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 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.
But, imbued from her childhood with a brooding sense of wrong, and an inveterate hatred of a class, opportunity had developed her into a tigress. She was absolutely without pity. If she had ever had the virtue in her, it had quite gone out of her. (3.14.39)
The almost inhuman wrath of the Vengeance is chalked up to a strange combination of political situation and fate. The aristocrats regarded the poor as less than human, and the Vengeance becomes an ironic affirmation of their views. She’s utterly without human sympathy for the fates of any who fall victim to the Republic.