Posted by: A. Voter | April 24, 2008

Defarge, redux.

“Madame Defarge took up her knitting with great apparent calmness and repose of spirit….”


Well, I’m not sure if this describes me or not. Probably not. I suspect that if you ask anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting me in person to describe me, the words “calmness” and “repose of spirit” would not be the first ones to be used.

Unlike her:

Who was Madame Defarge, anyway? you ask?  Were you sleeping through public school when they taught Charles Dickens in English class, anyway? Sheesh!!

Coles Notes were my huge lifesaver in both public and high school. I could never figure out why they insisted on making us read Shakespeare and Dickens every year for – oh – eight years? Especially when I found out that Dickens got paid by the word to write. Sigh.

So, how do I even know who she is, you ask? Because some of my coworkers bestowed “Madame Defarge” to me as a nickname. So, after 25 odd years, I had to go and find out who she was.

First of all, I reviewed the classic source materials:

… but the source materials were not as informative on her history as I would have hoped. However, luckily for me, well after I left grade eight the internet came along and now on-line versions of Coles Notes proliferate! (I’m surprised the teachers have not protested this en masse, actually…).

So, what did I learn?

Well – she was a subversive knitter of the first order, as it turns out. Apparently, she was a spy for the French revolutionaries, and used her knitting to record the names of the enemies of the Revolution in code.

Pretty wild, eh?

And – you’ve got to like a woman who got to boss around men in the 18th century:

“Take you my knitting,” said Madame Defarge, placing it in her lieutenant’s hands, “and have it ready for me in my usual seat. Keep me my usual chair…”

Besides the predilection for knitting, Madame Defarge had certain other things in common with me apparently – she liked hanging out at…

Now, I rather imagine that in real life, she would have looked like this:

(in other words, what I wish I looked like, minus all the black).

Oh – I should note that the coworkers stopped referring to me as “Madame Defarge” around the time that I started bringing my knitting to staff meetings. I wonder if they started to worry about the sopisticated codes contained within – especially given that I detest staff meetings and tend to mouth off during them as a result.

But fear not, O Coworkers – I have real enemies of the revolution to record!!! For example, this:

contains a record of all of the shameful, left-abandoning exploits of Jumpin’ Jack Flash, toady to the Conservatives current leader of the NDP – which is what passes as the “left” party in Canada today.

And this sophisticated code?

Well – Bob Rae, of course.


The colour of the scarf denotes the champagne nature of his prior socialist attitudes, now apparently long gone since he is making bids for Liberal leadership (although right now he says he’s not. Pull the other one, Bob – it’s got bells on it!)

Oh by the way, I’m not alone in my assessment on Bob. If you’re Canadian and/or extremely bored, check out what Rick Mercer had to say back in 2006 about him and his nonsense.

So, how about this one?

Well, I’m a bit behind the times on this one – maybe. However, I just saw the Trial of Tony Blair and was reminded anew of so-called “leftism” and its possible end results in the wrong hands.

So, if you see a short bushy-haired woman across from you on the subway… beware.  But only if you’re a politician…

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