A Tale of Two Cities


Book 2, Chapter 15

This chapter reveals some of the underlying reasons for the French Revolution.  The reader is already aware that the aristocracy is able to commit violence and harm against the lower class without any real risk of retribution.  However, chapter fifteen demonstrates that those members of the lower class who do stand up for themselves do so at great personal risk.  As the reader may have suspected, it is revealed that Gaspard was the man who killed the Marquis.  The road mender goes with Monsieur Defarge to his wine shop and tells the Jacquerie that Gaspard was on the run following the murder.  Eventually, the authorities located Gaspard, hung him, and left his corpse hanging as a warning to the other people in the village. 

The chapter is full of violence, and this violence is an important part of the plot.  The violence demonstrates that without revolution, there really is no hope for France.  France is caught up in a cycle of revenge and punishment, and at each stage, the violence escalates.  This is demonstrated by the events surrounding the Marquis and Gaspard.  The Marquis remorselessly, albeit accidentally, kills Gaspard’s child.  Gaspard avenges his child’s death.  The government then hunts down Gaspard.  This leads the Revolutionaries, and particularly Madame Defarge, to put the Marquis’s entire family, the Evrémondes, into the register and target them for extinction during the Revolution. 

The Defarges take the road mender to the Palace at Versailles.  The road mender actually cheers the nobility, which upsets the Defarges on one level, but also serves their purpose.  They do not want the aristocracy to feel as if there is a coming Revolution.  Therefore, for the peasants to cheer the aristocracy reinforces a feeling of complacency, which serves the Defarges’ purpose.  However, the real reason that they take the road mender to Versailles is that they hope to show him the excesses of the aristocracy.  In fact, this visit to...

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Essays About A Tale of Two Cities