In Book the Second, Chapters 10-16 of A Tale of Two Cities, what is suggested by the coin image?I know that coins are mentioned in the scene where the Marquis runs over the child with the carriage,...

In Book the Second, Chapters 10-16 of A Tale of Two Cities, what is suggested by the coin image?

I know that coins are mentioned in the scene where the Marquis runs over the child with the carriage, but I'm looking for something that is in Chapters 10- 16.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 16 of Book the Second of A Tale of Two Cities, Madame Defarge and her husband return from Paris where they have been informed by a Jacques that there is a spy in their midst by the name of Basard.  So, Madame Defarge knits his name into her work.  After they enter their wine shop, Madame Defarge immediately counts the "small moneys" that have been taken in while she has been gone.  Having counted and tabulated, she knots up the coins in her handkerchief, "in a chain of separate knots" for safe keeping in the night.

As they retire for the evening, her husband expresses disquietude regarding the revolution's coming to pass. Madame Defarge replies,

"Vengeance and retribution require a long time; it is the rule....But when it is ready, it takes place, and grinds to pieces everything before it."

As she makes this statement, Mme. Defarge ties a knot "with flashing eyes, as if it throttled a foe."  Each time she explains how the revolution will evolve, she ties another knot around a coin, "as if there were another enemy strangled."  When she refers to an aristocrat's neck she "tied a very terrible knot indeed."  Finally, placing emphasis upon her statements, Mme. Defarge hits her little counter with the "chain of money as if she knocked its brains out...."

The coin of Chapter 7 was the mere token for the life of the poor peasant boy run over by the carriage of the Marquis d'Evremonde.  Now the coin image of Chapter 16 signifies the necks and heads of the aristocrats that the revolutionaries will soon strangle and guillotine, leaving the heads to have their brains knocked out just as Mme. Defarge beats the knots of coins on her counter.

 

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A Tale of Two Cities

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