Summary and Analysis
Chapter 23 - Fire Rises
One July day, a stranger approaches the road-mender and asks for directions to the Evrémonde chateau. That night, four figures set fire to the chateau and the villagers watch it burn, making no effort to put it out despite the pleas of servants from the chateau. Excited by the destruction of the chateau, the villagers threaten Gabelle, the local tax collector, who hides on his roof while the villagers pound on his door.
The rebellion begun in Paris is spreading to the countryside. Although Dickens despises mob violence, he recognizes that the abuses of the upper classes brought the country to the point of revolution, saying "Monseigneur as a class had, somehow or other, brought things to this."Dickens also continues his depiction of the revolution as a force of nature when he describes the four members of the Jacquerie who set fire to the chateau as "East, West, North, and South."Rather than giving them names and personas, Dickens has assigned them directions. This technique conveys a sense that the revolutionaries are the "red-hot wind"blowing in every direction to raze all vestiges of the aristocracy.
"wore a red cap now, in place of his blue one"French revolutionaries wore red caps.
sacristan a person responsible for the ceremonial equipment in a church.
tocsin an alarm bell.