A Tale of Two Cities

Topics: A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens, French Revolution Pages: 2 (624 words) Published: May 21, 2013
The Effect of Madame Defarge on the Theme of “A Tale of Two Cities”
“In revenge and in love woman is more barbaric than man is” (Friedrich Nietzsche). Revenge is the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for a wrong suffered at their hands. In the novel “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens, the French Revolution is the result of the peasants’ desire for revenge. This desire of theirs is initiated by Madame Defarge due to her longing for revenge against the aristocrats, specifically the Evremondes. Essentially, in this novel, the characterization of Madame Defarge develops the theme that often an individuals’ desire for revenge prevails over their humanity and leads to the fate of others.

To begin with, the actions of Madame Defarge help to establish the theme of revenge. As Madame Defarge visits Lucie and her daughter to supposedly comfort them, she “[stops] in her work for the first time, and [points] her knitting-needle at Little Lucie as if it were the finger of fate” (Dickens 316). Dickens portrays the revengeful Madame Defarge as she does not pity even a little child. This is an evident example of her desire for revenge overpowering her humanity. She decides the fate of Little Lucie as she points her knitting-needle at her, which is a symbol of fate. Furthermore, as the Defarge’s take the Mender of Roads with them to see the king and the Queen, Madame Defarge was “knitting all the way there” (Dickens 203). This repeated action of Madame Defarge knitting symbolizes fate. This is because she is putting the names of those who are to be put to death in her register meaning she decides the death of people. During the attack of the Bastille, Madame Defarge stayed very “immovable”, but “suddenly animated, she put her foot on his neck, and with her cruel knife –long ready- hewed off [the officer’s] head” (Dickens 259). This makes the lack of humanity in the character of Madame Defarge more conspicuous. It displays her violent and viscous character....
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