Monsieur and Madame DeFarge of A Tale of Two Cities figure clearly as archetypal villains; in fact, Madame DeFarge is one of Dickens's most memorable of scoundrels. Her complete focus on retribution for the tragic misfortune of her family is evidenced throughout the narrative with her doomsday weaving of the names of the condemned into her knitting.
There was a character about Madame Defarge, from which one might have predicated that she did not often make mistakes against herself in any of the reckonings over which she presided....
Then she glanced in a casual manner round the wine-shop, took up her knitting with great apparent calmness and repose of spirit, and became absorbed in it.
Her implacable hatred and relentless evil intentions are undeterred by her husband's reasonings that there should be a limit to the deaths on the guillotine in Chapter XII of Book the Third,
Well, well,” reasoned Defarge, “but one must stop somewhere. After all, the question is still where?”
“At extermination,” said madame.
When her husband notes how Dr. Manette, for whom he was once a servant, has suffered and how his daughter Lucie has suffered, Madame DeFarge reacts heartlessly at his suggestion to desist from her terrible vengeance:
“Then tell Wind and Fire where to stop,” returned madame; “but don’t tell me.”
Completely without pity, Madame Defarge does not trust her husband to agree, then, with her feelings that Lucie and her daughter should also be exterminated along with the others connected to the Evremonde family. So, she hurries to where Lucie lives in order to kill Lucie and the child herself. But, in her struggle with Miss Pross, the villainous Mme. Defarge is shot by her own gun.
While all of the good characters in Dickens's novel are self-sacrificing, M. and Mme. Defarge consider their cause, their retribution against the aristocracy. And, although Defarge displays some sympathy for the Manette/Evremonde family, he still acquiesces to the iron will of his wife, who, in her sole intention in life as revenge for the deaths of her family, is a fateful force of villainy.