A Tale of Two Cities

(Book 2 Chapters 7-13) How does Dickens show us the extreme selfishness of the Monseigneur

(Book 2 Chapters 7-13)

How does Dickens show us the extreme selfishness of the Monseigneur

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In Chapter 8, en route from Paris to his country house, the Marquis is put into direct contact with the poor people whom he wants nothing to do with. Consistent with the negative images of the French aristocracy in this novel, the Marquis is brutally contemptuous of the plight of the lower class. He is willing to stop his carriage not in response to poverty and want, but only when he thinks that the class hierarchy is being breached. The trouble is that a lower-class man is staring at the carriage instead of showing respect. The Marquis shows his contempt for the villagers by calling them "pig" and "dolt."

The murder of Monseigneur is the first event in the great class struggle that erupts in the text. Details of the furnishings of the chateau also hint at the character of the family who own it, and they give further justification (beyond Monseigneur's personal brutality) for his murder. His furniture, "diversified by many objects that were illustrations of old pages in the history of France," is mainly in the style of Louis XIV, the so called "sun-god" who ruled France from 1643 to 1715. The style is highly decorative, and at the time in which the novel is set, it is somewhat out of date. This opulence, in combination with even older furnishings, not only displays Monseigneur's wealth but also illustrates that his disregard of the common people is not particular to him; his fortune has been entrenched in his family for many generations and has its roots in feudalism.