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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Tale Of Two Cities Week: The Defarges

When I first discover a liking for a book, I like all of it as a whole.  Then, after I've read it a couple (or more) times, I start analyzing it more and sifting through what I do and don't like.  My love for the book still remains strong, but the particulars – the units, you could call them – of said book rise and fall in my estimation.  And it's usually the characters more than anything else.  A lot of times, a character's likeability (or lack thereof) is more focused on their relateableness and complexity than whether they are 'good' or 'bad' (although I always hate the truly evil characters).  Such was the case with Earnest Defarge and Theresa Defarge from A Tale Of Two Cities (I actually don't like Mme. Defarge at all in the book, but the musical is a different matter).  

When I first read the book (an abridged version, I admit), I just cast them as black, ominous villains with no real characteristics other than the fact that they were bad.  However, I love reading into things in books/movies (it's a great weakness of mine, actually) and so, rather unconsciously, my opinion of M. Defarge (in the book) and Mme. Defarge (in the musical) began to change.  This post will probably be shorter/less coherent than the others during this week because, as I write this (in preparation of scheduling it), I'm sick and, let me tell you, writing a Deep & Serious blog post while one is sick is hard.  But I'll do my best.  First, I'll start with Earnest Defarge (henceforth referred to as plain 'Defarge').

I believe Defarge is actually a good man, at heart.  He remained faithful to Dr Manette, even after he had lost his mind in prison (although, now that I think of it, might he only have been keeping Dr Manette in the tavern to stoke the revolutionary fervour?) and he tries to stop his wife from bringing harm to Lucie and her child (because they are related to Dr Manette).  Now, granted, he doesn't try very hard (probably since his wife would as soon send him to the guillotine as anyone else) or at least as hard as he could have, but I suppose the thought is what counts.  Basically, he lets his wife run the revolution (or, at least their part of it) and just stays in the sidelines.  In the musical, he's given a stronger character, in my opinion, where he and his wife work together well and, as I mentioned earlier, he genuinely mourns her death.  I much prefer him in the musical.

Mme. Defarge.  Now there's an interesting character.  Ally once pointed out that her and Lucie's back-stories are remarkably similar – both were hurt by the Evremonde family in some way or another – but the way the two women reacted was completely different.  Whereas Lucie moved on with her life and created a family out of her hardships, Mme. Defarge grew increasingly bitter until she would have gladly killed innocent women and children just to get her revenge.  And that's book-Mme. Defarge in a nutshell.  Now, musical-Mme. Defarge isn't that much different, but I do find her a bit more sympathetic.  For one, her solo 'Out of Sight, Out of Mind' is pretty sad (in a scary kind of way).  But it's during 'The Tale' where it all really comes out (literally/figuratively).  When she sings “All those years in the dark...” in that heartbroken  I've got to admit I was moved by that.

Interesting Fact To Wrap Up This Blog Post:  Sierra and I were once talking about how Natalie Toro (she portrays Mme. Defarge in the concert) would be amazing for Eponine if she were younger because of her strong belt.  And then I was browsing a musical theatre board and I discovered that she had played Eponine.  I was completely and totally thrilled and immediately went off to Youtube to see if there were any bootlegs of her performance.  There wasn't really any, but I did find a few seconds of her singing 'On My Own' in an Eponine comparison video.  She sounds amazing (and apparently she was the first American to join the Les Mis cast) and it's better than nothing, right?



Lydia said...

I am sorry you're sick, I'll be praying for you to get better. I agree with you 100% on this post. And fr someone being sick, you did a superb job in writing it

Eva said...

Well, I'm pretty much better now :) Thanks for your prayers, though!

Miss Jane Bennet said...

Yep, yep and...yep. I agree with this post. =)

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