Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 462
There is no error more absurd, and yet more rooted in the heart of man, than the belief that his sufferings will promote his spiritual safety.
Shown in this quote are two prominent themes in Melmoth the Wanderer: suffering and spirituality. Melmoth sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for immortality, which results in his never-ending suffering. He begs those he encounters in his wanderings to take his place in the deal, which tests their faith and spiritual strength.
Many a month of gloomy unconsciousness rolled over me, without date or notice. One thousand waves may welter over a sunk wreck, and be felt as one.
Here, Melmoth describes how it is to be immortal, comparing the inconsequentiality of time to the waves that pass over a sunken ship, bound to the ocean floor as he is to life. This quote is an example of the heavy tone and imagery seen in Maturin's novel. Despite being immortal, Melmoth continues to feel the weight of time, only differently than it is felt by mortals. For him, the weight comes from the knowledge that all time ahead will be laden with unhappiness, lest he passes his curse onto another.
It is better to hear the thunder than to watch the cloud.
With lessons of valuing one's only life given throughout this book, this quote attests to making the most of it. This quote and many others throughout the work serve as reminders to be grateful for the life one is given, to accept and appreciate all parts of life, and to admire all aspects of one's journey.
Terror is very fond of associations; we love to connect the agitation of the elements with the agitated life of man; and never did a blast roar, or a gleam of lightning flash, that was not connected in the imagination of some one . . .
This quote serves as an example of the nature imagery seen in Melmoth the Wanderer. Maturin continually associates the actions and emotions of man to the high energy of nature. This quote also refers to the theme of spirituality. One's harmony with nature is an important element of many religions.
When we had proceeded for a considerable time, (at least so it appeared to me, for minutes are hours in the noctuary of terror,–terror has no diary) . . .
The effect of terror is often referred to in this work, calling back to the prominent motif of suffering. For many, the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment is often accompanied by overwhelming feelings of panic and terror. For example, when he recognizes the gravity of his mistake, Melmoth is horrified by not only the idea of an endless life of suffering but the chance that his life after death will, too, be marked with unending torture.