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In A Tale of Two Cities, Monsieur Defarge's praise for his wife (lines shown below) is...

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user2697780 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 3, 2013 at 3:18 AM via web

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In A Tale of Two Cities, Monsieur Defarge's praise for his wife (lines shown below) is prompted by his observation of her skill at

A. playing the gracious hostess

B. comforting the women

C. encouraging the women

D. inciting the women

E. getting the women to knit

In the evening, at which season of all others Saint Antoine turned himself inside out, and sat on door-steps and window-ledges, and came to the corners of vile streets and courts, for a breath of air, Madame Defarge with her work in her hand was accustomed to pass from place to place and from group to group: a Missionary—there were many like her—such as the world will do well never to breed again. All the women knitted. They knitted worthless things; but, the mechanical work was a mechanical substitute for eating and drinking; the hands moved for the jaws and the digestive apparatus: if the bony fingers had been still, the stomachs would have been more famine-pinched.  But, as the fingers went, the eyes went, and the thoughts. And as Madame Defarge moved on from group to group, all three went quicker and fiercer among every little knot of women that she had spoken with, and left behind.
Her husband smoked at his door, looking after her with admiration. “A great woman,” said he, “a strong woman, a grand woman, a frightfully grand woman!”

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 10, 2013 at 10:28 AM (Answer #1)

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D. inciting the women is the correct answer.

One of the great villains of literature, Madame DeFarge exudes menance and has an intent focus upon her vengeful plans against the French aristocracy. As such a fervent proponent of revolution, Therese DeFarge instills this bloodlust into her followers. Truly, she is a "frightfully grand woman" who exudes malice and acts as a "missionary" who brings this malice to others to weave into their own knitting. 

In his magnum opus, War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy suggests in the Russian general whose troops await the assault of Napoleon's a passive acceptance of evil. And yet, this Russian army defeats the French. For, there is something in human nature which absorbs the currents of the moment and history, thus reacting without true comprehension. Likewise, the knitting women in their single focus are thus moved by the sinister energy emitted by Madame DeFarge.

In Book the Second, Chapter XVI, when M. DeFarge asks his wife about what the spy Basard has said about Miss Manette's approaching marriage to Monsieur le Marquis d'Evremonde, and the implications of this action, she coldly replies,

“Her husband’s destiny,” said Madame Defarge, with her usual composure, “will take him where he is to go, and will lead him to the end that is to end him. That is all I know.”

Indeed, it is Madame DeFarge who is the force of destiny, a force that the women who knit feel as she passes among them and foments their bloodlust along with hers.


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