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A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

  

by Charles Dickens

Madame Defarge Timeline and Summary

  • Madame Defarge owns a wine shop with her husband.
  • It’s in Saint Antoine, a poor neighborhood in Paris.
  • Defarge walks into his store, where his wife sits knitting.
  • She’s as strong and steadfast as he seems to be. She sure doesn’t stop knitting, for one thing.
  • She coughs and rolls her eyes.
  • Defarge seems to know what she means. Apparently they have a secret language worked out.
  • Today, it means that Lucie Manette and Mr. Lorry have arrived.
  • Madame Defarge watches as Defarge takes them to Doctor Manette. She knits.
  • Five years later: Folks are coming into the Defarges’s wine shop as early as six in the morning.
  • The mender of roads tells them all about the man who killed the Marquis.
  • He also tells them of the poverty in the area—a crime in itself.
  • They agree that the perpetrators of this crime should be "registered" in their records as people who should be destroyed.
  • Jacques Two pauses to ask if anyone will ever be able to steal the group’s register.
  • Defarge scoffs. Madame Defarge keeps the register in her knitting.
  • No one could decipher it even if they knew what it was supposed to be.
  • Madame Defarge learns from her husband that they have a spy who’s on the police force.
  • Apparently, the police have hired a new spy to ferret out revolutionaries (or Jacqueses, as we like to call them).
  • This new spy is English. His name is Barsad.
  • Madame Defarge says that he’ll need to be registered in her knitting.
  • Defarge describes the guy’s physical appearance.
  • Nodding, Madame Defarge takes it all down. She’s pretty pleased at her husband’s ability to get such good information.
  • As the two enter the empty wine shop, Madame Defarge asks her husband why he seems so down and out.
  • Defarge sighs, then says that change seems to take such a long time. Too long, perhaps.
  • Madame Defarge stares at him sternly. Then she begins to lecture him.
  • In case we haven’t mentioned it, she’s something of a force of nature.
  • She manages to slap him back into shape pretty quickly.
  • OK, she doesn’t actually slap him. But she does point out that he’s being feeble and just a bit cowardly.
  • Sure, revolution takes a long time to prepare. But they’ll have helped bring it about—even if they’re not alive to see its effects.
  • The next morning, Madame Defarge sits at her seat.
  • She’s knitting. Of course. Beside her knitting lies a rose.
  • A man walks into the shop.
  • Madame Defarge picks up the rose and slides it into her cap.
  • As if someone’s issued a secret sign, the shop falls silent.
  • People slink out the back exits as the new customer comes up to the counter.
  • Madame Defarge makes polite conversation with the newcomer.
  • The guy’s eyes dart everywhere, but he can’t seem to come up with anything out of the ordinary.
  • Madame Defarge thinks to herself that the man should stay around another minute longer.
  • That way, she’ll be able to knit his entire name, John Barsad, into her register.
  • Defarge walks in. He glances at his wife, then greets the new customer.
  • The new man hails him cheerfully as "Jacques."
  • Defarge looks confused. His name is Ernest, not Jacques. He would thank the visitor to use his name. It’s more than enough for him.
  • Between the two of them, the Defarges trick the spy.
  • The spy does manage to get one good blow in, though. He mentions Doctor Manette.
  • Madame Defarge quickly says that they never see nor hear from the doctor.
  • Smiling, the spy says he knows. In fact, the doctor is in England.
  • Interestingly, his daughter is about to marry a man whose original name is… well, not Darnay.
  • In fact, he’s taken his mother’s name. In French, it would be D’Aulnais.
  • When the spy asks if anything is the matter, she says that it would be better for the daughter of Doctor Manette if her husband-to-be never returned to France.
  • Revolutionary fervor builds.
  • The Defarges’s wine shop remains the center of all the revolutionary activity.
  • As all the Jacqueses get ready to go to war, Madame Defarge rallies the women.
  • Together, they storm the Bastille.
  • Outside, the crowd has captured the governor who defended the Bastille.
  • They’re supposed to wait for Defarge to emerge so they can march the governor back to the wine shop.
  • As the guy passes through the crowd, however, he gets beaten and knifed.
  • Madame Defarge, shouting triumphantly, steps on him and cuts off his head.
  • A week after the Storming of the Bastille, Madame Defarge sits at the counter of her shop.
  • Another woman, the short, plump wife of the grocer, sits with her.
  • In the past week, this woman has taken on a new name: she’s now called "The Vengeance."
  • Defarge tells them that Foulon has been taken.
  • Madame Defarge and the Vengeance run through the town with the news.
  • Soon an entire crowd has gathered outside the house where Foulon has been taken.
  • Madame Defarge rushes into the house to see the old man bound up in ropes.
  • She begins to clap as if she’s just seen a great play.
  • Defarge rushes up to Foulon and "folds him in a deadly embrace."
  • We’re guessing that means he kills the guy.
  • Madame Defarge tries to strangle him with his ropes.
  • 1792: After Charles Darnay is captured, Madame Defarge goes to see Lucie and her child.
  • She scares them with her coldness.
  • Frantic, Lucie asks for her to protect her husband because he’s the doctor’s son-in-law.
  • She begs for pity as a wife and a mother.
  • Madame Defarge stares at her coldly and says that the wives and mothers of France have been suffering for a very long time.
  • She leaves without ever promising to help.
  • On the morning of Charles's trial, Madame Defarge sits in the front row.
  • When Charles is re-arrested, Sydney Carton goes to the Defarges’s wine shop.
  • Madame Defarge serves him. She’s surprised by how much he looks like Charles.
  • She and Jacques Three begin discussing when the revolution will be over.
  • Defarge notes that the violence will have to stop somewhere. The question, of course, is where.
  • Madame Defarge has an answer to that: they’ll stop when all of the aristocrats are exterminated.
  • Defarge doesn’t quite agree. After all, they all saw how Doctor Manette suffered when his son-in-law’s verdict was read.
  • Come to think of it, Madame Defarge is not so sure that Doctor Manette is a true patriot.
  • Madame Defarge snaps at her husband. She’s been watching Lucie.
  • In fact, all she has to do is lift her finger... and Lucie’s life would be over.
  • Madame Defarge goes on an angry tirade. As she says, she was with Defarge when he found Doctor Manette’s letter.
  • Moreover, she is the younger sister of the woman who was raped and kidnapped.
  • She’ll never stop pursuing her revenge against the Evrémondes.
  • Her listeners are fascinated by the deadly heat of her wrath. Even Defarge stops trying to talk her into being merciful.
  • Later that night, Madame Defarge is holding a council—without her husband.
  • She’s decided that he’s too soft.
  • He doesn’t understand what it takes for a revolution to succeed.
  • Madame Defarge admits that she cares nothing about Doctor Manette. He can live or die… she doesn’t mind either way.
  • Lucie and her child, however, must be exterminated.
  • All of the Evrémonde race must die.
  • Madame Defarge swears her two companions to secrecy. Her husband can’t know about their plans.
  • Now Madame Defarge calls over the wood-sawyer and makes him promise that he’ll testify that Lucie was exchanging traitorous signals with the prisoner Evrémonde.
  • Happy to help the revolution, the guy agrees.
  • Confident that Lucie will be pretty angry at the Republic right now (after all, her husband’s being executed), Madame Defarge decides to pay her a visit.
  • Perhaps she can get Lucie to say something that will curse her whole family to death.
  • The Vengeance can’t get enough of how marvelous Madame Defarge’s plans and revolutionary fervor are.
  • Madame Defarge stalks through the streets.
  • She’s a cold, cold woman.
  • She cares nothing about love—only about vengeance. Sort of like her friend.
  • She meets Miss Pross, who's alone in the house.
  • Miss Pross and Madame Defarge say some nasty things to each other. Neither can understand the other, but they seem to communicate pretty well, just the same.
  • At the very least, they each hate the other.
  • Madame Defarge throws open all the doors in the house but one: Miss Pross guards the last door herself.
  • Realizing that Miss Pross isn’t planning to move anytime soon, Madame Defarge lunges at the door.
  • Miss Pross grabs Madame Defarge around the waist and hangs on for dear life.
  • They claw at each other; Madame Defarge lunges for the keys at Miss Pross’s waist.
  • All of a sudden, Miss Pross sees Madame Defarge draw something out of her dress.
  • She grasps Madame Defarge’s hand.
  • A loud blast goes off.
  • Madame Defarge dies.
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