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A Tale of Two Cities

by Charles Dickens

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Discussion Topic

The Marquis' behavior towards the peasant child and whether his death is an act of revenge

Summary:

The Marquis' behavior towards the peasant child is callous and indifferent, as he runs over the child with his carriage and shows no remorse. His death is indeed an act of revenge, orchestrated by the peasants who are outraged by his cruel treatment and the broader injustices they face.

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Analyze the Marquis' behavior towards the peasant child in A Tale of Two Cities. Is his death an act of revenge?

The carriage of the Marquis travels the streets of the city recklessly. When the carriage runs over the little child, the child is killed. The Marquis has no pity or concern for the loss of life.  In fact, he refers to Gaspard’s (the child’s father) anguished cries as “abominable noise.” He further blames the residents of area for failing to avoid the swiftly-moving carriage. He complains that the poor people have no control over their children and that striking the child may have harmed his horses.

After throwing a coin to the ground in supposed compensation for the child’s life, he insults Monsieur Defarge and begins to drive away.  The gold coin is thrown back into his carriage and the Defarges comfort Gaspard.

Later, the Marquis is found dead under the watchful eyes of the stone statues that survey his estate. There is a note attached to his dead body and it reads, “Drive him fast to his tomb. This, from Jacques.” Of course the assembly of men in the wine shop all referred to one another as Jacques. Therefore, it is reasonable to infer that the murderer is from that section of the city or is affiliated with the men who frequent Defarge’s wine shop. In addition, the mender of roads saw a tall man, covered with dust, under the carriage of the Marquis.  Although the identity of the man is not definitively identified, the description is similar to the previous depictions of Gaspard, the child’s father. It is reasonable to conclude that the Marquis was killed in revenge for the murder and his haughtiness following the death of the child.

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In A Tale of Two Cities, analyze the behavior of the Marquis toward the peasant child.

The answer to this question can be found by analysing Chapter Seven of Book the Second, in which this event occurs. Dickens goes to great lengths to emphasise the cruelty and the lack of compassion of the Marquis in this episode, and the way he responds to the news that his carriage has killed a peasant child only serves to reinforce our earlier impressions of his character. As he is confronted by the father of the child and the faces of the crowd, the Marquis is said to look at them "as if they had been mere rats come out of their holes." Then note what he actually says to them:

"It is extraordinary to me," said he, "that you people cannot take care of yourselves and your cihldren. One or the other of you is forever in the way. How do I know what injury you have done my horses? See! Give him that."

Note the contempt with which the Marquis responds, and the way that he considers his horses to be more important than the life of another being. The equally contemptuous gesture of tossing a gold coin in recompense for the life that he has just taken again shows his extreme arrogance and his view of the French peasantry as being little more than objects to be bought or paid off.

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Analyze the Marquis' behavior towards the peasant child. Is his death an act of revenge?

The carriage of the Marquis travels the streets of the city recklessly. When the carriage runs over the little child, the child is killed. The Marquis has no pity or concern for the loss of life.  In fact, he refers to Gaspard’s (the child’s father) anguished cries as “abominable noise.” He further blames the residents of area for failing to avoid the swiftly-moving carriage. He complains that the poor people have no control over their children and that striking the child may have harmed his horses.

After throwing a coin to the ground in supposed compensation for the child’s life, he insults Monsieur Defarge and begins to drive away.  The gold coin is thrown back into his carriage and the Defarges comfort Gaspard.

Later, the Marquis is found dead under the watchful eyes of the stone statues that survey his estate. There is a note attached to his dead body and it reads, “Drive him fast to his tomb. This, from Jacques.” Of course the assembly of men in the wine shop all referred to one another as Jacques. Therefore, it is reasonable to infer that the murderer is from that section of the city or is affiliated with the men who frequent Defarge’s wine shop. In addition, the mender of roads saw a tall man, covered with dust, under the carriage of the Marquis.  Although the identity of the man is not definitively identified, the description is similar to the previous depictions of Gaspard, the child’s father. It is reasonable to conclude that the Marquis was killed in revenge for his haughtiness following the death of the child.

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