Defarge's wine shop lies at the center of revolutionary Paris, and throughout the novel wine symbolizes the Revolution's intoxicating power. Drunk on power, the revolutionaries change from freedom fighters into wild savages dancing in the streets and murdering at will. The deep red color of wine suggests that wine also symbolizes blood. When the Revolution gets out of control, blood is everywhere; everyone seems soaked in its color. This symbolizes the moral stains on the hands of revolutionaries. The transformation of wine to blood traditionally alludes to the Christian Eucharist (in which wine symbolizes the blood of Christ), but Dickens twists this symbolism: he uses wine-to-blood to symbolize brutality rather than purification, implying that the French Revolution has become unholy.
Wine Quotes in A Tale of Two Cities
The A Tale of Two Cities quotes below all refer to the symbol of Wine. 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 3, Chapter 2 Quotes
As these ruffians turned and turned, their matted locks now flung forward over their eyes, now flung backward over their necks, some women held wine to their mouths that they might drink; and what with dropping blood, and what with dropping wine, and what with the stream of sparks struck out of the stone, all their wicked atmosphere seemed gore and fire. The eye could not detect one creature in the group free from the smear of blood.
Book 3, Chapter 15 Quotes
Along the Paris streets, the death-carts rumble, hollow and harsh. Six tumbrils carry the day's wine to La Guillotine. All the devouring and insatiate Monsters imagined since imagination could record itself, are fused in the one realisation, Guillotine. … Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms. Sow the same seed of rapacious license and oppression over again, and it will surely yield the same fruit according to its kind.
Wine Symbol Timeline in A Tale of Two Cities
The timeline below shows where the symbol Wine appears in A Tale of Two Cities. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 5
Book 2, Chapter 22
Book 3, Chapter 2
...men covered in blood are turning the grindstone to sharpen swords. Frenzied, blood-smeared women pour wine into the men's mouths. The mob runs howling into the streets with their weapons. (full context)