Excessive Power Portrayed in a Tale of Two Cities

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“Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms. Sow the same seed of rapacious license and oppression over again, and it will surely yield the same fruit according to its kind” (3.15.1). In the first paragraph of the final chapter of the riveting A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens reinstates the idea that humanity’s ongoing suffering is not exclusive to the French Revolution, but is a theme that is prevalent wherever violence and injustice thrives. The revolution starts because of the misery and pain that the French aristocrats bestow upon the Third Estate, the peasants. However, the reign of newly formed, newly empowered French Republic, comprised of the oppressed Third Estate, turns into another tyrannical regime as they thirst for vengeance for themselves and their families. Analyzing Charles Dicken’s characterization and plot development of the Marquis St. Evrémonde and Madame Defarge in A Tale of Two Cities, readers can further understand the notable social commentary of how excessive power is capable of leading to violence and suffering. Although the Marquis St. Evrémonde appears in only three chapters in “Book Two: The Golden Thread”, he is critical to understanding the French aristocrats of the 18th century and their role in causing violence. Because he is the only true royal depicted in this novel, everything from his physical description to his actions represents the malevolence in other aristocrats. “A face of a transparent paleness; every feature in it clearly defined; one set expression on it…they gave a look of treachery, and cruelty, to the whole countenance” (2.7.15). The Marquis is depicted as callous and arrogant, with a fixed and unchanging expression, one that shows no mercy or compassion. Everything about him, in fact, is inhumane. Further evidence of his inhumanity shows on a certain night as his carriage races down a dark street, showing no consideration for others...
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