Portrayal of women in a tale of two cities

Essay by scionHigh School, 10th grade January 2005

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Charles Dickens portrays women, in A Tail of Two Cities in ways that follow stereotypes of the period. His depictions of strong and strong minded women constantly pair strength with negative personality traits. His depictions of weak or soft women suggest that this characteristic matches a rather passive personality.

One of the women that Dickens portrays as strong but disliked is Madame Defarge. From the beginning of her appearance in the novel, she has been sitting quietly and knitting in the wine-shop; we later find out that it's a list of targets for the revolution. She possesses a remorseless bloodlust; Madame Defarge personifies the chaos of the French Revolution. Her apparent passivity disproves her relentless thirst for vengeance. With her stitches, she secretly knits a register of the names of the revolution's intended victims. As the revolution breaks into full force, Madame Defarge reveals her true viciousness. She adds Lucie and the whole Evremonde family to her register.

There is no evidence to why she is so mean. The only explanation is that it results from the oppression and personal tragedy that she has suffered at the hands of the aristocracy.

Lucie is a weak woman. She lets Miss Pross, another woman in the novel, pamper her in everything. Miss Pross doesn't play an important role in the novel. She only foils, or makes Madame Defarge look better.

Lucie is loved my all because she is such a passive character. Lucie was raised by Miss Pross in a section of Tellson's Bank because her parents were assumed dead. Dickens depicts Lucie as an archetype of compassion. Her love has the power to bind her family together--she is often referred to as "the golden thread." In addition, her love has the power to transform those around her. It enables her...