Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
The protagonist of Magnificent Obsession, brilliant brain surgeon Dr. Wayne Hudson, has his own hospital in Detroit, a worrisome playgirl daughter, and a beautiful young bride. While on holiday, he drowns after a water accident because a respirator he kept handy was being used to resuscitate a drunken young man who was friends with his daughter, Joyce. The young man, Bobby Merrick, awakes in Hudson’s hospital and is mystified by the coldness with which he is treated by the staff. He learns of Hudson’s death through Nancy Ashford, the hospital superintendent who has devoted her life to Hudson. Nancy suggests that Bobby can assuage his guilt by using his wasted potential to take Hudson’s place. While Bobby considers this proposition, he learns that Dr. Hudson has secretly given money, advice, and help to countless people, declining to be repaid by saying, “I’ve used it all up.” Bobby decides to embark on the quest to replace Hudson and becomes friends with Nancy, who shares with him all Hudson’s papers, including a secret journal written in code. Bobby accidentally meets Helen, Hudson’s young widow, who becomes attracted to him without knowing who he is.
By decoding Hudson’s journal and interviewing Hudson’s devotees, Bobby learns that the surgeon achieved professional success through a series of clandestine good works, swearing his beneficiaries to secrecy. Bobby, who scorns churches and religion, is at first disillusioned to...
(The entire section is 720 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
The staff at the Hudson Clinic is worried about the head of the hospital, Dr. Wayne Hudson. The doctor has suddenly become nervous and haggard, a bad condition for an eminent practicing surgeon, and his staff tries to advise the doctor to take six months away from his work. The doctor himself surprises his staff by announcing that he is about to marry his daughter’s school friend, Miss Helen Brent. The couple are married within a short time and live at the doctor’s lakeside cottage. Soon afterward, a shocking tragedy occurs at the lake. Dr. Hudson drowns because the inhalator that might have saved his life had been dispatched across the lake to resuscitate a wealthy young playboy, Robert Merrick.
While he is recuperating, young Merrick believes that the doctors and nurses at the Hudson Clinic resent him. He does not yet know that he is alive at the expense of the life of the hospital’s chief surgeon. He questions the superintendent of the clinic, Nancy Ashford, who had been in love with her chief, Dr. Hudson, but Ashford does not give him a satisfactory answer. Later, overhearing a conversation, Merrick discovers why the people at the hospital seem to despise him. He talks again to Ashford, who tells him the only way he can ever make amends would be to take Dr. Hudson’s place in life by becoming a great surgeon.
After weeks of pondering on the idea of going to medical school, Merrick decides that he will try to fill Dr. Hudson’s...
(The entire section is 1133 words.)