Do you agree with Madame Defarge's actions in A Tale of Two Cities? Why?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While the family of Madame DeFarge was brutally killed by aristocrats when she was young, Marie DeFarge seeks revenge to the point of becoming a robot of vengeance, seeking redress against an entire class of Frenchmen.  She even believes herself to be an elemental power, unstoppable as a tornado,

Then tell the wind and fire where to stop, but don't tell me.

It is, indeed, apparent that Madame DeFarge commits the sin of what Aristotle termed hubris, unnatural pride.  Ironically, she becomes aloof, cold, and cruel--like the class whom she detests with her blood thirst represents that of the French Revolution.  Like those of this revolution, Madame DeFarge is cunning and extremely cruel as she seeks to punish an innocent member of the Evremonde family.  These actions of Madame DeFarge are unconscionable.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I cannot stand by Madame Defarge's actions. Indeed, while she is motivated by demons in her own past, I think that she becomes a victim to these personal elements.  At some level, characters/ individuals must be able to assert their own sense of self and serve as the active agents of their own consciousness.  She is deliberate and conscious enough to knit during the worst aspects of the Revolution, knowing well that she has set in motion the events that are meant to satiate her own blood lust.  Additionally, it is difficult for me to excuse her from her actions that have cause unto others the very same pain that she has endured in her own life.  At some point, I think that she has to be held accountable for what she has done or initiated.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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