Character Analysis Doctor Alexandre Manette

Character Analysis Doctor Alexandre Manette

 Character Analysis Doctor Alexandre Manette : In the classic Charles Dickens novel, ‘A Tale of Two Cities,’ Dr. Manette embodies the triumph of good over evil. Explore the character’s story arc and review some supporting quotes from the novel. 

Character Analysis Doctor Alexandre Manette

 A Tale of Two Cities is, in many ways, Doctor Manette’s story. The Doctor’s release from the Bastille begins the novel, and the mystery of his imprisonment creates tension throughout the book. The reading of his letter ultimately condemns Darnay to death, forcing Carton to sacrifice his life. Despite the Doctor’s centrality to the book, however, many people portray him as a weak, pitiful character, especially in theater or film productions of A Tale of Two Cities. Such a perception does the Doctor and the story a great disservice.

A close reading of the book reveals the Doctor to be one of its few complex characters. Throughout the course of the novel, he is seen as an aspiring young doctor, a prisoner who craves revenge and who descends into madness, and a man who fights to regain his mind, his family, and his profession. His life after prison is a continual struggle against the shadows of madness and despair that are his legacy from the Bastille. The love he has for his daughter helps him to overcome the darkness in his life, even giving him the strength to welcome the son of his enemy as a son-in-law. When his status as a Bastille prisoner becomes an asset at the end of the book, he regains the strength and confidence that characterized him before his imprisonment. When his bitter, angry letter surfaces, however, the past undermines his stability.

Through the Doctor, Dickens makes a statement regarding the nature of forgiveness and revenge. The Doctor’s ability to forgive brings him happiness in his daughter’s marriage and children. However, his past demand for revenge has the power to destroy his life and the lives of his family. Additionally, whereas revenge leads the Doctor to a state of dementia, forgiveness raises him to a level of intellectual vigor and emotional happiness. In showing these contrasting aspects of Doctor Manette’s character, Dickens emphasizes the concepts of the destructive power of revenge and the healing power of forgiveness.

Dr. Manette: Character Analysis & Quotes

What does Alexandre Manette Represent

Doctor Manette evokes sympathy, as he is a victim of the pre-French Revolution era. To tell it briefly, Dr. Manette is a successful French physician who is stopped by two French aristocrats, the Evremonde brothers, as he walks home one evening. They brandish weapons and demand that he come with them to help two injured people on their property.

As it turns out, one of the men has raped a young woman, and she is delirious. When her little brother tries to defend her, one brother fatally stabs him with a sword. Their story is horrific. Although the Evremonde brothers swear Doctor Manette to secrecy, he sends a statement about their criminal actions to the governing authorities, only to be imprisoned in the Bastille as a result. He is rescued when the Bastille falls, but he has lost much of his identity and compulsively cobbles shoes to ward off the horrors of long imprisonment. Manette is eventually reconciled with his loving daughter, Lucie, where he recovers under her care in England.


How does someone who is so wronged learn to forgive? Dr. Manette provides a compelling example for us. He is unjustly imprisoned and then released due to the fall of the Bastille. He becomes a lowly shoemaker and has forgotten his own identity. When he is asked if he ‘cares to be recalled to life,’ his only answer is ‘I can’t say.’

His daughter, Lucie, loves him unconditionally, and he is restored to physical and mental health through her unwavering devotion. Still, his experience scars him for life. Dickens writes that certain things could ‘draw a gloom over him, as incomprehensible to those unacquainted with his story as if they had seen the shadow of the actual Bastille thrown upon him by a summer sun, when the substance was three hundred miles away.’

However, Dickens illustrates Lucie’s healing influence upon Manette by stating, ‘Only his daughter had the power of charming this black brooding from his mind. She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and to a Present beyond his misery: and the sound of her voice, the light of her face, the touch of her hand, had a strong beneficial influence with him almost always.’

The Ironic Twist

In a twist of irony, his daughter, Lucie, falls in love with Charles Darnay, the nephew of his enemy, the Marquis Evremonde. Darnay has kept his identity a secret because he wants nothing to do with his evil uncle. Darnay tells Dr. Manette his secret on the morning of his wedding to Lucie. This news sends Dr. Manette into a state of relapse. Not only does he have to relive the horror of his past, but his daughter is marrying the nephew of his worst enemy.

In a psychologically healing part of the story, Dr. Manette must come to terms with his old pain, and the symbolic distraction of shoemaking that he retreats towards when he learns of Darnay’s identity. Manette, himself, calls his pain ‘an old companion.’ In some ways, Darnay’s openness has provided an opportunity for Dr. Manette to face his pain and fears and release them with the help of dear and trusted friends.


Book Three, chapter ten gives us the largest text of lines by Dr. Manette, as a letter that he secretly wrote while he was imprisoned in the Bastille is read to the court, essentially damning the Marquis Evremonde. In this letter, he relates how he came to be stopped one night by the Evremonde brothers and is basically forced to attend to two victims who the Evremonde’s have harmed.

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