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Chapter Twenty-two: The Sea Rises
A week after the storming of the Bastille, Defarge enters the wine shop. He tells the others that Foulon, an aristocrat who faked his own death to protect himself, is still alive. Some villagers have found him hiding in the country and have brought him in for trial. As the drums start beating in the street, Madame Defarge grabs her knife. Outside, a fierce woman called The Vengeance utters terrific shrieks and flails her arms. She rushes from house to house, arousing all the women and whipping them into a fury for the blood of Foulon.
As the crowd rushes to the Hall of Justice, the Defarges, the Vengeance, and Jacques Three are right in front. The mob, unable to wait for the trial to end, rushes in to the building and drags Foulon out. They hang him from a lamppost outside the Hall of Justice and stuff his mouth full of grass, for he had suggested that this was an appropriate food for the peasants. The patriots, as the revolutionaries now call themselves, then decapitate him and display Foulon's head for all to see.
This chapter describes the savage turn that the Revolution takes. The patriots are in a frenzy for revenge and retribution against the aristocracy, as illustrated by the brutal murder of Foulon. Madame Defarge, as a key symbol of the revolutionaries, has changed from a silent, impassive observer into a diabolic avenger. She is now accompanied by a shrieking woman called The Vengeance. These two women represent the senseless violence caused by a mob; it is not a pretty picture of the Victorian female and a total contrast to the perfectly depicted Lucie.
The theme of resurrection, of coming back to life, surfaces again. Foulon, like the police spy Roger Cly, had faked death and arranged his own funeral to protect himself from the wrath of the Revolution. The discovery that he is alive incites the patriots to a fury that knows no bounds. Dickens, who normally sympathizes with the plight of the downtrodden, does not side with the rioting mob that inflicts senseless violence.
The irony of the Revolution is underlined at the end of the chapter. After the revolutionaries have been on their bloody rampage, they go back home to their same existence. Nothing has really changed, for poverty and hunger are still rampant among the masses. The only change that has really taken place is that one oppressor has been replaced by another. According to Dickens, the belief that a revolution causes a better and more just society remains an illusion.