Madame Defarge Knitting Analysis Essay

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Possessing a remorseless bloodlust, Madame Defarge embodies the chaos of the French Revolution. The initial chapters of the novel find her sitting quietly and knitting in the wine shop. However, her apparent passivity belies her relentless thirst for vengeance. With her stitches, she secretly knits a register of the names of the revolution’s intended victims. As the revolution breaks into full force, Madame Defarge reveals her true viciousness. She turns on Lucie in particular, and, as violence sweeps Paris, she invades Lucie’s physical and psychological space. She effects this invasion first by committing the faces of Lucie and her family to memory, in order to add them to her mental “register” of those slated to die in the revolution. Later, she bursts into the young woman’s apartment in an attempt to catch Lucie mourning Darnay’s imminent execution.

Dickens notes that Madame Defarge’s hatefulness does not reflect any inherent flaw, but rather results from the oppression and personal tragedy that she has suffered at the hands of the aristocracy, specifically the Evrémondes, to whom Darnay is related by blood, and Lucie by marriage. However, the author refrains from justifying Madame Defarge’s policy of retributive justice. For just as the aristocracy’s oppression has made an oppressor of Madame Defarge herself, so will her oppression, in turn, make oppressors of her victims. Madame Defarge’s death by a bullet from her own gun—she dies in a scuffle with Miss Pross—symbolizes Dickens’s belief that the sort of vengeful attitude embodied by Madame Defarge ultimately proves a self-damning one.

More characters from A Tale of Two Cities

When we first meet Madame Defarge in A Tale of Two Cities, she doesn’t say a word. But she leaves an indelible mark. She sits in her wine shop, on the edge of things, knitting, glancing imperceptibly at her customers. If you were there, you might mistake her for just another well-behaved wife. But she’s far from that.

The full series of 'My favourite Charles Dickens character' is:

• Pip (Great Expectations) by Neil McCormick

• Quilp (The Old Curiosity Shop) by Christopher Howse

• Rosa Dartle(David Copperfield) byRupert Christiensen

• Sissy Jupe (Hard Times) by Florence Waters

• Madame Defarge(A Tale Of Two Cities) byDaisy Bowie-Sell

• Aged Parent (Great Expectations) by Martin Chilton

• Ebenezer Scrooge (A Christmas Carol) by Charles Spencer

• Uriah Heep(David Copperfield) byMark Monahan

• Estella (Great Expectations) bySerena Davies

• Stephen Blackpool (Hard Times) by Dominic Cavendish

• Esther Summerson (Bleak House) by Rachel Ward

• Thomas Gradgrind (Hard Times) by Morwenna Ferrier

• Joe Gargery (Great Expectations) byTim Robey

• Sarah Gamp (Martin Chuzzlewit) by Robbie Collin

• Bill Sykes (Oliver Twist) by Catherine Gee

• Mr Pumblechook (Great Expectations) by Andrew Pettie

• Wilkins Micawber (David Copperfield) by Terry Ramsey

• Sir Leicester Dedlock (Bleak House) by Andrew Baker

• Mr Brownlow (Oliver Twist) byClive Morgan

• Miss Havisham (Great Expectations) byLorna Bradbury

• Jo The crossing sweeper (Bleak House) byPaul Gent

• Jennie Wren (Our Mutual Friend) byIvan Hewett

• Nancy (Oliver Twist) by Lucy Jones

• Mr Pickwick (The Pickwick Papers) bySameer Rahim

• Bazzard (The Mystery Of Edwin Drood) byPhilip Womack

• The Artful Dodger (Oliver Twist) byAndrew Marszal

• Ninetta Crummles (Nicholas Nickleby) by Sarah Crompton

• Sydney Carton (A Tale Of Two Cities) byPatrick Smith

• Oliver Twist (Oliver Twist) by Gaby Wood

For more information and stories on Charles Dickens see the Telegraph Charles Dickens page.

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