WMG: Melmoth the Wanderer
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Melmoth extends his life by sucking the lives of other people in his surroundings.
- Why did the Spanish bride die after Melmoth attended her wedding feast? And why did Father Olivada die after denouncing Melmoth? He could have sucked the life out of them to add to his own.
Adonijah renounced the devil, terminating his potential damnation.Melmoth gets to live 150 years on condition he sells his soul to the Devil. On the other hand Adonijah cannot die till he writes out the chronicles of Melmoth. Why is the bargain different? Adonijah also benefits because it's not stated he will go to hell and basically, he is immortal, unlike Melmoth. Since dying is supposed to be a blessing to him, it probably means that Adonijah can atone for his sins by writing out Melmoth's history. Which is supposed to be an allegory on how sinful it is to evade natural death. Since this allegory could warn people how to avoid being tempted by Melmoth, it saves Adonijah's soul. Since he prayed to God to save him on the condition he writes out Melmoth's history, it is presumed his soul will be saved, therefore ending the devil's contract of an immortal life.
- Then why doesn't Melmoth just pray to God as well and cancel his contract?
Melmoth the Wanderer steals money from his descendant, the uncle of young John Melmoth.Where does he get his money? He doesn't murder people unless they actively oppose his plans, and it's not mentioned he robs banks. Melmoth is also too honest to be a full-time robber. Since old Melmoth (the uncle) insists people have broken into his house to steal things, it's likely that the Wanderer stole his money. It makes sense, since the Wanderer is his ancestor, he may think he has claim to the property. It would also explain why the uncle seems to be so scared of Melmoth and know a lot about him. The Wanderer may have demanded money from him. Since the Wanderer is said not to visit houses or speak to others except of his own family, this would give him more opportunities to steal or extort from them, on the condition he doesn't bother them any more.
The novel was written to prove that Gothic fiction can have both horror and terror and still be good.Ann Radcliffe wrote about terror (suggesting fearful things) and horror (full of lurid stuff you get in The Monk). Since lurid punishments are in Melmoth, as well as the uncertainty of his origins, you get both elements.
The novel is a rewrite of Paradise Lost.Said so by some Gothic scholars. Immalee is happy on her island, like Eve. Melmoth, who wishes to tempt her with forbidden knowledge, is Satan. And since Satan is more sympathetic in Milton's poem, it also ties in with Melmoth's argument that selling yourself to the devil isn't the worst thing you can do, compared to the excesses of mankind - killing people of different religions, for example. Melmoth, like Milton's Satan, is a greedy misguided rebel rather than an out-and-out villain.
The novel is a parody of Rousseau.Rousseau believed children should be brought up in isolation with nature. This is how Immalee lived for 14 years. But she is so badly adjusted to the real world and can't even tell that Melmoth is evil, unlike everyone else. She ends up dying in a dungeon.
Melmoth is allergic to religious things.Why is the priest who marries Melmoth to Isidora dead before the ceremony? Presumably Melmoth murdered him, but why? Since the marriage is a religious ceremony Melmoth may be avoiding it. But if the priest is dead and his soul his damned, then he could be marrying Isidora by Melmoth's own sect - Satanism, which Melmoth is not allergic to.
Melmoth is nearly reformed by Isidora.He tries to leave her so he can't harm her, and also he asks her to repeat a hymn she is singing. This indicates he is touched by Christianity, which is portrayed as good in the novel (as long as it's not evil fanaticism).
The novel influenced Wuthering Heights.It's got a tale within a tale, a Byronic figure, a heroine who dies in misery, and what's more, she can't live with him and can't live without him. Both novels are Gothic. Both villains are not sensualists. Emily Bronte may have decided to write a version where the heroine marries the good guy and not the villain after all.
After Melmoth's time, people stopped selling their souls for knowledge and immortality.Since Melmoth sold his soul for knowledge and immortality why does he not target those who want both like him? His targets are despairing souls rather than hungry intellectuals. Presumably sorcery went out of fashion.
Maturin is a closet Satanist.Melmoth feels pity he will make Immalee his victim, like Satan who feels pity he will make the flowers wither.
The novel is not about the sins of selling your soul, but about the foolishness of giving yourself to the wrong ideologySatan could be a dictator who tyrannises all his victims in hell. Since Melmoth's greatest crime isn't selling his soul (that is weakness rather than evil) this act is meant to show foolishness rather than evil.