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Thomas Carlyle: The French Revolution: Language

The breathless style is evident here, not least from all the exclamation marks! Carlyle uses collective nouns to elevate and dignify the events, especially the actions of the crowd: ‘the multitude flows on’, ‘ever wider swells the tide of men’, even the ironic ‘new deputation of citizens (it is the third, and noisiest of all)’ to refer to the crowd bursting into the Outer Court. Significantly, Carlyle avoids the emotive term ‘mob’, even though that was the standard term used to describe the crowd, both when it was rioting, as here, and in its everyday existence on the outer fringes of society. Carlyle’s use of language creates vivid imagery, though it sometimes demands a second reading to bring out the full meaning.

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