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Book 2, Chapter 7: “ Monseigneur in Town”. Title meaning: This one’s pretty literal, folks. The Monseigneur comes to town. Plot Summary:.

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Book 2, Chapter 7: “Monseigneur in Town”

Title meaning:This one’s pretty literal, folks. The Monseigneur comes to town.

plot summary
Plot Summary:
  • Monseigneur the Marquis, a Lord in the court, is having his twice-monthly reception at a grand hotel in Paris. He sits down to take his chocolate, assisted by several well-dressed men. He lives lavishly and spends excessively, despite the dire poverty of the rest of the country.
  • Everyone in Monseigneur's grand living quarters, down to the common executioner, is extremely well-dressed, as if for a fancy ball.
  • After the reception, Monseigneur leaves. On his way out, he stops in front of a mirror and declares to his reflection, "'I devote you to the Devil.” (p.109)
  • As he leaves, his driver proceeds through the streets recklessly, with little regard for the commoners who might be standing in the way of the grand carriage. After a time, Monseigneur hears a loud cry, and the horses rear and plunge.
  • The driver jumps out of the carriage, and Monseigneur asks what is the matter. A man huddles over a small bundle, which turns out to be a child that the carriage had struck. The man shrieks, "Killed! Dead!" A crowd gathers around the sad scene, and Monseigneur eyes them all.
  • He coldly declares, "'It is extraordinary to me that you people cannot take care of yourselves and your children. One or the other of you is forever in the way. How do I know what injury you have done to my horses? See!'“
  • He takes a gold coin out of his purse and indifferently flicks it for the grieving man. Monsieur Defarge joins the crowd, telling the grieving man, "'I know it all, I know it all. Be a brave man, my Gaspard! It is better for the poor plaything to die so, than to live. It has died in a moment without pain. Could it have lived an hour as happily?‘”
  • Monseigneur declares the man a philosopher and throws him another gold coin. Someone who he cannot see throws one of the coins back at him, and he demands to know who it is. He declares that they are all dogs and that he'd gladly run any of them over. The crowd watches in stunned silence.
  • Madame Defarge, who is observing the scene with her ever-present knitting, fixes him with an icy stare. He proceeds on, and Madame Defarge continues her knitting, "with the steadfastness of Fate.”
literary devices
Literary Devices:

Hyperbole:A deliberate overstatement or exaggeration:

“Monseigneur was about to take his chocolate. Monseigneur could swallow a great many things with ease, and was by some few sullen minds supposed to be rather rapidly swallowing France” (105).

Alliteration: Dickens uses a lot of repetition of initial consonant sounds when describing the officers of the order of Monseigneur:

“...brazen ecclesiastics, of the worst world worldly, with sensual eyes, loose tongues, and looser lives; all totally unfit for their several callings” (107).

Sarcasm: In this passage, describing the system in which people were executed, the narrator wonders who could possibly doubt that a system based around a made-up, gold-laced, high-heeled, silk-stocking-wearing hangman wouldn’t outlast the stars themselves: “‘And who among the company at Monseigneur’s reception in that seventeen hundred and eightieth year of our Lord, could possibly doubt, that a system rooted in a frizzled hangman, powdered, gold-laced, pumped, and white-silk stockinged, would see the very stars out! “ (109).


Essential Quote

“I devote you... to the Devil"(109).

Hear this chapter read aloud.