“IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
The opening paragraph sets the tone for the novel and the theme of duality. Opposites struggle for equilibrium and the use of anaphora as well as the rhythm gives support to this idea present throughout the rest of the book just as it is present in our lives. The capitalization of the first two words tie in with the title, A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens deliberately creates everything into opposites and the theme of two and gradually progresses into greater extremes from wisdom versus foolishness to Heaven versus Hell. The one-sentence paragraph is an introduction to a novel that highlights polar opposites in the French Revolution and the whole picture rather than a single side.