The Storming of The Bastille

The Storming of The Bastille

Imagine the Bastille


The Bastille, as you may remember from your research, was a prison that French Revolutionaries took over because it was regarded as a symbol of government oppression.

Close your eyes. Listen carefully as your teacher reads the description of the storming of the Bastille aloud to you twice.

Imagine the scene as fully as you can.

  • Now read the passage over silently, and annotate the words and phrases that seem powerful or symbolic.

Language of the Bastille Scene

Work Time

When you have completed annotating, rejoin the whole class and do the following.

  • Share with the class your observations about the language of the passage.
  • What words or phrases are the most powerful or symbolic?
  • What is the mood ?

The Women

Work Time

The description of the women during these revolutionary scenes echoes a scene from an ancient Greek play in which a group of women, followers of Dionysus, god of chaos and destruction, seek revenge against one of the rulers because he does not worship Dionysus.

These scenes of course are similar because they describe women who are seeking revenge against a ruler. Now join a partner as directed and do the following.

  • Read the passages in Comparing the Bacchae.
  • Find other ways in which the descriptions of the women are similar.
  • Highlight and annotate phrases that seem similar.

Reflection on the Women

Work Time

When you and your partner have completed your analysis, join with another partner group as directed and discuss the following.

  • What is the impression that you get of the women in these scenes?
  • Why do you think that Dickens makes this allusion to the Bacchae (women followers of Dionysus)?
  • These women are not like Lucie or like the Victorian ideal. In fact, what is the image of Madame Defarge here? Point to key passages that describe her actions in these chapters. In particular, review the paragraph from Chapter 21 that begins, “In the howling universe ...”

When your group has completed discussing the questions, rejoin the rest of the class and share your thoughts.

Lucie Quick Write


In a Quick Write, compare the image of the women in France to the image of Lucie in Chapter 21 by considering the following questions.

  • What has life been like for Lucie in England?
  • Why, at the end of Chapter 21, does the narrator say, “Keep these feet far out of her life?”
  • What is the impact of narrative comments like the one above?

Open Notebook

When you have completed your writing, rejoin the class and share your ideas.