The prevailing mood in A Tale of Two Cities is one of ominous anticipation. Dickens’s heavy use of foreshadowing prepares readers for the violence to come and cautions them about the harmful effects of exploiting the poor and seeking vengeance. Dickens establishes this mood in the very opening pages of the novel, as he describes the corruption of the clergy, alludes to the rising unrest in France and England, and hints at devastation that will follow.
However, glimmers of hope temper the novel’s general sense of foreboding. Through altruistic sacrifice, characters like Lucie Manette and Sydney Carton are able to recall others to life; Lucie’s healing influence restores her father’s mental capacity, and Carton’s execution allows Lucie’s family to live in peace and prosperity. In moment like these, the novel’s mood is optimistic.