In what ways can Madame Defarge be considered a tragic character in A Tale of Two Cities? 

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sarahc418 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In A Tale of Two Cities, Mme Defarge acts ruthless, vengeful and bloodthirsty. The reader struggles to identify with this woman who spends her days knitting people to the revolutionary's hitlist. 

Although considered a symbol of the evils brought forth by the French Revolution, Mme Defarge is someone to be pitied too. Her life up until the novel begins has been riddled with tragedy and strife. Growing up as a peasant, she lived in constant fear of death or rape. Her brother was killed at the hands of the Evremonde brothers and her sister was raped until she lost her sanity and finally her life. Struggling with these events, Mme Defarge developed a need to exact revenge on her sister and brother's killers. Her need for revenge turns into blood thirst and intensely focused anger. 

Mme Defarge is a product of her time period and of the class struggles of the time. Her life, filled with tragedy, led to her anger and subsequent death. Without the rage, Mme. Defarge would not have entered Lucie's home looking for her and taking Miss Pross on in the process. It is Mme. Defarge's inability to see past her anger that leads to her death. 

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A Tale of Two Cities

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