A Tale of Two Cities

by: Charles Dickens

Justice

1

Saint Antoine was clamourous to have its wine-shop keeper foremost in the guard upon the governor who had defended the Bastille and shot the people. Outside, the governor would not be marched to the Hotel de Ville for judgment. Otherwise, the governor would escape, and the people’s blood (suddenly of some value, after many years of worthlessness) be unavenged.

After Monsieur Defarge and others burn items they found in the Bastille, they go after the governor, who killed prisoners of the Bastille, usually enemies of the royals and upper class. The narrator explains that now that the revolution has begun, the peasants feel that it is time to see justice served to those who were previously in charge. They bring the governor to their makeshift prison “for judgment,” believing that now that they are in power, the lives forfeited by the lower class are worth seeking vengeance for.

2

Five were to be tried together, next, as enemies of the Republic, forasmuch as they had not assisted it by word or deed. So quick was the Tribunal to compensate itself and the nation for a chance lost, that these five came down to him before he left the place, condemned to die within twenty-four hours.

Even after the revolutionaries have taken over, their need to see justice served does not end with the upper class and royalty. As explained by the narrator, people who did not participate in the revolution are tried in groups and immediately sentenced to death for their lack of action. This extreme measure of executing people who simply did not help the cause shows just how much the revolutionaries want to see others punished for their past sufferings. The revolutionaries, in their twisted, power-drunk state of mind, believe these executions to be fair.

3

Before that unjust Tribunal, there was little or no order of procedure, ensuring to any accused person any reasonable hearing. There could have been no such Revolution, if all laws, forms, and ceremonies, had not first been so monstrously abused, that the suicidal vengeance of the Revolution was to scatter them all to the winds.

The narrator describes Darnay’s second trial in Paris, after he was declared innocent in the first. The attempt of the revolutionaries to administer a justice system typically resulted in a lack of justice served. While there used to be a system of law and order, the former class in charge abused the system to the point that those oppressed by the law were forced to revolt. Now, however, the revolutionaries are abusing the system and oppressing others in a similar way by denying them justice.