A Tale of Two Cities Book the First, Chapter 5 Summary and Analysis
by Charles Dickens

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Book the First, Chapter 5 Summary and Analysis


A large cask of red wine has fallen off a cart and shattered on the street in dirty, poverty-stricken Saint Antoine. People stop what they are doing to rush over and drink what has pooled in the uneven stone pavement. They create embankments in the mud to collect the wine so they can scoop it up in their hands. Faces and hands are stained red, and a man writes “BLOOD” on a wall.

Jarvis Lorry and Lucie Manette sit quietly in Ernest Defarge’s wine shop. Monsieur Defarge is discussing the spilled wine with three men, each of whom he calls “Jacques.” Madame Defarge, his wife, knits intently and appears to not take notice of the conversation. At length, Monsieur Defarge directs the three men to an apartment that they wish to see. They leave, and Lorry approaches Defarge to inquire after Dr. Manette.

Monsieur Defarge is visibly shocked by Lorry’s inquiry. He leads Lorry and Lucie up to a garret, far above the wine shop, where Dr. Manette has been hiding. They encounter the three “Jacques” outside the garret. Lorry is angry that Defarge allows anyone to see Dr. Manette, and Lucie is afraid to go inside. They enter the garret to find Dr. Manette making shoes in the dark.


Red wine symbolizes and foreshadows the blood that will later be shed in the French Revolution. Scenes of “gaunt scarecrows” frantically crowding one another to drink the spilled wine reveal two of the novel’s main concerns: the rise of revolutionary sentiment and its influence on large crowds of people—especially the outraged lower classes. The French peasants are starving, but Dickens suggests a distinction between physical hunger and a growing “Hunger” that will soon fuel the bloodthirstiness of the revolutionaries. This distinction is...

(The entire section is 444 words.)