Profound Secret and Mystery in A Tale of Two Cities
The twists and turns of Charles Dickens's classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, lead the reader from a quiet beginning to a violently shocking climax, after introducing dozens of complex characters and two very different plots that converge with a sickening crash of La Guillotine. Many of the characters in the story appear to be one-sided in the beginning, but as the plot continues, it reveals that "every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other," as Dickens stated. His characters change and develop over the course of the book as Dickens contrasts what they appear to be and what they really are, revealing that no one can ever be completely understood - maybe not even by himself.
Almost everyone has heard that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but one of Dickens's characters in A Tale of Two Cities had obviously never received this advice. When Madame Defarge came after Lucie, little Lucie and Doctor Manette in their temporary home in Paris, she probably expected to get what she wanted easily and quickly. She definitely didn't expect to be met with a great resistance from a single Englishwoman. When Miss Pross stopped Madame Defarge from entering Lucie's room, Madame Defarge discovered that "this was a courage that [she] so little comprehended as to mistake for weakness." Pross was a complete enigma to Madame Defarge - and this proved to be Defarge's downfall. Even though Madame Defarge had been in dozens of bloody skirmishes in the streets of Paris, her life was ironically ended when she underestimated a single desperate and determined Englishwoman.
Madame Defarge herself was also a mystery to the reader as well as some characters in the book. In the beginning of the book, the Defarges help Doctor Manette when he first gets out of prison - they appear as relatively benign characters. Later, we see them as leaders of the revolution - which at first appears as a good thing - with Madame Defarge subtly leading her husband. But when the violence starts at the Bastille, Madame Defarge's true character as a bloodthirsty, revenge-seeking murderer surfaces when she decapitates the governor...