A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Volume.Chapter.Paragraph)
Monseigneur had one truly noble idea of general public business, which was, to let everything go on in its own way; of particular public business, Monseigneur had the other truly noble idea that it must all go his way--tend to his own power and pocket. Of his pleasures, general and particular, Monseigneur had the other truly noble idea, that the world was made for them. (2.7.4)
The laziness of the aristocrats only turns into action when their own direct self-interest is concerned. Dickens satirizes the choices of the "Monseigneurs" without ever allowing us to see them as real people – a sign that, before the violence of the revolution at least, he sympathizes with the revolutionaries.
The leprosy of unreality disfigured every human creature in attendance upon Monseigneur (2.7.9).
Not only is Monseigneur unimaginable, but his followers are inhuman. They’re described as costumes, fancy hollow shells of rich (and worthless) people.
[…] the women were a sight to chill the boldest. From such household occupations as their bare poverty yielded, from their children, from their aged and their sick crouching on the bare ground famished and naked, they ran out with streaming hair, urging one another, and themselves, to madness with the wildest cries and actions. Villain Foulon taken, my sister! Old Foulon taken, my mother! (2.22.19)
The poor become a terrifying force during the uprising and the storming of the Bastille. Their anonymity early in the novel lends to the eerie sense that they’re a sort of natural force, unknowable, and utterly unstoppable.