Chapters 7 and 8: The Marquis
A French Lord holds a showcase Extravaganza where all the important
aristocrats attend. The host snubs the Marquis St. Evremonde and he leaves the reception angrily, ordering his driver to race through the Paris streets. He accidentally runs over a child whose father is
Gaspard. He tosses the grief-stricken father a coin and Defarge emerges from the crowd to comfort Gaspard. He throws the coin back into the carriage as it speeds away.
The Marquis travels to his country estate where he stops at the village he
owns, near his home. A road mender claims he saw a man riding underneath the carriage, who, when it stopped, ran away.
The Marquis tells Gabelle, the town official, to be on the lookout for the
mystery man. The Marquis travels on to his chateau hoping to meet his nephew M. Charles who is traveling from England.
Dickens takes this opportunity to show the lengths that the French
aristocracy goes to in leading an excessive lifestyle at the expense of the common people.
They place themselves at the center of the world even corrupting quotations from the Bible by substituting the word ‘Lord’ with ‘Monseigneur’. Dickens describes them as leprosy on the common people of France. The incident with the child illustrates the total disregard that the aristocracy has for the citizens of Paris. The Marquis believes he can pay for the child’s life like a piece of merchandise. He is revealed as a heartless overlord. There is a silent challenge by the common people in the street suggesting that their tolerance is at breaking point.
Dickens describes the bleak landscape that the Marquis rides through which
is an example of the irresponsible habits that the ruling class have, that they are starving the land as well as the people.
The setting sun bathes the Marquis in a crimson light symbolically covering him in blood. The reader is left to imagine what blood this signifies, whether it is the death of the child, or his own death – it is uncertain.