Chapter 5: The Wine Shop
In the Paris suburb of St. Antoine there is a scene of mayhem as a crowd
gather in front of a wine shop scooping up wine from a broken cask as it flows down the cobbled street.
This is a very poor area of Paris and for many this fortune of free wine is a rare gift. Those that grovel in the wine have red hands, faces and feet and little do they know that in future years it will be blood on them.
Inside the wine shop we find M. and Mme. Defarge who are in conversation
with three other men all called Jacques.
They are sent upstairs. Mr. Lorry and Lucie enter the shop and M. Defarge too sends them upstairs. They come across the three Jacques peering inside a room through holes in the wall. Defarge unlocks the door where they find a white haired man sitting on a bench making shoes.
The reader does not have to use much imagination to realize that the wine
symbolizes blood. This is driven home by the fact that one of the revelers scrawls the word blood on one of the walls of the wine shop and receives a serious reprimand from M. Defarge.
Dickens is predicting that violence will follow on from the hunger and
deprivation suffered by the people of Paris. At present they are involved in a lust for wine – this will soon turn into a blood lust.
Dickens describes the wine drinkers as having ‘a tigerish smear about the
mouth’. The image of a tiger will reappear later in the book.
The oppressed people will lose their humanity in a quest for revenge.
Meanwhile Mr. Lorry’s mission becomes clearer in that it is to do with
bringing Dr. Manette back to the real world, but then the reader wonders why he was imprisoned in the first place.