A Tale of Two Cities
How we cite our quotes:
What I have been thinking as we came along, and what I am still thinking now, as I look into your kind strong face which gives me so much support, is this:--If the Republic really does good to the poor, and they come to be less hungry, and in all ways to suffer less, she may live a long time: she may even live to be old. (3.15.35)
The words of a young woman about to be beheaded testify to the good which still remains in the people of France. The fact that she’s able to imagine a future based upon the injustice of her own death becomes a sort of sublime hope for a time that will eventually see an end to violence.
It was the popular theme for jests; it was the best cure for headache, it infallibly prevented the hair from turning grey, it imparted a peculiar delicacy to the complexion, it was the National Razor which shaved close: who kissed La Guillotine, looked through the little window and sneezed into the sack. It was the sign of the regeneration of the human race. It superseded the Cross. (3.4.11)
The Guillotine becomes more than a national symbol, it becomes a national religion. The ability of a people to make mass death into a running joke testifies to the corruption of even the best ideals.