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Justice by Jeremy Keeshin

Justice is a broad fellow. He exists in all facets of life from the courtrooms to the

classrooms the to the streets to the utmost ends of the universe. Justice is equally as

ubiquitous in the world as the offenses that ignite him. Justice embodies the many traits

of adolescent acne in the fact that he is persistent, and right when you think he has

disappeared, he reappears to smack one in the face. Justice is the adamant human greed to

get even and avenge those who in his eyes deserve punishment. Justice is revenge in a

mask. Justice, however, is malleable when it exists between individuals and between

societies. Individual justice is a much more selfish item, maybe occurring with a

disappointed student complaining for a better grade, or a coach complaining because of a

bad call, or something of the like. Individual justice can be achieved by standing up for

one’s beliefs and holding strongly to them. Social justice is a different case. Social justice

is a workers strike for better wages, a march for equality or something in that area. Social

Justice is achieved by strength in numbers, and being relentless to achieve their cause.

Social and individual justice have some similar components, however they have aspects

that vary. Charles Dickens exemplifies both of these types of justice thoroughly in his

novel A Tale of Two Cities. There is the element of the individual as well as the group

seeking equality as the book goes through the rebellious times of the French Revolution.

The French Revolution truly is the axis to which the justice in the book revolves.

The peasants are in their constant struggle to overthrow the French government and seek

the Guillotine as a measure of compensation. The peasant overthrow of the Bastille and

the general French Revolution are the main examples of social justice. The general public

felt they had been wronged by the aristocracy and therefore attacked them relentlessly.
However, in this book there are better examples of justice achieved against or for an

individual. The same day that the Bastille was taken the wealthy Foulon was also killed.

As the reader, we see the initial reason that Foulon is targeted when Defarge asks the

revolutionaries: “Does everybody here recall old Foulon, who told the famished people

that they might eat grass and who died, and went to Hell?” (Dickens 202). After this we

see the fate that happened to old Foulon. After Foulon died “his head was soon upon a

pike, with grass enough in the mouth for all Saint Antoine to dance at the sight of”

(Dickens 204). This is a prime example of justice because they got Foulon back with

what he threatened to get them with. He threatened the people to eat grass, and they killed

him and stuffed grass in his mouth. This is the epitome of an eye for an eye, revolution

style.

Madame Defarge is also trying to achieve justice throughout the novel. We find

out near the end that she is the lost little sister of the brother and sister that the

Evrémonde brothers killed. Because of this she is determined to get revenge on Darnay

the son of one of the brothers. Her doggedness in finding the rest of the race is evident

when she says, “Tell wind and fire where to stop; not me!” (Dickens 312). The idea that

the she is more unstoppable than the inevitable elements is a scary thought, and shows the

depth to which she seeks this justice.

A last example showing the justice in the novel A Tale of Two Cities deals with the

character Monsieur the Marquis. In the chapter entitled “Monseigneur in Town”

Monsieur the Marquis runs over and kills Gaspard’s child, and feels no remorse

whatsoever about the incident. Later in the chapter “The Gorgon’s Head” justice is

achieved when Gaspard goes and kills Monsieur the Marquis. The death of the Marquis
was told to us indirectly by Dickens when he described how “The Gorgon had surveyed

the building again in the night, and had added one stone face wanting; the stone face for

which it had waited through about two hundred years” (116). The death of the Marquis

was the quid pro quo exchange between Gaspard and the Marquis. The Marquis took the

life of his child, and Gaspard took the life of the Marquis.

Throughout the novel A Tale of Two Cities justice was served. Their actions may

have been a little severe, because of the fact that the only fair punishment at the time of

the Revolution was death. The nature of justice as exemplified in the novel shows how

justice can take many forms. It can be to avenge a family member, like in the case of

Madame Defarge and Gaspard, or it could be to settle the score regarding something said

or done. This proves that justice has changed throughout time, however, the fundamental

aspects have remained the same, the ultimate objective is to get back what you think is

right and just.