Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
In the autumn of 1816, John Melmoth, a student at Trinity College, Dublin, leaves his school to visit an uncle, his only surviving relative, who is dying. Melmoth’s uncle is particularly glad to see his young nephew, for the old man is fearfully afraid of something that he has not revealed to anyone else. The uncle dies and leaves all of his money and property to the young Melmoth. A note at the end of the will tells Melmoth to destroy the hidden portrait of an earlier John Melmoth, a painting dated 1646, and also a packet of letters to be found in a secret drawer.
The day after his uncle’s death, young Melmoth makes inquiries to learn whether his uncle had been a man of superstitious nature. He is told that the uncle was not superstitious, but that in recent months, he had insisted that a strange man had appeared and disappeared around the manor house.
Young Melmoth destroys the portrait as the will requested, but he opens the packet of manuscript, which contains a strange story about the man whose portrait he destroyed. The document tells how the original John Melmoth had been seen many times after his reported death in Germany and had been written of by an Englishman named Stanton, who had met Melmoth the Wanderer in Spain. The Wanderer, apparently angered by Stanton’s curiosity, had prophesied that Stanton would be confined in Bedlam, although he is sane. The prediction having come true, the Wanderer appeared to Stanton in his misery...
(The entire section is 1193 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Melmoth the Wanderer Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!