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Book 2, Chapter 23 Notes from A Tale of Two Cities

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A Tale of Two Cities Book 2, Chapter 23

The mood in France has irrevocably changed. Where Monsieur the Marquis and members of his class once reigned, the peasants have now risen up and claimed that place as their own. The people are still poor and miserable, and the land ruined, and the elegance Monseigneur lived in has been stamped out completely:

"For scores of years gone by, Monseigneur had squeezed and wrung it, and had seldom graced it with his presence except for the pleasures of the chase--now, found in hunting the people; now, found in hunting the beasts, for whose preservation Monseigneur made edifying spaces of barbarous and barren wilderness. No. The change consisted in the appearance of strange faces of low caste, rather than in the disappearance of the high-caste, chiseled, and otherwise beatified and beatifying features of Monseigneur." Book 2, Chapter 23, pg. 223

Topic Tracking: Oppression/Class Struggle 9

The mender of roads continues his meager work and continues to starve. One evening, a compatriot named Jacques (who also addresses the mender of roads as Jacques), pays him a visit. The two discuss in vague terms a plan that they will carry out later that evening.The results of their plan are visible when the village realizes that the lavish chateau where Monsieur the Marquis once lived has been set ablaze. The few people who live there hurry out and rush to Monsieur Gabelle's door, begging him to help them. The chateau dwellers beg a group of officers and soldiers to help them, as there is valuable property burning, but the soldiers simply reply that the chateau must burn. The fire rages; it burns the chateau to the ground and spreads to the forest. The villagers, meanwhile, become obsessed with the idea that they must speak with Monsieur Gabelle immediately, as he has something to do with the collection of rent and taxes. Though he no longer collects rent and collects only meager taxes, the villagers surround his house and demand that he come forth. He hides on his roof behind a stack of chimneys until the people finally disperse.

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