The Negative Effects of a Painful Past

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Revenge can sometimes take over a person who has had wrongs done against them. The novel A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens provides insight on the injustices that the peasants of France once faced and how these injustices lead to the French revolution and the peasants’ want for vengeance on their monarchy. Through the characterisation of Therese Defarge, one of the many victims of the cruelty of the aristocrats, Dickens reveals the slow transformation of the Third Estate, from weak and powerless to strong and vengeful. In essence, Dickens uses Therese Defarge to develop the idea that painful memories can breed hatred and a strong desire for vengeance. To begin with, Dickens develops this theme through Therese Defarge’s dialogue. This is evident when Defarge responds to Lucie Manette’s pleas: “All our lives, we have seen our sister-women suffer in themselves and in their children, poverty, nakedness, hunger, thirst, sickness, misery, oppression and neglect of all kinds... Is it likely that the trouble of one wife and mother would be much to us now?” (Dickens 250). This shows that Madame Defarge lacks sympathy for Darnay Evrémonde and his family because she has already seen so many families suffer under the aristocracy. Considering Defarge’s very own family was destroyed by the Evrémondes, Lucie’s pleas mean nothing to her because having Darnay executed will help her avenge her dead relatives. In this way Dickens shows how painful memories can arouse hatred in a person. The use of Madame Defarge’s dialogue to reinforce this idea is seen again when she replies to her husband after he suggests that Doctor Manette and the rest of the family be spared: that peasant family so injured by the two Evrémonde brothers, as that Bastille paper describes, is my family... those dead are my dead, and that summons to answer for those things descends to me... Tell the Wind and
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