Character Analysis Therese Defarge


Childless and merciless, Madame Defarge is the antithesis of Lucie Manette. Both women possess the ability to inspire others, but while Lucie creates and nurtures life, Madame Defarge destroys it. Because her entire family perished when she was a young girl, Madame Defarge wants revenge, not merely on the family that caused the evil but on the entire class from which it came. What makes her such a threatening figure is her stubborn patience, which bides its time until it can strike. In this she is like some natural force that, when the opportunity is right, becomes ferocious and unrelenting. Her secret management of Darnay's re-arrest is cunning, but shows immense cruelty as well. In seeking to avenge her family, she has acquired the same ruthlessness as the men who destroyed her family. Her knitting represents both her patience and her urge to retaliate, because she knits the names of her intended victims. Symbolically, Madame Defarge stands for the intensity and bloodthirst behind the Revolution. Her relentless drive for vengeance makes her strong, but it eventually destroys her because she is unable to comprehend the powerful love that gives Carton the strength to die for Darnay, and Miss Pross the courage to defeat her.