Good-humoured-looking on the whole, but implacable-looking, too; evidently a man of a strong resolution and a set purpose; a man not desirable to be met, rushing down a narrow path with a gulf on either side, for nothing would turn the man.
This is the narrator’s first description of Monsieur Defarge, the owner of a wine shop in the poor neighborhood of Saint Antoine. He appears approachable but obstinate in his beliefs at the same time. We soon learn that Monsieur Defarge is in charge of a group of revolutionaries, and his “strong resolution and a set purpose” will serve him well in this role.
“You are the fellow we want,” said Defarge, in his ear, “you make these fools believe that it will last for ever. Then, they are the more insolent, and it is the nearer ended.”
Monsieur Defarge says this to the mender of roads when they take him to see the king and queen. The peasant is excited by the royalty. Defarge encourages this, explaining that it is better that the upper class thinks they are still admired by all, for then they will not expect a revolution. Defarge and his men use the ignorance of people like this mender of roads to keep the upper class complacent.
But it is your weakness that you sometimes need to see your victim and your opportunity, to sustain you. Sustain yourself without that. When the time comes, let loose a tiger and a devil; but wait for the time with the tiger and the devil chained—not shown—yet always ready.
Madame Defarge makes this observation on her husband’s temperament as they discuss the revolution. While she is hungry for revenge, Monsieur Defarge is more patient and accepts that they may not see vengeance during their lives. Here, she admonishes him about his flagging commitment to the cause. This exchange shows the difference between them: Monsieur’s dedication to change needs to see wrongs to fuel his fire, while Madame’s vision of a bloody revolution is sustained by cold calculation.
“I will do,” Defarge doggedly rejoined, “nothing for you. My duty is to my country and the People. I am the sworn servant of both, against you. I will do nothing for you.”
Monsieur Defarge says this to Charles Darnay after Darnay is arrested in Paris and asks for help contacting Mr. Lorry. Although Defarge is sympathetic towards Doctor Manette and Lucie, and knows the connection Darnay has to them, he still sees Darnay as part of the aristocratic class, and therefore feels Darnay does not deserve any help.
My husband, fell-citizen, is a good Republican and a bold man; he has deserved well of the Republic, and possess its confidence. But my husband has his weaknesses, and he is so weak as to relent towards this Doctor.
Madame Defarge represents her husband’s viewpoint to other revolutionaries as they discuss what to do about Doctor Manette and Lucie. Madame Defarge is eager to kill them, since they are related to Darnay and the Evrémonde family. She knows her husband has affection for Manette and Lucie and sees Monsieur Defarge’s ability to feel empathy for others as a weakness.