A Tale of Two Cities

by: Charles Dickens

Antagonist

Main ideas Antagonist

Madame Defarge is the antagonist of the novel. She is motivated by her desire to get revenge against any remaining members of the Evremonde family, including Darnay, Lucie, and their young daughter. She has been “imbued from her childhood with a brooding sense of wrong, and inveterate hatred of a class, opportunity had developed her into a tigress.” As a result, she works to thwart Darnay and his family by reporting him to the authorities after he has been released, and she also plans to kill Lucie and her daughter. While Madame Defarge is helped by other French revolutionaries and her husband, she often acts independently because her hatred and desire for vengeance exceeds the hatred of others. While other revolutionaries hate aristocrats on principle, Madame Defarge’s quest is personal: as she explains, “those dead are my dead.” While Madame Defarge acts in cruel and bloodthirsty ways, her motivation is rooted in genuine trauma and injustice. She remains consistent over the novel, but her motivations become more clear, and perhaps even relatable, when her family connection to the Evremondes is revealed.