What are some examples of abuse of power in A Tale of Two Cities?I need specific situatuons or quotes that have to do with people abusing their power in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dickens has no time for the French aristocracy and makes it abundantly clear that they have contributed significantly to their own downfall. They have systematically abused their power and the Revolution is the inevitable outcome. The heartless Marquis St. Evrémonde is a perfect symbol of how Dickens looks upon the Second Estate with its sneering indifference and contempt for the common people. When his carriage runs over a little boy in the street, St. Evrémonde shows more concern for his horses than for the poor broken child. He regards the peasantry as "vulgar" and would happily run over any number of these "dogs" to exterminate them.

The Monseigneur is equally as repulsive, if not more so. If St. Evrémonde's main negative character trait is his vindictive cruelty, the Monseigneur's is narcissism. This is a man who gives the impression of never having experienced love except in front of a mirror. He is the sole planet in his orbit, the center of his own little universe. Only his needs matter, no one else's. He thinks nothing of using no fewer than four servants to prepare his chocolate for him. (Only three would've brought shame to his good family name; two would've killed him.)

His love of chocolate is matched only by his complete indifference towards the poor and downtrodden of society. The Monseigneur's philosophy in life is pretty simple: let everything go on as before. Why not? After all, the Monseigneur does very nicely out of the current system. You won't catch him supporting any revolution. The business of state should be conducted purely on the basis that it gives him more wealth and power. It's this astonishing level of greed, selfishness and total lack of concern for the wider common good that epitomizes the blinkered attitude of the French aristocracy on the eve of revolution. The Monseigneur's unflinching narcissism is theirs too.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The two characters mentioned, the Marquis d'Evremonde and Madame Defarge, are, certainly, the main characters quilty of power as so well explained in the previous post.  Other characters to consider are the Monseigneur and the Jacques and the Vengeance, characters who are more symbolic than real in Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities.

-----In Chapter 7 of Book the Second, Dickens describes the Monseigneur, who represents the powerful aristocracy that lives in luxury.  He has the "truly noble idea that the world was made for him," and snubs the Marquis d'Evremond at his sumptuous ball:

Bestowing a word of promise here and a smile there, a whisper on one happy slave and a wave of the hand on another, Monseigneur affably passed through his rooms to the remote region of the Circumference of Truth.  There, Monseigneur turned, and came back again, and so in due course of time got himself shut up in his sanctuary by the chocolate sprites, and was seen no more.

"I devote you," said this person [the Marquis d'Evremonde] ...to the Devil!"

Then, in his "inhuman abandonment of consideration," the Marquis leaves in the carriage that runs over the poor child as previously mentioned.

-----Throughout the novel, the Jacques and the Vengeance act as the paracletes of revenge against the aristocracy of France.  For instance, they take an aristocrat and force him to eat grass, then run him across the countryside, and finally execute him.  These new oppressors load the tumbrils with anyone who is suspected of association with the French aristocracy, even a poor seamstress, who "has done nothing."

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly, Dickens pulls no punches in describing how badly the Marquis St. Evremonde abuses his power as a member of the ancien regime.  The rape of Defarge's sister, the dismissive manner he carries towards his own citizens, and, of course, the running over of Gaspard's child without the least bit of remourse reflects Evremonde's abuse of power.  Dickens describes him in terms and situations that reflect the ultimate in uncaring of political leaders.  It almost becomes a logical conclusion that with such leadership abusing the public trust that revolution would become inevitable.  I do believe that the counterpart that ascends to power as a result of the Revolution, the forces of blood lust as embodied by Madame Defarge, also represents an abuse of power.  Madame Defarge is so driven by power and revenge and consumed with position of being able to deliver the vengeance that she so seeks that she ends up abusing her power, as well, during the Reign of Terror.  The reality presented is that any ruler that does not understand the principles of leadership and poltical rule can abuse the power they possess.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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