Because of the social and political ways of the aristocracy, tensions rose throughout France. This hostility between the peasants and the aristocrats started the French Revolution in 1789. Sixty years later, Charles Dickens wrote his novel, A Tale of Two Cities, in pieces. Dickens wonderfully portrays this war with his flawless imagery and reoccurring themes. One of his many themes throughout his novel is the theme of revenge. Dickens beautifully supports the theme of revenge through his clever symbols such as the candles during the burning of the chateau, birds of fine song and feather, and knitting.
Symbolizing the unity and support for the revolution, the candles placed in the windows during the chateau fire is one way Dickens supports the theme of revenge. The four Jacques, North, South, East, and West, travel to the chateau and set it on fire. As the chateau burns down, Dickens adds, “The mender of the roads, and the two hundred and fifty particular friends, inspired by one man and one woman by the idea of lighting up, had darted into their houses, and were putting candles in every dull little pane of glass” (Dickens 178). Here the readers see that the peasants place candles in their windows, which is an act of rebellion. This single act of rebellion is a way of revenge against the Marquis because he is of nobility, and because he ran over a child. While the chateau is on fire, Monsieur Gabelle is trapped inside. He cries for help, but no one helps him, as the town watches delightfully as the chateau burns down. Dickens notes, “The officers looked towards the soldiers who looked at the fire; gave no orders; and answered with shrugs and biting of lips, ‘It must burn’” (178). From this, the readers can understand that the town…
…ds up shooting her with the gun Madame Defarge has on her. Overall, Madame Defarge’s plan of revenge is short lived and unsuccessful.
The theme of revenge, which was probably the main motive in the revolution against the aristocracy, is supported precisely through Dickens’ symbols of candles during the burning of the chateau, bird of fine song and feather, and knitting. Dickens uses these symbols to enhance this theme. Successful of not, these acts of revenge help fire up the plot and make each chapter page turning. Additionally, Dickens’ cliffhangers left readers wanting to know what act of revenge was coming next during this revolution. Together, these three meticulous symbols tie the theme of revenge with the cause of the French Revolution.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. Ed. Julie Nord. Mineola: Dover ThriftEditions, 1870. Print.