The Marquis St. Evrémonde is a French nobleman whose cruel and heartless treatment of the townspeople makes him a quintessential symbol of the Revolution’s aristocratic enemies. Unlike his nephew, Charles Darnay, the Marquis proudly declares his superiority over others, flaunts his extravagant lifestyle, and has no regard for the consequences of his actions. These qualities quickly become apparent in Part 2, Chapter 7 when the Marquis’s carriage hits and kills Gaspard’s child in the street. Rather than showing any signs of remorse, he blames the villagers for being irresponsible and tosses them a few gold coins. This behavior reflects his belief that the lives of lower-class individuals are worthless and dispensable, even when those individuals are as innocent as a child. Although this episode represents a breaking point for the villagers and triggers his murder at the hands of a revolutionary, other details about the Evrémonde family’s history of abuse emerge throughout the novel, including the Marquis’s involvement in the deaths of Madame Defarge’s brother and sister and imprisoning Dr. Manette.
If simply describing the Marquis’s horrific actions was not enough to depict him as a villain, Dickens’s imagery further dramatizes his image as an evil aristocrat. He frequently describes the Marquis’s face as being mask-like with “one set expression on it” and, in Part 2, Chapter 9, emphasizes his chateau’s stonework which makes it appear “as if the Gorgon’s head had surveyed it.” Both of these images imply that the Marquis is cold, heartless, and unbreakable. The allusion to the Gorgons, Medusa-like creatures of Greek mythology, also suggests that the chateau is home to a monster.
While on one level these descriptions apply to the Marquis specifically, Dickens also uses similar imagery and word play to turn the Marquis into a symbol for the entirety of the French aristocracy. The name Evrémonde, for example, appears to contain the English word “every” and the French word “monde,” meaning world. Given that combining both of these words in French creates the phrase “tout le monde,” meaning “everyone,” the Marquis’s name points to the fact that he represents all noblemen, both in status and in behavior. The impersonal mask motif also works to obscure the Marquis’s individual personality so that he can symbolize a group identity larger than himself.