In France, Lucie and her father witness the revolutionary song and dance called the Carmagnole. The dance was very significant to the revolution.
There could not be fewer than five hundred people, and they were dancing like five thousand demons. There was no other music than their own singing. They danced to the popular Revolution song, keeping a ferocious time that was like a gnashing of teeth in unison. (p. 177)
Lucie describes the Carmagnole dance as “a cruel, bad sight” and the narrator comments that “no fight could have been half so terrible as this dance” (enotes etext p. 178). The dance terrifies her because she worries about her husband, and the ghastly sight reminds her of what they might do to him.
The dance is important to the story because of Lucie’s reaction to it. Her father tells her none of the people will harm her, but she knows that her husband and daughter will not be so lucky. The dance demonstrates for her the full force of the revolution, and foreshadows the destruction that it will cause to the family.
The Carmagnole was important in the story because it signified the strength and resolve of the French Revolution and its impact to those in its opposition. The aristocracy had fallen and the citizens had taken over, it was a dangerous time for the former ruling class (which Lucie’s husband was connected to). The wild dance symbolized the power that the revolutionaries had and portrayed their ability to quash any opposition. It was performed to deliver a message and to serve as a reminder for the aristocracy about the new regime in place.
In regard to the Chapter, the performance of La Carmagnole reminded Lucie of the impeding mortal danger to her husband who had been arrested and was to be killed at the guillotine. The song and dance also reminded her of the danger to her daughter who was also at the same risk as the farther if their connection was discovered.