RWM: A Tale of Two Cities, Book III, Chapter XIV

Previously: Book III, Chapter XIII | Coming Soon: Book III, Chapter XV

Welcome to the thirtieth, and penultimate week of this read-with-me project. This week we read Chapter XIV: The Knitting Done. This section was first released in a magazine called All the Year Round on Saturday, November 19th 1859.

The story so far…
Sydney has swapped places with Charles leaving the Darnay-Manettes free to make their escape from Paris.

In this section…
The chapter begins following Madame Defarge who wished to catch Lucie in the act of mourning for a prisoner, therefore, strengthening the case on the whole family. I like the way that this chapter has such an emphasis on Madame D without her husband because she is quite an interesting character. She goes against the female stereotype that is embodied by Lucie and is very violent. It seems on fitting that her death, which happens in this chapter, comes about through her violence. She also exhibits a remarkable amount of female agency with her involvement in the revolution and is utterly fanatical in her beliefs. We previously learnt that Monsieur Defarge took umbrage against Darnay due to the way that family treated his previous employed, Dr Manette. However, Madame D does not have such a close relationship to the Darnay family, also known as Evermonde. She wished his downfall simply because she seems to see the world as ‘us and them’. Not only does she wish his downfall but she actively encourages it, though her actions at the trial and desire to catch Lucie.

Dickens left us with the relative comfort that the Darnay-Manette family were on their way home and letting us believe that they were safe. However, the reappearance of Madame D this late in the game suggests that no one is ever safe.

When she arrives at the house, however, Lucie is not there, and she finds Miss Pross instead. Determined to protect her Ladybird, Miss Pross and Madame end up in a physical struggle after which Madame is killed and Miss Pross is deafened.

My favourite quote from this chapter is the following:

“[…] the vigorous tenacity of love, always so much stronger than hate[…]”

The quote applies to Miss Pross’ love for Lucie, or as she calls her Ladybird, and is the supposed reason for her victory over Madame D. Alternatively it is also part of a much bigger theme in the book when you consider it concerning Sydney’s situation. He loves Lucie to such an extent that he wants to ensure her happiness. Sydney’s love for her is stronger than the possible hate he could feel for Charles. I adore the concept of the superiority of love, as exemplified by the phrase ‘vigorous tenacity’ used to describe it as opposed to the way that ‘hate’ stands alone. Ultimately the strength of love to surpass hate is something we all need reminding of, especially at the moment.

What about you… Are you reading along with A Tale of Two Cities, and if so, what did you think of this section?

Dates for your diary:
Chapter XV on the 26th of November (Post: 28th of November)
A Tale of Two Cities Masterlist (Post: 4th of December)

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