In the compelling story A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens provides social commentary in terms of the era of the French Revolution such as the changing status of women. He displays his opinion of this matter through the archetypical classifications of the leading female roles in particular, Lucie Manette, Miss Pross, and Madame Defarge— which are depicted as strong and audacious although in seemingly contrasting ways.
Representative of the “quiet and cunning monster” archetype is Madame Defarge—whose strength is more brute and forceful fueled by hatred— yet still heightens the novel by showing a less traditional, fragile portrayal of women. Her malice is very evident when speaking of her opinion that “extermination is a good doctrine” and Dr. Manette who is “not the face of a true friend of the Republic” should be executed (311). Her strength and ruthlessness is a result of her detestation of French aristocracy and those seemingly against the republic due to her need for vengeance. In addition to this, Dickens’ representation of Madame Defarge’s unmatched bravery is because “not a voice, or a hand, or an eye was raised...Among the men, not one” whereas she “who stood knitting looked up steadily” at the Marquis (100). This marks the importance of Madame Defarge in the novel because she is the epitome of fearlessness even stronger than that of a man. Furthermore, when Lucie remarks that “[they] are more afraid of [Madame Defarge] than these others” she took it as a compliment (244). This exemplifies even more that she is sinister and is practically taking the fear as a sign of admiration. Her overall strong and defiant character contributes to the novel’s significance. Miss Pross, who is the loyal companion as well as another enduring female role in A Tale of Two Cities, enhances the novel because she embodies the ability to risk everything for what she believes in. During the fight between Miss Pross and Madame Defarge, Miss Pross in order to defend Lucie “with...
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