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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 259

The story begins by making an inference to a story about a man who had killed a woman while sleepwalking. The story then introduces Mr. Davis and his daughter, Constantia, who are visiting a young man by the name Althorpe, who is also the narrator. During dinner, Mr. Davis receives a message that prompts him to leave immediately, but Althorpe, in love with Constantia, objects to the idea of leaving at night. Instead, he insists that they must stay, stating that it was dangerous for them to travel at such time of the night. When Mr. Davis insists on leaving, Althorpe offers to travel with them, but Mr. Davis turns down the offer, and Althorpe is left behind. Althorpe is left to turmoil their fate and unable to sleep. Eventually, he falls asleep on the chair and awakens in the morning to the sad news of Constantia’s shooting. While traveling, Constantia and her father encounter a stranger who they perceive to be Althorpe but they are not sure about it.

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The stranger disappears and they meet Nick Handyside, a local man with developmental issues. They had been informed that the man roamed the night with the aim of scaring people but was harmless. They believe that this man was following them, but it is another person who disrupts their carriage. The carriage is ruined, and as Mr. Davis goes to seek assistance, Constantia is shot in his absence. He returns to find her bleeding and takes her to a nearby physician, who pronounces her dead the next morning.


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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 499

The story begins with an extract from The Vienna Gazette that tells the story of a European murder that parallels the one in “Somnambulism” in every detail. When the narrative begins, the narrator and protagonist, a young man later identified as Althorpe, tells of a dinner party at his family’s home. His guest, Mr. Davis, receives an urgent letter calling him away. Though it is late at night, Davis resolves to leave immediately, and his daughter Constantia insists on going with him.

Althorpe becomes agitated at the suggestion. He is in love with Constantia; she esteems him but is betrothed to another. He warns Mr. Davis and Constantia not to ride out that night and not to go near a particular oak tree, without saying why the tree is dangerous. Mr. Davis brushes aside Althorpe’s warnings, partly from the urgency of his errand but also largely from his suspicion that Althorpe’s intimations of danger are merely smokescreens for his affections, of which Constantia’s father does not approve.

Unable to persuade Constantia and her father to delay their trip until morning, Althorpe offers to accompany them as guide. Althorpe’s insistence and his inability to explain any rational basis for his fears confirm Davis in his decision to leave immediately and without Althorpe. Davis, along with Althorpe’s uncle, finally convinces Althorpe to stay behind....

(The entire section contains 758 words.)

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