

    Share with your class the death and birth images and symbols you have found.

    Darkness Quick Write

    • Read aloud the passage in which Madame DeFarge reveals that she is the sister and announces her lust for revenge, from “‘See you then, Jacques,’ said Madame Defarge, wrathfully” to “‘Then tell Wind and Fire where to stop,’ returned Madame, ‘but don’t tell me.’”
    • If time permits, remind students of the comparisons to nature that Madame DeFarge used earlier to talk about the power of the Revolution. Invite them to compare the metaphorical references to wind and fire here.

    Work Time

    Of course, the chapter title “Darkness” can also refer to the anger of Madame Defarge.

    Listen and read along as your teacher reads the passage about Madame Defarge, then complete a Quick Write about the following.

    • Do you have sympathy for Madame Defarge now?
    • Do you think revenge is ever justified?

    Open Notebook

    What and Who Is a Villain?

    • Encourage students first to share examples of their favorite villains from other books, films, or television. Then divide the class into small groups of three or four students. Urge them to push farther into the general idea of a great villain, then to examine the candidates from the novel.
    • If they have additional candidates to suggest, encourage them to do so.
    • After the available time is up, ask students to decide which of the characters listed would best fit their idea of a villain.


    Think about characteristics that make a great villain. Is it just their evil qualities, or is there something more that make villains interesting?

    This novel seems to have several possible villains. With that in mind, join a group as directed and do the following.

    • Discuss further with your group the idea of a great villain.
    • Then, using references to the text to support your opinion, explain which of the following would be considered the best example of a villain.
      • The older Evrémonde (Darnay’s father)
      • The younger Evrémonde (Darnay’s uncle, whom we met at the start of the novel)
      • Madame Defarge

    Book III, Chapters 13 and 14

    • Remind students to read and annotate carefully.
    • Introduce Responding to A Tale of Two Cities that students will do in the final lesson, when they have completed the reading. Let them know that while they may discover new material that they wish to use, they will be well served by beginning their inquiry and searching for resources now. SWD: Clarify for students who need extra support that they will do the writing in the final lesson, but that they need to start preparing to write ahead of time. Model the prewriting process, and provide a rubric for the writing they will be asked to produce to clarify the criteria for successful completion. Students who struggle with written expression may benefit from practicing outlining ideas to prepare for writing-based assessment.
    • Read/project/display the following excerpt from the Reflection prompt they will write in after they complete the novel:
      • ✓ Using at least three examples from the novel, explain how reading A Tale of Two Cities has helped you think about what it means to be a citizen in your current world, or how reading the novel has helped you think about your own values.
      • ✓ The examples that you use can be either direct quotations or references to the plot, as your teacher directs. ELL: Check for understanding, and clarify that this assignment is directing students to look for citations in the text that support the explanation that they will write in the Reflection at the end of the lesson.


    • Read Book III, Chapters 13 and 14 of A Tale of Two Cities and annotate for key ideas, personal reactions, questions, and vocabulary.
    • Read the assignment, Responding to A Tale of Two Cities. In preparation for the written reflection you will write after completing the novel, as directed, begin to look for resources that you need for that writing.