Madame Defarge is a radical supporter of the French Revolution and is depicted as a villain for the majority of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Her vendetta against the Evremondes seems unfounded until the reader discovers her tragic backstory. Despite this backstory, it’s difficult to empathize with Madame Defarge because she relentlessly goes after innocent people.
Madame Defarge intensely despises the aristocracy because she blames it for the deaths in her family. Defarge’s sister was raped by the Marquis de Evremonde in her youth, a crime that resulted in both her father and brother’s deaths because of their respective grief and quest for revenge.
For Madame Defarge, it isn’t enough to have punished her sister’s rapist; she wants to destroy his entire bloodline. This is best exemplified in the following quote:
It was nothing to her, that an innocent man was to die for the sins of his forefathers; she saw, not him, but them. It was nothing to her, that his wife was to be made a widow and his daughter an orphan; that was insufficient punishment, because they were her natural enemies and her prey, and as such had no right to live.
This shows the depths of Madame Defarge’s hatred, and although she might have a reason to hold a grudge, her nefarious plans transcend what is rational. Madame Defarge blames the aristocracy for her own pain and suffering, and she will not stop until she wipes them out of existence. Of course, this hatred is her own kind of flaw since it also causes Miss Pross to kill her.