College English 249-09
December 19, 2000
December 19, 2000
Doctor Manette's Role in A Tale of Two Cities
Individual characters often exist as the heart of the novel. They contain dynamic characteristics and occupy a central position in the novel. In A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens uses Doctor Manette as the core of his novel, Doctor Manette "is a worthy hero and a crucial piece in the puzzle"(Glancy 75). His personality and story thrusts him into the spotlight throughout the book. The novel revolves around his character. A Tale of Two Cities evolved from Doctor Manette's story. He has witnessed the aftermath of a rape and assault committed by two twin nobles, the Evrémondes, and is forbidden to speak of it; " the things that you see here are things to be seen and not spoken of" (Dickens 325). But when Manette tries to report these crimes he is locked up in the Bastille. The novel is then built up through Doctor Manette's cruel and unjustified imprisonment and the events following his release from prison(Lindsay 103). That is how he becomes the core of the novel. Upon the opening of the novel Dr. Manette is a weak and horrific man. He is a man "recalled to life" (Dickens 24) from an eighteen-year imprisonment and has the appearance of an aged man having white hair and a ragged face; "he is a ghost, the empty shell of a man" (Glancy 69). He is very confused, so confused he cannot recall any of his past or even Kosky 2
remember his name. "The experience of oppressive misery has not merely twisted him it has broken down the whole system of memory in his psyche" (Lindsay 104). He is a mere victim of the past. "Dr. Manette has been driven mad, broken and goaded into a destroying curse, by eighteen years of unjust imprisonment in the Bastille" (Johnson 30). He is too accustomed to imprisonment to be able to bear freedom, which was true of many prisoners during the Revolution. But he is resurrected at the sight of his daughter, who stimulates the memory of his wife with her "threads of gold", or her golden hair. It is the likeness between Lucie and her mother that brings him back from the dead. "Lucie Manette is the primary reconciler and preserver- her golden thread' represents an attempt to weave together factions " (Kucich 68). Doctor Manette is brought back to physical and mental health due to one person, his daughter. "Doctor Manette continues to be a dual personality, half Lucie's father, restored to life, half her mother's husband, the ghostly dug-up remains of an eighteen year burial" (Glancy 70). Because of the presence of his daughter in his life, Doctor Manette was able to retain the life he once knew, a life of mental stability and becomes the man once known by Lucie's mother, " and the sound of her [Lucie] voice, the light of her face, the touch of her hand, had a strong beneficial influence with him [Doctor Manette]" (Dickens 76). Even when he is just around Lucie he becomes a totally different man, "on his speaking to his daughter-he became a handsome man, not past the prime of his life" (Dickens 73). Lucie is a devoted daughter and takes good care of her father and Doctor Manette would do just about anything for his daughter, "if there were any fancies, any reasons, any apprehensions, anything whatsoever, Kosky 3
new or old, against the man she [Lucie] really loved- the direct responsibility thereof not lying on his head- they should all be obliterated for her sake. She is everything to me; more to me than suffering, more to me than wrong "(Dickens 162-163). Doctor Manette is willing to sacrifice his happiness for Charles Darnay and his daughter. Manette even pushes aside his "natural antipathy" (Dickens 413) towards the Evrémonde family, whom Darnay is an ancestor of. But Doctor Manette is still reminded of his...