Last Updated 28 Mar 2021

Justice in Tale of Two Cities

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Justice is a major theme seen in The Tale of Two Cities and it connects all characters in one way or another. One character in particular, Madame Defarge, links most others together in her crazy quest for justice. In Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities, Madame Defarge responds to an injustice in a negative way after the harming of her family and goes about the wrong way of trying to get revenge, which in turn contributes to the overall plot of the story as a whole.

Madame Defarge’s search for justice for her family is gone about in the wrong way. She believes that in order to get back at Darnay, she must inflict the same pain she felt upon him. “Madame Defarge is the symbol of the evils brought forth by the French Revolution,” (eNotes, 67). After the rape of her sister by Darnay’s uncle the Marquis, and the death of her brother, Defarge’s becomes obsessed with hate towards anyone related to the Marquis and then in turn to the whole aristocrat society.

Defarge targets the aristocrats in a very stereotypical way, yet does not understand that what she is doing is wrong. “Madame Defarge plots the downfall of the St. Evremondes and other aristocrats with almost infinite patience, working the names of those whom she hates into her knitting. She plots Darnay's arrest in 1792 and the eventual deaths of his entire family, demonstrating the depths of her hatred,” (eNotes, 67). Her understanding of justice is completely backwards and that only continues to cause more trouble throughout the book.

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Madame Defarge’s search for justice is successful in her eyes, because she achieves causing pain and suffering, but then goes too far when she begins to target random people. Madame Defarge becomes so obsessed with her idea of justice that no one can hold her back in doing whatever she wants to. Defarge is obviously wrong to go on and kill innocent people, yet in her eyes it is perfectly okay because of the injustice done to her family. Madame Defarge’s acts towards justice contribute to the work as a whole because without her actions there would be essentially be no plot.

Defarge is responsible for Darnays trial along with all of the murders, which make up the bulk of the story. The Darnay family is also a big part in this story, and the reader grows a kind of fondness to them. When the Darnay’s family is in danger, the reader is affected as well because of all that was invested in these characters. The reader’s feelings for hatred towards Madame Defarge and sympathy towards Darnay and his family add a great deal to the overall lesson and experience of reading the book.

Without Madame Defarge and her crazy acts of justice in her own mind, the story would not be the same and would not give the reader the same benefit. Madame Defarge all in all represents much more than a scorned sister looking for revenge, she represents all the bad in the French Revolution. She had good intentions in the beginning; just wanted to get justice for her family, much like the French Revolution had good intentions to make a better life. Yet both Madame Defarge’s plan and the French Revolution went too far than originally planned.

Madame Defarge began targeting random people just because they were associated with the aristocrat class while the French Revolution did the same. Defarge’s plan was a big part of the overall plot, yet it represents the Revolution as a whole much as the whole book does. Madame Defarge and her quest for justice are a huge part of the overall plot of the story. Without many of her actions, the story as a whole would not be the same. In her search for justice, she represents much more and that in itself contributes to the plot as a symbol for the French Revolution. The injustice done to Madame Defarge continues to affect all throughout the story.

Works Cited

  1. "Characters. " Novels for Students. Vol. 5. Gale Cengage, .eNotes. com. 22 Feb, 2013 http://www. enotes. com/tale-of-two-cities/
  2. Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Evanston: McDougal Littell, 1997. Print. Bibliography
  3. "Characters. " Novels for Students. Vol. 5. Gale Cengage, .
  4. eNotes. com. 22 Feb, 2013 http://www. enotes. com/tale-of-two-cities/
  5. Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Evanston: McDougal Littell, 1997. Print.
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