A rowdy, bloodthirsty crowd gathers for the trial of "Charles Evrémonde, called Darnay." Defarge and Madame Defarge sit in the front row. Madame Defarge is knitting away. Charles is sentenced to death as an emigrant, despite the fact that the law was passed after his imprisonment. The crowd screams to cut off his head.
This is a court not of justice but of unchecked political passions. Charles's sentence is, in fact, a travesty of justice—the law shouldn't even apply to him. The crowd does not care about justice, though. It just wants the spectacle of his execution.
In his testimony, Charles explains that he actually isn't an emigrant: he gave up his aristocratic title and property, then worked as a French tutor and married a French woman: Lucie Manette. He says that he returned to France to save the life of a citizen of the Republic: Gabelle.
Charles finally explains who he is to the French people. By swearing that he is still a Frenchman, Charles offers himself as a positive, non-violent role model for change.
Gabelle, who had been forgotten in prison before the trial, takes the witness stand and confirms Charles's story. Then Dr. Manette testifies, praising Charles's character and republican ideals.
Gabelle was left for dead. Imprisonment is like the grave. Dr. Manette once again tries to use political tactics to free Charles.
The jury votes to acquit Charles. The boisterous crowd now celebrates Charles as a patriot and carries him through the streets in celebration.
Charles goes from death row to a public parade, floating on the fickle allegiance of the mob.
When she sees Charles, Lucie faints with joy. In their apartment, she thanks God, then her father, who declares, "I have saved him."
Dr. Manette's political influence seems to be enough to save Charles after all.