Search Menu


Madame Defarge

Madame Defarge

Madame Defarge

Madame Defarge

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.

Test Your Understanding with the Madame Defarge Quiz

Take a quiz on this section
Test Your Understanding with the Madame Defarge Quiz



Which characters go through profound transformations?
Miss Pross and Jerry Cruncher
Doctor Manette and Sydney Carton
Test Your Understanding with the Madame Defarge Quiz

Madame Defarge QUIZ

Test Your Understanding with the Madame Defarge Quiz

More Help

Previous Next

by whathastheworldcometo, March 25, 2013

I found a great summary trailer of A Tale of Two Cities on Youtube! >>


6 out of 14 people found this helpful

Perfect :)

by mahelah1, December 12, 2013

I just love this Novel


5 out of 9 people found this helpful

A Tale of Two Cities

by Bilbo_Baggins_of_Bagg_End, February 06, 2014

Does Sydney Carton die instead of Charles Darnay because he loves Lucie?


3 out of 6 people found this helpful

See all 20 readers' notes   →

Buy on and save!

A Tale of Two Cities (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

A Tale of Two Cities (SparkNotes Literature Guide Series)

Got it?
Take a quiz on All Major Characters →