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)
[…] 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 adds to the eerie sense that they’re a sort of natural force—unknowable and utterly unstoppable.
[…] the miserable bakers' shops were beset by long files of them, patiently waiting to buy bad bread; and while they waited with stomachs faint and empty, they beguiled the time by embracing one another on the triumphs of the day, and achieving them again in gossip. (2.22.29)
After storming the Bastille, the poor must still fall back into their normal routine. The stark contrast between the fierce power that they were able to wield in the morning and their utter submission in the bread lines at night is an unsettling reminder of how little the violence of the day has actually achieved.
Monseigneur (often a most worthy individual gentleman) was a national blessing, gave a chivalrous tone to things, was a polite example of luxurious and shining fife, and a great deal more to equal purpose; nevertheless, Monseigneur as a class had, somehow or other, brought things to this. Strange that Creation, designed expressly for Monseigneur, should be so soon wrung dry and squeezed out! There must be something short-sighted in the eternal arrangements, surely! (2.23.3)
Whose opinion is this? Although it’s represented as a sort of universal observation of the narrator’s, he’s clearly channeling the opinions of "Monseigneur" himself. The irony of this ventriloquism is, of course, that the narrator seems to have no sympathy for the rich at all.