A Tale of Two Cities Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Why does Monsieur Defarge show Dr. Manette to selected visitors in Tale of Two Cities?

Expert Answers info

mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,150 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Monsieur Defarge, who is now a wine-shop owner, was once the manservant of Dr. Manette. Defarge hides this former prisoner of the Bastille in a garret above the wine shop, but he permits three men of the Jacquerie to view the debilitated aristocrat, who now believes himself a shoemaker. Defarge wants the two Jacques to witness the cruelty of an aristocracy who would imprison one of their own class for eighteen years.

Mr. Lorry and Lucie Manette, who have been in the wine-shop, join Monsieur Defarge at the doorway where he has directed the others to the garret. Defarge kisses Miss Manette's hand, but not with kindness. Then, with "no good humour" in his face, he speaks to Mr. Lorry with the look of a "secret, angry, dangerous man." He tells Mr. Lorry, who is far from young, to be careful ascending the stairs. Further, he informs Mr. Lorry that Dr. Manette is alone because of necessity. Defarge adds that he has taken the former prisoner of the Bastille, who is significantly changed, at his own risk.

"He is greatly changed?" asks Mr. Lorry. "Changed!" is the abrupt reply. Defarge tells Mr. Lorry that the door must always be secured because Manette would be terrified to know the door was unlocked as he would fear what could happen to him. Further, "with a little anger" in his voice, Mr. Lorry asks Defarge,

"Do you make a show of Monsieur Manette?"
"I show him, in the way you have seen, to a chosen few."
"Is that well?"
"I think it is well."
"Who are the few? How do you choose them?"
"I choose them as real men, of my name--Jacques is my name--to whom the sight is likely to do good. Enough; you are English; that is another thing." (Book the First, Ch. V)

Defarge wants the other men to witness the cruelty of the aristocrats, who lock away one of their own for eighteen years so that some secret might be kept. He hopes this sight will inspire the Jacques toward revolution. But, he does not want Mr. Lorry to know what is really being planned.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

dymatsuoka eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write3,287 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Math

Monsieur Defarge shows Dr. Manette to the "Jacques" to inspire them to revolution.

As a former prisoner of the nobility, Dr. Manette is a ruined man, a pathetic figure.  Eighteen years of captivity have left him a shadow of a man, thin, spectral, and unsound of mind.  Dr. Manette in his present state is a stark example of the ruthless cruelty and injustice of the ruling class.

Dr. Manette in his debilitated state is such that Mr. Lorry is incredulous when he sees him.  In utter disbelief, he asks Monsieur Defarge, "Is it possible?", to which Monsieur Defarge responds bitterly,

"Is it possible?...Yes. And a beautiful world we live in, when it is possible, and when many other such things are possible, and not only possible, but done...done, see you...under that sky there, every day".

When Mr. Lorry realizes that Monsieur Defarge "make(s) a show of Monsieur Manette", he is at first angered by the thought that Defarge is exploiting the old doctor.  Monsieur Defarge explains that he only shows him to "a chosen few...real men, of my name...to whom the sight is likely to do good".  In solidarity with the common people, Monsieur Defarge and his fellow revolutionaries call themselves simply "Jacques".  Defarge believes that the pitiable sight of Dr. Manette, reduced to this state by the barbarous aristocracy, will remind them of their mission and galvanize them to action (Book I, Chapter 5).

check Approved by eNotes Editorial