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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

John Melmoth, the protagonist, is a young Irishman who finds a manuscript within the property he inherits from his uncle. The Wanderer, profiled in the manuscript, is a deceased ancestor, also named John, who is also featured in a portrait that John must destroy. The current John learns more of his ancestor through his visits in the night and from a Spanish man’s tales.

John Melmoth’s Uncle passes away and leaves everything to John, including an ancestral portrait. He fears a mysterious stranger’s presence in his home.

Melmoth the Wanderer lived during the seventeenth century. The subject of the portrait, a previous John Melmoth, he has been wandering the Earth since his death. This condemnation is related to his making a pact with Satan to serve as a broker procuring souls for the Devil. Returning to Ireland, he speaks with the current John Melmoth. The Wanderer dies by jumping or being thrown off a cliff.

Mr. Stanton is the author of the manuscript about Melmoth the Wanderer. Stanton, believing himself cursed by the Wanderer, has spent time in the Bedlam asylum. The Wanderer wanted to buy his soul for Satan.

Alonzo Moncada, who is shipwrecked in Ireland, arrives at the Melmoth home. A Spaniard, he tells of his imprisonment by the Inquisition and dealings with the Wanderer. He too was encouraged to sell his soul.

The Old Jewish Doctor studies the Wanderer tales. He is a contemporary of Moncada, to whom he narrates the story of Francisco di Aliaga’s daughter who fell in love with the Wanderer and bore his child. They met when he arrived on the island where she had lived since childhood after a shipwreck. Back in Spain, she later became his Satanic bride and was punished by the Inquisition. After their baby was born, she died dreaming that she and her lover might enter Heaven.

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