Gilbert Pinfold, a renowned novelist modeled on the author. Pinfold is on a cruise to recover his health. He begins hearing voices in his cabin. He supposes they are the result of some crossed wiring that allows him to eavesdrop on intimate and incriminating conversations. First, Pinfold overhears a scene in which the captain punishes and inadvertently kills a crew member. The voices become involved in a plot against Pinfold. They accuse him of lying about his biography and acting, in general, as a fraud. When Pinfold tries to engage other passengers in a discussion of these nefarious doings, they all profess ignorance of what he is talking about. Pinfold’s paranoia reaches its height when he hears the captain and crew hatching a scheme to turn him over to a hostile Spanish vessel that is about to intercept and board the cruise ship. Not until he leaves the cruise is Pinfold convinced by his wife that all the plots and voices have been of his own devising, and that he has been taken in by his own hallucinations.
Captain Steerforth, who is in charge of the cruise ship. He becomes, in Pinfold’s mind, one of the chief intriguers against him. When the captain does his best to show Pinfold that he is mistaken in his suspicions that his telegrams have been read by other passengers, Pinfold presumes that his persecutors are simply trying to embarrass him by faking...
(The entire section is 528 words.)