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A Tale of Two Cities

by Charles Dickens

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What are the people's reactions to the broken wine cask? What does the spilled wine symbolize? What power has ground the people down and what does this indicate about conditions in France?

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People's reaction to the broken wine cask is to get on the ground and lick the wine as it flows on the ground. They are excited that the rich lost something, and that they get to have it. So hungry, and poor, are the people that they don't mind drinking off the street. Obviously, this shows how bad the conditions in France are. We see that the Paris suburbs are full of disgruntled people living in virtual squalor; these are the very masses that will provide the manpower for the coming revolution. The single-mindedness of the crowd anticipates the mob logic that leads to much more violence later in the novel. One of the men on the street even stops to write the word, "blood" on the wall. The spilled wine is a symbol of the blood that will be spilled in those very streets.

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