Tandis que j'agonise

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William Faulkner

This chapter reveals the secret behind Dr. Manette’s imprisonment.  In 1757, the Marquis St. Evrémonde and his brother came to Dr. Manette, seeking medical help for two people in their care.  Dr. Manette went with them, where he was told to care for two peasants, a woman and her brother.  The brother told Dr. Manette how they came to be ill and under the control of the Evrémondes.  After killing the woman’s husband and father, the two men had raped her.  Her brother took their younger sister away to keep her safe, then came back to rescue his other sister.  One of the Evrémondes, who were twin brothers, stabbed him.  Both the woman and her brother died.  The Evrémondes told Dr. Manette not to tell anyone about what had occurred. Dr. Manette decided that he could not live with that injustice, and decided to report the brothers, whose names he did not know.  The older Evrémonde’s wife (Darnay’s mother) came to him, gave him their names, and asked for Dr. Manette’s help in finding the surviving sister from the family so that she could help her.  Dr. Manette delivered his letter to the court.  However, the Evrémondes’ influence kept them from seeing justice.  They saw the letter and arranged to have Dr. Manette kidnapped.  At the end of the document describing the story, Dr. Manette denounces the Evrémonde family. 

Clearly, Dr. Manette was not denouncing Darnay, who not only played no role in what happened to the peasants, but who was also trying to make amends to them.  He may have been angry enough to make such a statement while in jail, but he was aware of Darnay’s identity and still permitted the man to marry his daughter.  However, the spectators in the courtroom go crazy when they hear Dr. Manette’s letter.  The jury sentences Darnay to death, and he is to be executed the next day.

Clearly, Dr. Manette’s story is the culmination of all of the hints and secrecy that have heretofore characterized A Tale of Two Cities.  The secret behind Dr. Manette’s imprisonment has finally been revealed.  Moreover, the reader begins to understand some elements of the novel that previously seemed incomprehensible, such as why Dr. Manette was so upset by Darnay and Lucie’s marriage despite his affectionate feelings for Darnay.  The reader also realizes that Darnay originally met Dr. Manette and Lucie when trying to carry out his mother’s wishes and locate the missing peasant girl in order to try to make amends to her.

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