Melmoth the Wanderer, Vol. 4
is a gothic novel by Irish author Charles Maturin, first published in 1820. The novel tells the story of the titular character, Melmoth, a man who has made a deal with the devil and is doomed to wander the earth in search of someone to take his place. The novel is divided into four volumes, with the fourth volume being the final installment.
Volume four of Melmoth the Wanderer begins with a preface in which Maturin reflects on the nature of evil and the influence of religious faith. He notes that the story he has told is one of the struggle between good and evil, and that the human soul is constantly being pulled in both directions. He suggests that while the devil may appear to have the upper hand, ultimately it is faith that will prevail.
The story picks up where volume three left off, with the character of Monçada being introduced. Monçada is a Portuguese nobleman who has fallen on hard times and is seeking refuge in the convent where the narrator, Stanton, has taken shelter. Monçada reveals that he was once a friend of Melmoth’s, and that he too has made a deal with the devil. He recounts his own story of how he came to make the deal, and it is clear that his fate is not much different from Melmoth’s.
The narrative then shifts to the story of Adonijah and Isidora, two lovers who are being pursued by the Inquisition. Adonijah is a Jew who has converted to Christianity in order to be with Isidora, a Catholic. The two are forced to flee Spain and travel to England, where they hope to start a new life. However, they soon find that they are not safe even there, as the Inquisition has agents in England as well. They are eventually caught and brought before the Inquisition, where they are sentenced to death. Melmoth appears to Adonijah and offers him a deal: if he will take Melmoth’s place, he will be allowed to live. Adonijah agrees, and Melmoth is finally able to escape his eternal punishment.
The novel then shifts back to the present, where Stanton is still in the convent with Monçada. They are soon joined by a group of refugees who have fled from the violence and chaos of the French Revolution. Among them is a woman named Imogen, who becomes the object of Stanton’s affection. However, their happiness is short-lived, as Melmoth soon reappears and begins to torment Imogen. Stanton eventually confronts Melmoth and challenges him to a duel. The two men fight, and Melmoth is mortally wounded. As he dies, he reveals that he is actually the brother of Stanton’s late wife, and that he has been seeking redemption for his sins.
The novel ends with a reflection on the nature of evil and redemption. Maturin suggests that even the most sinful of souls can be redeemed if they are willing to repent and seek forgiveness. He also suggests that faith and love are powerful weapons against the forces of darkness, and that it is only through these virtues that humanity can hope to overcome the influence of evil.
In conclusion, volume four of Melmoth the Wanderer continues the themes and motifs established in the previous volumes, exploring the struggle between good and evil and the nature of redemption. Maturin’s writing is powerful and evocative, drawing the reader into a world of darkness and despair. The novel’s complex narrative structure, with its multiple layers of storytelling, adds to its sense of mystery and intrigue. Overall, Melmoth the Wanderer is a masterpiece of gothic literature that continues to captivate and inspire readers today.