Summary and Analysis
Book 3: Chapter 14
Madame Defarge tells The Vengeance and Jacques Three that she plans to denounce Lucie, Lucie's daughter, and Doctor Alexandre Manette that evening after Darnay's execution. She then leaves for Lucie's residence, knowing she will find Lucie grieving for Darnay. Showing grief for an enemy of the Republic is considered treasonous, and Madame Defarge plans to use Lucie's grief against her.
Meanwhile, Miss Pross and Jerry make preparations to leave and plan to meet up with Mr. Lorry's coach later. Anxious for the others' safety, Jerry vows that he will stop grave robbing and beating his wife for praying if Mr. Lorry and his group return safely to England. Deciding that two vehicles leaving their residence in one day might be suspicious, Miss Pross tells Jerry to wait for her with a carriage outside Notre-Dame cathedral at three o'clock.
Madame Defarge enters the apartment as Miss Pross is preparing to leave. Thinking quickly, Miss Pross closes the doors to all of the rooms and pretends to be guarding Lucie and her family. Although the two women can't understand each other's languages, they recognize that they are enemies. After calling for Lucie and the Doctor, Madame Defarge suspects that they have fled and tries to enter the room that Miss Pross is blocking. The two women struggle and Madame Defarge pulls out a gun. Miss Pross strikes it aside and the gun goes off, killing Madame Defarge and permanently deafening Miss Pross. After locking the apartment, Miss Pross rushes to the cathedral to meet Jerry and escape.
Although killing off a central character like Madame Defarge in a struggle with a minor character like Miss Pross may seem odd, Dickens prepares the reader for Miss Pross' role as protector early in the novel. In our first encounter with Miss Pross, when the news that her father is alive shocks Lucie, Mr. Lorry observes Miss Pross to be the "wild-looking woman"with "a brawny hand"that sent him flying into a wall (see Book I, Chapter 2). Her response to Lucie's being even mildly threatened establishes her ability and willingness to defend "her darling."Miss Pross' single-minded devotion to Lucie and her family mirrors Madame Defarge's unwavering determination to kill Darnay, Lucie, and their family. Both women have dedicated their lives to the family, but with different purposes: Miss Pross lives to help the family flourish, while Madame Defarge lives to see them dead.
The final conflict between Miss Pross and Madame Defarge also represents a larger conflict between love and hate. By having Miss Pross triumph over Madame Defarge, Dickens indicates that love can conquer even the strongest hatred. Carton similarly defeats Madame Defarge when he orchestrates Darnay's freedom out of love for Lucie. However, in both cases, the struggle exacts a price for evil's defeat — Miss Pross loses her hearing and Carton loses his life. Dickens seems to be saying that good will overcome evil, but not without suffering and sacrifice.