Madame Defarge

Madame Defarge

Madame Thérèse Defarge is a fictional character in the book A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. She is a tricoteuse, a tireless worker for the French Revolution and the wife of Ernest Defarge.

She is arguably the main villain of the book, and ruthlessly seeks revenge against the Evrèmondes, including Charles Darnay, his wife Lucie Manette and their child for crimes a prior generation of the Evrèmonde family had committed. These crimes include the deaths of her sister, brother, and father. Eventually, her quest for vengeance became her own undoing and results in her downfall and death.

Defarge represents one aspect of the Fates. The Moirae (the Fates as represented in Greek mythology) used yarn to measure out the life of a man, and cut it to end it; Defarge knits, and her knitting secretly encodes the names of those people she will have killed.

Cinematic and Theatrical Portrayals

In the 1935 film A Tale of Two Cities, Madame Defarge is played by Blanche Yurka.

In the 1958 film A Tale of Two Cities, Madame Defarge is played by Rosalie Crutchley.

In the 1981 Mel Brooks film, History of the World, Part I, Madame Defarge (played by Cloris Leachman) is the chief conspirator in the plot to overthrow King Louis XVI. She has become so poor, she has run out of wool, simply rubbing her knitting needles together.

In the 2008 Broadway musical adaptation of 'A Tale of Two Cities,' Madame Defarge is played by Natalie Toro loko.


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