I see that child who lay upon her bosom and who bore my name, a man winning his way up in that path of life which once was mine. I see him winning it so well, that my name is made illustrious there by the light of his. I see the blots I threw upon it, faded away. I see him, fore-most of just judges and honoured men, bringing a boy of my name, with a forehead that I know and golden hair, to this place—then fair to look upon, with not a trace of this day's disfigurement—and I hear him tell the child my story, with a tender and a faltering voice.
Dickens's novel is built around a great and stable love story, although as he wrote, his own marriage was failing spectacularly. Dickens was unhappily married to Catherine Hogarth, and he met and fell in love with a young actress named Ellen Ternan while he was acting in Wilkie Collins's play. This situation proved to be the final disaster in his marriage, and he separated from Catherine Hogarth in 1859. This unusual split, along with some well-publicized affairs that came afterward, increased the author's' notoriety but decreased his popularity somewhat towards the end of his life.
Andre Sennwald wrote in the New York Times of December 26, 1935: "Having given us 'David Copperfield', Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer now heaps up more Dickensian magic with a prodigally stirring production of 'A Tale of Two Cities' ... For more than two hours it crowds the screen with beauty and excitement, sparing nothing in its recital of the Englishmen who were caught up in the blood and terror of the French Revolution ... The drama achieves a crisis of extraordinary effectiveness at the guillotine, leaving the audience quivering under its emotional sledge-hammer blows ... Ronald Colman gives his ablest performance in years as Sydney Carton and a score of excellent players are at their best in it ... Only Donald Woods's Darnay is inferior, an unpleasant study in juvenile virtue. It struck me, too, that Blanche Yurka was guilty of tearing an emotion to tatters in the rôle of Madame Defarge ... you can be sure that 'A Tale of Two Cities' will cause a vast rearranging of ten-best lists."