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In A Tale of Two Cities, what is the attitude of the French nobility concerning the...

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user4434069 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 13, 2013 at 1:50 PM via web

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In A Tale of Two Cities, what is the attitude of the French nobility concerning the future of their rule? How do the British perceive the French aristocracy's future?

 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 29, 2014 at 8:55 AM (Answer #1)

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1. Portrayed by Charles Dickens as decadent, effeminate, and effete, the French aristocracy is complacent and is not concerned about the discontent of the peasants. The Monseigneur in Chapter VII of Book the Second holds his customary receptions in his grand hotel in Paris. In the morning, his four servants assist him with drinking his chocolate.

So polite and so impressible was Monseigneur, that the Comedy and the Grand Opera had far more influence with him in the tiresome articles of state affairs and state secrets, than the needs of all France.

This nobleman feels that state affairs are tiresome and general public business should go his way and "tend to his own power and pocket." And, like the Monseigneur who is in town, the Monseigneur of the country is equally as unconcerned about matters of state as long as they line his pocket. However, he has found that "vulgar embarrassments crept into his affairs" and has had to hire the Farmer-General to straighten them for him. As far as the public affairs he "could not make anything at all of them." Nevertheless, they continue as they have done without real concern: 

And who among the company at Monseigneur's reception in that seventeen hundred and eightieth year of our lord, could possibly doubt that a system rooted in a a frizzled hangman, powdered, gold-laced, pumped, and white-silk stockinged, would see the very stars out!

2. At first the British loyalty have perceived France as a country to not worry about anymore than one should worry about Great Britain. In Chapter I, for instance, it is said "Things in general were well settled forever...." However later on, 

France as a nation is in grave trouble. Many of the wealthy French have put their money into Tellson's, hoping their currency will retain its value. In addition, some of the French have been fleeing the country and landing to Dover. The British realize that the aristocrats are in trouble.

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