Summary (Masterplots: Revised Category Edition, European Fiction Series)
As boys, Mattia Pascal and his brother Roberto lived an easy life with their wealthy widowed mother. While the boys were growing up, however, the fortune their merchant father had left them was gradually acquired by a dishonest man named Malagna, to whom the mother confided all of her business affairs. One by one the farms and city property belonging to the Pascals were mortgaged and then sold. Everyone except the widow Pascal realized how dishonest Malagna was. Her confidence in her agent enabled him to rob her of everything over a period of many years.
When he was in his teens, Mattia Pascal fell in love with a beautiful young girl, Romilda Pescatore. Unfortunately for the affair, Malagna, whose two wives had failed to give him any children, had his eye on Romilda for himself. A bad situation developed when Romilda became pregnant; her mother, a termagant who seized any opportunity to improve her position, saw a chance to capitalize on the evil. She advised Romilda to take Malagna as her lover and let him think the child was his. The mother thought that he would be so happy to have his impotence seemingly disproved that he would at least make Romilda, her mother, and the child very comfortable.
Although Romilda told Malagna the truth, the two kept the whole affair a secret. Through Mattia Pascal, Malagna’s wife discovered what had happened. In revenge on her husband, whom she had suspected of infidelity, she in turn became pregnant by...
(The entire section is 1168 words.)
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