A tale of two elucidates the results of what happens when revenge is allowed to dictate behaviour.comment? A Tale of Two Cities elucidates the results of what happens when revenge is allowed to...
A Tale of Two Cities elucidates the results of what happens when revenge is allowed to dictate behaviour.comment?
When revenge dictates behavior, as happens to some degree in A Tale of Two Cities, the behavior becomes unpredictable and may harm more than the intended victims.
The entire concept of the French Revolution was to take back what was theirs from those who had taken it from them. In general, that was the aristocrats; however, it certainly wasn't all of them, and it certainly wasn't Charles Darnay. Yet, in their rabid thirst (hunger?) for revenge, Darnay (actually Sidney Carton, of course) lost his life. Certainly there were others.
Madame Defarge was absolutely justified in wanting someone punished for the atrocities committed against her family; however, it was not her right to pursue a personal revenge. Once again, though, her revenge is directed at the wrong person. In no way would Charles Darnay have participated in or countenanced (approved of) the behaviors of his father and uncle. Therese's plan for revenge did work, in that a a life wa lost and a price was paid; however, she also lost her own life in the effort.
When revenge becomes the primary motivation and it begins, as you say, to dictate behavior, there is always a risk to both the avengers and anyone around them. The emotional nature of revenge makes everything unpredictable, volatile--and often lethal.
After the French Revolution, the Third Estate did received the privilege of voting, but the Republic quickly degenerated in the Reign of Terror in which many, many French were executed by such sadistic men as Robespierre. So, the results of the revolt of people did not produce all positive results.
The Russian Revolution is another example of the repercussions of repression of the masses. The soldiers of the Czar would periodically attach the Jews of Russia, so when given the opportunity, the followers of Marx and Lenin revolted and butchered the family of Nicholas and Alexandra, Czar and Czarina of Russia. After the revolution, there was a great period of turmoil and brutalities as Lenin crushed all his opposition; after him followed atrocities that Stalin committed against the Russian people, putting many in work champs, etc. So, the revenge of people did not work well in their favor there, either.
I would definitely agree with this in regard to Madame Defarge. Her sense of power during the Reign of Terror depicted in the work is driven by her own vengeful demons of what was done to her and her family prior to it. Dickens' presentation of Madame Defarge reflects the danger of political power motivated by vengeance. The fact that Madame Defarge's revenge was allowed to dictate behavior and policy is part of the reason why the spirit of freedom in the French Revolution ends up turning into a horrific bloodshed that cannot be controlled. It is Dickens' genius that shows power being motivated through vengeance is something that is likely to become uncontrolled and unrestrained by anyone or anything because its primary motivation is something that is ceaseless and without peace and stability.
In many ways, the revolution itself was the ultimate act of revenge. For Madame Defarge, it was personal. The other posters have done a good job expressing this. Yet the revolution was also a chance for all of the poor oppressed people of France to take revenge on their oppressors. This is represented by the extreme violence in targeting any vestiges of the aristocracy, as well as beheading as many aristocrats as they could get their hands on.