Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 175
The main character of "The Adventure of the German Student" by Washington Irving is Gottfried Wolfgang, “a young man of a good family.” He is a loner, intense and heavily involved in his studies, and this “had an effect on both mind and body.” He began to believe that there was an evil spirit around him, so his friends sent him to Paris.
The other main character of the story is a young woman who Wolfgang has envisioned before meeting her. He is afraid to talk to women in real life but has imagined this woman’s existence before ever seeing her. She is by the guillotine, distraught, and Wolfgang brings her home. In the morning, he discovers she is the corpse of a woman who had been guillotined the day before. This drives him mad, and he spends the rest of his life “in a madhouse.”
The story is told to us by a narrator who heard it from Wolfgang: “The student told it me himself. I saw him in a madhouse in Paris.”
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