The wine was red wine, and had stained the ground of the narrow street in the suburb of Saint Antoine, in Paris, where it was spilled. It had stained many hands, too, and many faces, and many naked feet, and many wooden shoes. The hands of the man who sawed the wood, left red marks on the billets; and the forehead of the woman who nursed her baby, was stained with the stain of the old rag she wound about her head again. Those who had been greedy with the staves of the cask, had acquired a tigerish smear about the mouth; and one tall joker so besmirched, his head more out of a long squalid bag of a night-cap than in it, scrawled upon a wall with his finger dipped in muddy wine-lees—blood.

This passage, taken from Book the First, Chapter 5, describes the scramble after a wine cask breaks outside Defarge’s wine shop. This episode opens the novel’s examination of Paris and acts as a potent depiction of the peasants’ hunger. These oppressed individuals are not only physically starved—and thus willing to slurp wine from the city streets—but are also hungry for a new world order, for justice and freedom from misery. In this passage, Dickens foreshadows the lengths to which the peasants’ desperation will take them. This scene is echoed later in the novel when the revolutionaries—now similarly smeared with red, but the red of blood—gather around the grindstone to sharpen their weapons. The emphasis here on the idea of staining, as well as the scrawling of the word blood, furthers this connection, as does the appearance of the wood-sawyer, who later scares Lucie with his mock guillotine in Book the Third, Chapter 5. Additionally, the image of the wine lapping against naked feet anticipates the final showdown between Miss Pross and Madame Defarge in Book the Third, Chapter 14: “The basin fell to the ground broken, and the water flowed to the feet of Madame Defarge. By strange stern ways, and through much staining of blood, those feet had come to meet that water.”