The peasant child, which in some ways

The nobles and peasants’ similar use of the word “extermination” demonstrates the corruption of morality that their power has caused. At the beginning of the novel, it is the nobles who hold power over the lower class. The cruelty and lack of empathy as a result of this corrupting power is highlighted through the interactions the Marquis has with the common people during his travels. In response to running over a child, he declares, “I would run over any of you very willingly, and exterminate you from the earth” (Dickens 112). The Marquis’ use of the word “exterminate” establishes the nobles’ belief that the peasants, like vermin, should be wiped out. The power and prestige they hold blinds them to the worth of each individual beyond their social class. Not only does the Marquis lack any compassion for the peasants, but he views the killing of the child as “a right of his station, he takes no passionate satisfaction from the killing; he takes only a numbed confirmation of his status” (Kucich 103). The Marquis has no motive to murder the peasant child, which in some ways makes his complete lack of remorse even more terrible. The power he possesses has corrupted him so much that he believes it is right to kill a child beneath him if he wishes. The dismissiveness he exhibits towards the situation is a testament to how little he cares for those who do not hold the same power or wealth as himself. The corrupted members of the upper class, however, soon face the repercussions of their actions. The French Revolution places the power of the nobility into the hands of the peasants. Unfortunately, it is not long before this power corrupts them in the same way it did the nobility. This is evident in a conversation between the revolutionaries, in which Monsieur Defarge remarks, “‘But one must stop somewhere. After all, the question is still where?’ ‘At extermination,’ said Madame” (Dickens 344). The paralleled use of the word “extermination” is significant, as it demonstrates that the peasants now view the aristocrats with the same heartlessness and contempt that was once directed towards them. Rather than realizing that not every Second Estate member is guilty of corruption, the peasants see only the wealth and status the nobles formerly held. As a result, they now believe it is their right to take the lives of the nobles. This lack of morality that cycles through the upper and lower class creates a clear connection between the power they hold and the corruption they embody.