A Tale of Two Cities

by: Charles Dickens

Class

Quotes Class
There was no drainage to carry off the wine, and not only did it all get taken up, but so much mud got taken up along with it, that there might have been a scavenger in the street, if anybody acquainted with it could have believed in such a miraculous presence.

In this scene, a cask of wine spills in the street of Saint Antoine, a poor neighborhood. The narrator describes how the people of the neighborhood scramble to get some of the wine, and they are so desperate that they end up consuming mud along with the wine. Afterwards, the narrator notes that the street is so clean it appears as if a streetcleaner had visited, though no streetcleaner would come to this neighborhood. This scene is the first indication of the peasants’ severe poverty.

Monseigneur, one of the great lords in power at the Court, held his fortnightly reception in his grand hotel in Paris… Monseigneur could swallow a great many things with ease, and was by some few sullen minds supposed to be rather rapidly swallowing France; but, his morning’s chocolate could not so much as get into the throat of Monseigneur, without the aid of four strong men besides the Cook.

The narrator describes Monseigneur, a powerful man among French royalty. We see the gluttony of this man in particular, and the narrator compares it to the greed of the French aristocracy in general. The Monseigneur has many servants, four of whom are needed to make and serve his chocolate in the morning. When contrasting this excessiveness to the desperation for food and wine of the people in Saint Antoine, we can see the disparity between the classes in France. This stark contrast sets up why the lower class is so angry about their living conditions.

Monseigneur (often a most worthy individual gentleman) was a national blessing, gave a chivalrous tone to things, was a polite example of luxurious and shining life, and a great deal more to equal purpose; nevertheless, Monseigneur as a class had, somehow or other, brought things to this. Strange that Creation, designed expressly for Monseigneur, should be so soon wrung dry and squeezed out! There must be something short-sighted in the eternal arrangements, surely!

The narrator describes the condition of France after the revolution begins. Although the upper class was meant to be a good thing for the country, their existence led to the bloodbath of the revolution. By blaming their elevated position on “Creation” and “eternal arrangements,” we can see that the upper classes are oblivious to their own actions in bringing about the revolution. While they believe that the world was designed for their happiness and comfort, they did not consider that depriving others of the same comforts might lead to their own demise.