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Ben Jonson

The setting of the book changes in chapter five of book one, as do the characters one sees in the novel.  Instead of England, the setting is the street outside of a wine shop in a suburb of Paris.  One of the wine casks broke, and the crowd gathers to scoop up the spilled wine.  The wine shop is owned by Monsieur Defarge, and the reader quickly realizes that Monsieur Defarge is a Revolutionary as well as the proprietor of the wine shop.  He and his wife, Madame Defarge, are having a meeting with three men, whose identities are not revealed because they all go by the pseudonym Jacques.  Mr. Lorry and Lucie approach this wine shop and speak with Monsieur Defarge.  Monsieur Defarges leads them up a staircase to a locked door on the fifth floor of the building.  The three Jacques are using holes in the walls to look into the chamber.  When Monsieur Defarge opens the door, he reveals a broken-looking old man sitting on a bench, making shoes. 

Madame Defarge’s personality remains a mystery in this chapter; while her husband emerges as a forceful and authoritative man, little is revealed about her except for the fact that she is able to exert some type of control over her husband.  She does not communicate directly with Lucie or Mr. Lorry, seeming to defer to Monsieur Defarge in his communication with them.  However, she is constantly directing the communication.  She uses coughs and facial expressions to convey her feelings to her husband.  She also seems very remote.  She is not sympathetic to what Dr. Manette has experienced, and does not offer sympathy to Lucie.  Instead, she knits in a seemingly passive manner.

The greatest symbolism and foreshadowing in this chapter may be the spilled red wine.  Though the crowd manages to sop up all of the spilled wine, the streets remain stained red by the wine.  Likewise, all of the people are stained with the wine, as well.  Of course, this wine foreshadows that blood will soon run in the streets.  It also foreshadows that the blood will leave an indelible stain, just like the wine does.  If there were any doubt that the wine is symbolic of the blood that will flow, Dickens erases it by having Gaspard use  the wine mixed with mud to write the word “blood” on a wall.  In addition, the scene helps demonstrate how people will become depraved during the Revolution.  The people have not paid for wine, which they do not own, yet they crowd around and take it as their own.  Even after the blood stops flowing in the streets, the memory of the bloodshed will stain those who participated in the Revolution. 

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