Marquis St. Evrémonde
|Marquis St. Evrémonde|
|A Tale of Two Cities character|
The Evrémonde brothers (left) by Fred Barnard, 1870s
|Created by||Charles Dickens|
|Portrayed by||Basil Rathbone|
|Nickname(s)||Monsieur the Marquis|
The Marquis or Monseigneur St. Evrémonde appears (in life) for only three chapters in Book the Second, symbolizing the pitiless, arrogant, French aristocracy. About 60 years old, with a face like a mask, he is Charles Darnay's uncle and twin brother of Charles Darnay's father (now deceased).
While still handsome, fashionable, and exquisitely poised, the Marquis St. Evrémonde is slightly disliked by other nobility. In "Monseigneur in Town", Marquis St. Evrémonde is ignored by the Monseigneur at the latter's Parisian reception. Snubbed, he waits until all Monseigneur's sycophants and hangers-on file out, then murmurs a curse sending Monseigneur to the Devil. (Note that the curse is uttered in a mirrored salon, possibly suggesting that it rebounds on the speaker.) Marquis St. Evrémonde heads for his Chateaux at the usual, break-neck pace. Although most peasants scatter in terror, his carriage runs over a little child, that child being one of Gaspard's. The Marquis shows no remorse at the sight of the crushed body — inquiring whether his horses are alright — and, "with the air of a gentleman who had accidentally broke some common thing, and had paid for it", throws a gold coin to the aggrieved father. The Defarges appear—Ernest Defarge to comfort the grieving Gaspard; Madame Defarge to stand erect, stare at the Marquis boldly in the face and knit his Fate. This scene foreshadows the oncoming revolution in France.
Marquis St. Evrémonde appears in the two following chapters "Monseigneur in the Country" (when he is told that someone was hanging on to the bottom of his carriage) and "the "Gorgon's Head" (dining with his nephew, Charles Darnay).
During said dinner between uncle and nephew, Charles Darnay apologizes for being detained in London. He alludes to his danger there (his recent treason trial) wondering aloud if his uncle didn't in fact orchestrate the accusations brought against him. Charles further believes that if his uncle the Marquis were still in the French Court's good graces, he would obtain a lettre de cachet and have Charles imprisoned in France. His uncle confesses that "for the honor of the family," he would do exactly that.
The dinner conversation between uncle and nephew reveals their diametrically opposed view of the peasantry. St. Evrémonde the elder considers it a divine duty to subjugate "the Vulgar", ("Repression is the only lasting philosophy..."), recalling one peasant poniarded in his very bedroom for "professing some insolent delicacy respecting his daughter". Charles Darnay, by contrast, hopes to honor his mother’s dying wish by ameliorating the wrongs the family has caused. When his uncle laughs at this, Charles renounces his rights to the Evrémonde title and lands in favor of a new life in London. His uncle, slyly, already knows that this "new life" includes an emigree doctor and his daughter.
They retire for the night.
At the conclusion of Chapter 9, the Marquis is found stabbed to death in his bed. “The Gorgon had surveyed the building again in the night, and had added the one stone face wanting" (Chapter 9). All of his property is inherited by Darnay.
The Marquis St. Evrémonde is referred to as "Monseigneur" and "Monsieur." These three different titles all refer to the same person: people who are below the Marquis in rank refer to him as "Monseigneur" or "Monsieur," while people of equal rank refer to him as the "Marquis." Note also that the patronym "Evrémonde", suggests an Anglo-French conglomerate, ("every" plus "tout le monde"). Phonetically, it sounds like “Everyman.”
Cinematic and Theatrical Portrayals
In the 2008 Broadway musical adaptation of 'A Tale of Two Cities,' the Marquis St. Evrémonde is played by Les Minski, while on film he has been played by such actors as Basil Rathbone, Christopher Lee, and Max Adrian. In 2003, the Rathborne portrayal of St. Evrémonde was nominated for AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains as one of the Top 50 Villains.
- Dickens 2003, (Book 2, Chapter 7).
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains Nominees