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A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

  

by Charles Dickens

Doctor Manette Timeline and Summary

  • 1757: It’s late at night. The doctor is out walking near his residence by the medical college.
  • Suddenly, a carriage races by. The driver calls Doctor Manette’s name and the carriage screeches to a halt.
  • Inside the carriage, two men sit in the dark.
  • They inform him that he needs to come with them to see to some patients.
  • Doctor Manette has misgivings, but he gets in the carriage.
  • Soon the carriage arrives at a country house. As they go in the gate, one of the men strikes the gate-keeper with his glove.
  • Inside the house, he finds a patient who appears to be suffering from brain fever.
  • She’s a beautiful young woman, and she seems to see about twenty.
  • As the doctor approaches her, she moans, "My husband, my father, and my brother!" and then counts to twelve and whispers, "Hush!"
  • Puzzled, Doctor Manette listens as she repeats the same phrases over and over.
  • When he asks the brothers how long this has lasted, they say she’s been screaming since last night.
  • After a few hours, the elder brother says that there’s actually another patient in the house, as well.
  • Surprised, the doctor follows the brothers out into the barn.
  • A young man lies in the hay. He’s been stabbed.
  • Astonished, Doctor Manette asks to see the wound.
  • The young man refuses. He’s dying. He doesn’t want to be treated.
  • As Doctor Manette looks at the man, he realizes that he’s been stabbed with a sword.
  • Suddenly they can all hear the young girl screaming again. The boy asks if Doctor Manette has seen her.
  • He tells the doctor that the girl is his sister. She was kidnapped and raped by one of the brothers.
  • Gasping for breath, the young boy curses the nobles and all of their family. Then he dies.
  • Doctor Manette returns to the young woman. After sitting with her for days, he slowly realizes that she’s pregnant.
  • At that point, he realizes that she’s given up any desire to live at all.
  • When the Marquis asks Doctor Manette how his patient is doing, he says that she’s almost dead.
  • The Marquis says something slighting about the amazing strength of the poor.
  • Doctor Manette replies that there’s often great strength in despair.
  • That’s when the nobles realize that they can’t trust Manette.
  • Once the girl dies, the Marquis offers Doctor Manette gold. He turns it down.
  • Troubled by all of this, Doctor Manette writes a letter to the Minister of State explaining the situation.
  • The brothers intercept the letter and lock Doctor Manette in prison for eighteen years.
  • During that time, he writes a document that relates this history and buries it in the prison wall.
  • 1775: Doctor Manette has been released from prison, but his mind is broken.
  • He’s staying with the Defarges.
  • Defarge introduces Mr. Lorry, but Doctor Manette seems to have forgotten him completely.
  • In fact, when he’s asked what his own name is, Doctor Manette replies, "One Hundred and Five, North Tower."
  • After an awkward pause, Mr. Lorry asks if Doctor Manette has been a shoemaker all his life.
  • The doctor replies that he actually learned how to make shoes in prison.
  • Flustered, Mr. Lorry asks if he remembers nothing about a banker from long ago.
  • For a moment, Doctor Manette thinks he remembers something… but it’s too far off, too long ago.
  • Lucie approaches him. He recognizes her hair.
  • Slowly, he begins to remember. Lucie puts her arms around him and promises to tell him some other time who her mother and father were.
  • For now, though, she promises to take care of him.
  • As they leave the room, Lucie asks her father if he remembers coming to this place. He doesn’t.
  • In fact, he doesn’t remember anything but being in prison. Everything after that is a blank.
  • 1780: Lucie and Doctor Manette have moved into a lovely house in Soho.
  • The doctor has started up a new practice, and he’s returning to his old self.
  • In many ways, he’s completely dependent on Lucie for his happiness.
  • Doctor Manette and Lucie are called to testify at Charles Darnay’s trial.
  • The doctor says that he can’t positively identify Charles.
  • A few months later, Charles comes to visit Doctor Manette.
  • The doctor’s life has only continued to improve. He’s working all the time, which makes him pretty happy.
  • He hasn’t relapsed into depression or memory loss in a long time.
  • Charles walks into the room and Doctor Manette greets him happily.
  • They haven’t seen each other in a few days: Charles has been busy working with his students, and the doctor has his patients.
  • The doctor remarks that it’s unfortunate that Lucy isn’t around to greet him as well.
  • Charles cuts him short. He knew that Lucie wasn’t in.
  • Sensing that this will be a conversation that he won’t like, Doctor Manette asks Charles to remember how essential Lucie is to his well-being.
  • Charles says he understands. He wouldn’t mention her name—but he loves her too much to keep quiet any longer.
  • Doctor Manette already knows this.
  • He asks Charles if Charles has said anything about his love to Lucie.
  • Charles says that he’ll never approach Lucie without telling Doctor Manette first. In fact, that’s why he’s here.
  • He wants the doctor’s permission to see how Lucie feels about him.
  • Doctor Manette asks if Charles wants him to say anything to Lucie about this conversation.
  • Charles immediately refuses.
  • He knows how much Doctor Manette’s opinion matters to Lucie.
  • But if he told her to think about Charles, she’d marry him—without thinking about whether or not she loved him.
  • Charles doesn’t want this. He asks Doctor Manette not to say anything.
  • What he does ask, however, is that Doctor Manette agree to tell Lucie of this conversation if she comes to her father to talk about Charles.
  • In the interests of full disclosure, Charles also wants to tell Doctor Manette about his past… in France.
  • The doctor seems startled. He immediately shuts Charles down.
  • He doesn’t want to know about Charles's history.
  • Charles and Lucie get married.
  • On the morning of their wedding, Charles tells Doctor Manette about his past.
  • After the wedding, Lucie and Charles leave for their honeymoon. Doctor Manette helps Lucie into the carriage.
  • Mr. Lorry glances worriedly at the doctor. The old scared look has returned to his face.
  • Mr. Lorry decides that he’ll return later in the night to check on the doctor.
  • Sure enough, when he comes back later that evening, Doctor Manette is holed up in his room, working furiously at making shoes.
  • When Mr. Lorry tries to call out to him, the doctor doesn’t even recognize his old friend.
  • He stays that way for ten days.
  • On the tenth day, Mr. Lorry enters the doctor’s bedroom and finds the doctor sitting by his window, reading.
  • He’s a bit pale, sure, but otherwise he seems to be completely back to normal.
  • The change is so drastic, in fact, that Mr. Lorry begins to doubt his own eyes.
  • Mr. Lorry tells Doctor Manette that he needs an expert’s opinion in a hypothetical case.
  • Asking the doctor how good friends should deal with the case of a man who relapsed for nine days, Mr. Lorry tries to gauge how much the doctor actually remembers of his relapse.
  • As it turns out, the doctor doesn’t remember anything.
  • Actually, he says, the man probably has been expecting a relapse of this sort for some time.
  • He finally says that the man had probably been anticipating some information from someone he knew well. When it finally came, his mind crumbled entirely.
  • Surprised, Mr. Lorry asks what the information was.
  • The doctor, of course, can’t say. After all, it’s a hypothetical case.
  • Mr. Lorry gently tells the doctor that the case they’d been discussing also involved some tools: the man who relapse began working again at shoemaking.
  • The doctor seems more disturbed than before.
  • Mr. Lorry asks if it wouldn’t be best for friends of the man to take the shoemaking bench away.
  • Pained by this thought, the doctor explains that the bench was once the only thing that kept him sane.
  • He worked with his hands (making shoes) so that he wouldn’t go crazy while he was in prison.
  • In some ways, then, the bench symbolizes his strength, not his weakness.
  • Mr. Lorry understands this, but he still presses the doctor to get rid of the bench.
  • Finally, the doctor agrees that if the bench could be taken away while the man was out of the house, it might be OK.
  • As soon as he leaves, Miss Pross and Mr. Lorry dismantle his workbench and bury the tools in the yard.
  • 1792: The years have passed happily.
  • Suddenly, Charles goes to France.
  • Doctor Manette and Lucie follow. They think he may be in danger.
  • Doctor Manette, you see, is something of a hero for the patriots. As a former prisoner of the Bastille, he’s untouchable.
  • In fact, he might even have some leverage in getting Charles out of prison.
  • That’s why he and Lucie come to Paris.
  • He decides to use all the influence he has to save Charles.
  • In fact, for the first time since he was released from prison, he seems like a socially powerful man.
  • The doctor becomes the head medical inspector of three prisons. In that position, he’s able to bring back occasional news of Charles.
  • Strangely enough, Mr. Lorry observes that the doctor begins to take pride in his ability to do things for his family.
  • For a long time, Lucie took care of him. Now he’s able to return the favor.
  • He actually gets Charles out of his first trial—but then Charles is arrested later that night.
  • Doctor Manette spends the day trying to free him, but he returns a broken man.
  • He asks again for his workbench and shoes.
  • Doctor Manette finally leaves Paris with his daughter and son-in-law.
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