From A Tale of Two Cities, what is a summary of Dr. Mannette’s imprisonment at the Bastille?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Known as prisoner number 105 North Tower, Dr. Alexandre Manette has been held in the Bastille for eighteen years. During this time, he recorded how he came to be imprisoned there. He describes how he was approached by two identical men one night in December of 1757 and compelled to climb into their carriage which took him to the countryside. Hearing cries from an upper chamber, Manette is led to a beautiful young woman who is bound. She screamed and called out, “My husband, my father, and my brother!”  Then she counted to twelve and said, “Hush!” One of the brothers produces some medicine, and Dr. Manette administers the dosage he needs to her.

Later, one of the brothers tells Manette there is another patient.  Lying on some hay on the ground with a cushion under his head is a peasant boy of no more than seventeen, dying from a wound made by a sword.  When Manette asks one of the noblemen how this injury occurred, the man replied that the boy was “A crazed young common dog” who came at his brother, who was forced to defend himself.

The boy explains that the noblemen have had their way with his sister, who married a good man. His family, he explains, are tenants of the nobles—he calls one of them “the worst of a bad race”--who tax them, pillaged and plundered. One day, he says, the one he calls "the worst of a bad race" spotted his beautiful sister and asked her husband to lend her to him. The husband acquiesces, but his sister refused. So, they harness the man and make him pull a cart; they kept him outside in the “unwholesome mists” all night, and ordered him each day into the harness. Finally, one day when he was taken out of the harness to eat, he fell into the arms of his wife, counting twelve times, and died. The brother then took his sister away for his pleasure.  After learning of this action, the brother hid his younger sister and came with a sword to kill the nobleman.  His violated sister ran in, throwing coins at him, begging him to stop, but he challenged the nobleman, anyway. Finally, calling upon all his strength, the boy tells the nobleman,

"I summon you and yours to the last of your bad race, to answer for them. I mark this cross of blood upon you, as a sign that I do it...."

When Manette returns to the woman, her condition is grave, especially because she is in the early stages of pregnancy. Manette is told by a twin that he must never talk of what he has witnessed.  However, the brothers are careless about their conversations, as though Manette were dying, also. After a week, the woman died.  When the brothers offered him gold, Manette refused it. Later, it was sent to his home, but the physician had decided to write privately to the authorities without mentioning names. He was then visited by the wife of the Marquis St. Evremonde, who hoped to "avert the wrath of Heaven from a House...long hateful to the suffering many" as she was in dread of her husband and his brother. As Manette notices her boy, she says that she fears that atonement for the crimes will be expected.

On the night of the day that Dr. Manette delivered his letter, a man in black garb came to visit him, saying there was an urgent case in the Rue St.Honore. Crossing the road were the two brothers with the letter Manette has written. They burned it, and Manette is taken to prison. As he ends, Manette denounced the Evremonde brothers to Heaven and to earth.

 

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