In classical mythology, three sister gods called the Fates controlled the threads of human lives. A Tale of Two Cities adapts the classical Fates in two ways. As she knits the names of her enemies, Madame Defarge is effectively condemning people to a deadly fate. On the other hand, as Lucie weaves her "golden thread" through people's lives, she binds them into a better destiny: a tightly-knit community of family and close friends. In each case, Dickens suggests that human destinies are either predetermined by the force of history or they are tied into a larger pattern than we as individuals realize.
Knitting and the Golden Thread Quotes in A Tale of Two Cities
The A Tale of Two Cities quotes below all refer to the symbol of Knitting and the Golden Thread. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of A Tale of Two Cities published in 2003.).
Book 2, Chapter 4 Quotes
Only his daughter had the power of charming this black brooding from his mind. She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and to a Present beyond his misery: and the sound of her voice, the light of her face, the touch of her hand, had a strong beneficial influence with him almost always.
Book 2, Chapter 16 Quotes
Another darkness was closing in as surely, when the church bells, then ringing pleasantly in many an airy steeple over France, should be melted into thundering cannon; when the military drums should be beating to drown a wretched voice, that night all potent as the voice of Power and Plenty, Freedom and Life. So much was closing in about the women who sat knitting, knitting, that they their very selves were closing in around a structure yet unbuilt, where they were to sit knitting, knitting, counting dropping heads.
Knitting and the Golden Thread Symbol Timeline in A Tale of Two Cities
The timeline below shows where the symbol Knitting and the Golden Thread appears in A Tale of Two Cities. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 2, Chapter 4
...can still become gloomy, but this occurs only occasionally because Lucie serves as a "golden thread" linking him to his life before and after his imprisonment. Stryver, Dr. Manette, and Lucie... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 7
Book 2, Chapter 15
...castle and the entire Evrémonde race should be exterminated. Another Jacques points to Madame Defarge's knitting, which lists in its stitching the names of everyone the revolutionaries mean to kill. (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 16
Book 2, Chapter 21
Book 3, Chapter 3
...She gratefully kisses one of Madame Defarge's hands, but Madame Defarge coldly withdraws to her knitting. Lucie pleads for Madame Defarge to help Charles, to use her influence as a "sister-woman."... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 6
...Evrémonde, called Darnay." Defarge and Madame Defarge sit in the front row. Madame Defarge is knitting away. Charles is sentenced to death as an emigrant, despite the fact that the law... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 15