Roles of Important Characters in a Tale of Two Cities

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Roles of Important Characters in a Tale of Two Cities
The novel by Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, features some of the most well-known and symbolic characters in literary history. One major antagonist, Madame Defarge, embodies the cruelty and hatred that was rampant during the French Revolution. Sydney Carton, undoubtedly the most important character in the novel, developing throughout the novel originating as an unmotivated, drunk attorney but commits the ultimate act of kindness when he gives his life to preserve the life of his friends. In the final scene of the novel, “the Seamstress” is introduced. “The Seamstress” provides a further example of the injustice of the revolutionaries as well as aides Carton in achieving his Christ-like sacrifice. These three characters play an important role in the novel by portraying the three main themes of novel: violence and cruelty, death and resurrection, and sacrifice.

The first of the three themes, violence and cruelty, is portrayed by the merciless Madame Defarge. In the beginning of the novel, Madame Defarge resides above her husband’s wine shop knitting the names of those registered to be executed once the revolution has commenced. The innocent act of knitting is twisted by Madame Defarge to symbolize her lust for vengeance as see knits “in her own stitches and her own symbols” that will later allow her to recall the people registered to die (132). Furthermore, the bloodlust of Madame Defarge and the other revolutionaries stems from the ruthless oppression of peasants by the French aristocrats. Similarly, Madame Defarge expresses aggression towards Charles Darnay, one of the main characters in the novel. Darnay is a French aristocrat who moved to England and renounced his name of Evrémonde due to the horrible injustices performed by his uncle and father. These injustices became the source of Madame Defarge’s aggression when one of the Evrémonde brothers raped Defarge’s sister and then stabbed her...
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