Dramatic courtroom scenes are a thrilling part of many plays, movies, and books — and classic literature is no exception. In A Tale of Two Cities
, French aristocrat Charles Darnay is falsely accused of treason and faces swift trial. If found guilty, he'll be drawn and quartered — that is, he'll be hanged until "almost" dead, eviscerated (guts cut out) while still alive, beheaded, and chopped into four pieces. Gross . . . and ouch!
The trial begins with the Attorney-General's long and meandering statement of the treason charges against Darnay. Darnay's lawyer, Mr. Stryver, tries to discredit the prosecution's two star witnesses — John Barsad and Roger Cly.
The turning point in the trial comes when Stryver's associate, Sydney Carton, alerts him to the remarkable physical resemblance between himself (Carton) and Darnay. Stryver then dramatically calls attention to the resemblance during the questioning of another witness for the prosecution, casting doubt onto the man's testimony. Stryver concludes the case with witnesses and a summation that paint Barsad as the spy and traitor and Cly as his accomplice. Darnay is found innocent and is freed to leave.
Darnay's troubles aren't over, though. In Book the Third, he is once again falsely arrested and, this time, found guilty. And, once again, Carton comes to the rescue. To find out how, you'll just have to read the book!