Recently the novel ‘Manon Lescaut’ had a profound impact on me.

The protagonist is a man called Des Grieux who is in love with a girl called Manon Lescaut. Des Grieux is someone, who rebels against his father and the profession chosen for him, just because he is infatuated with this girl.

Affected by love, it propels him to give up his career and elope with Manon. Utterly at the mercy of his own passion, he gets blinded to the practical realities of life. Lacking a proper job, he is unable to earn money and ends up either as a borrower or a gambler. Since he is unsuccessful in generating an income, Manon decided to ditch him for a richer, but older man.

This is one of the ugly realities – “infidelity”. He should have been aware of the sincerity of Manon, but, he chose to jump into the relationship, totally overwhelmed with the sensation. Manon is very attractive but she is the not type to settle for a stable relationship. She, at that time, did not appreciate the fact that someone who has fallen head-over-heels in love with her.

She only viewed his capability to earn money. I feel she should have been more concerned about his career, and should have inspired him to take up some trade or join up military service. But she chose to leave him for her comforts.

That was a twist in her fate – quite infatuated with Des Grieux herself, she felt she was in love. Des Grieux is abducted by his father who tells him about her betrayal, which shatters him. He decides to go back to his earlier chosen career of becoming a cleric. When he gives a speech in the church and on that fateful day, he sees Manon seated in the audience. Whatever Des was trying to be, fades into oblivion. Later on, he approaches Manon, who agrees to accompany him to New Orleans, so that they can start a new life. There he faces a challenge, when he finds that the Governor’s son is trying to make passes at Manon. Furiously jealous, he knocks him down in a duel. Fearing punishment, he and Manon decide to flee. In this attempt, Manon gets exhausted and dies.

All his love, sacrifices, intense infatuation – all is in vain. With nothing left, he goes back to Paris to become a cleric.

Des Grieux is a very intense person, who gets carried away by his own sentiments. Manon is a poor girl, who may be in love but her tragedy was that she favoureed her own comforts first. Though this is a debatable issue now, on why she decided to accompany Des in their American adventure. Realizing what was missing, she went to her richer love interest.

Whatever it is, the novel does not end on a happy note and leaves the readers with a lingering feeling of remorse and sorrow.


Abhishek Datta,

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