A True Relation of the Apparition of One Mrs. Veal Summary

Daniel Defoe


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“A True Relation of the Apparition of One Mrs. Veal” is a story in two parts: a preface and a separate account. Daniel Defoe tells a ghost story, but he strives to make the story appear to be factual.

The narrator’s preface describes the passage of the story in question from Mrs. Bargrave to her neighbor, to a family member of the neighbor, to a justice of the peace, to a friend of the justice of the peace, and to the narrator of the preface. The narrator of the preface insists that everyone involved in passing along the account of the apparition is trustworthy, sober, and serious. He urges readers to learn from the described events and prepare their souls for the final reckoning.

In the account that follows the preface, Mrs. Bargrave’s neighbor affirms the woman’s trustworthiness. The neighbor, who heard the story from Mrs. Bargrave, explains that Mrs. Bargrave, who had not seen Mrs. Veal for two and one-half years, answered a knocking at the door and met Mrs. Veal, unaware that her old friend had died on the previous day, September 7, 1705. The women had been friends for a long time and had shared their pains and sorrows, which stemmed mainly from family troubles and hardships. Mrs. Veal expressed her regret at the lapse in the friendship and sought to reaffirm the tie between the two women, pleading for forgiveness for not having maintained contact. She assured Mrs. Bargrave of the perfection of God’s plan, even if misery or suffering makes the...

(The entire section is 607 words.)