The Facts in the case of Mr. Valdemar (Summary) Of course I shall not pretend to consider it any matter for wonder, that the extraordinary case of Mr. Valdemar has excited discussion. It would have been a miracle had it not — especially under the circumstances. Through the desire of all parties concerned, to keep the affair from the public, at least for the present, or until we had farther opportunities for investigation — through our endeavors to effect this — a garbled or exaggerated account made its way into society, and became the source of many unpleasant misrepresentations; and, very naturally, of a great deal of disbelief.
It is now rendered necessary that I give the facts — as far as I comprehend them myself. They are, succinctly, these: My attention, for the last three years, had been repeatedly drawn to the subject of Mesmerism*; and, about nine months ago, it occurred to me, quite suddenly, that in the series of experiments made hitherto, there had been a very remarkable and most unaccountable omission: no person had as yet been mesmerized in articulo mortis* In looking around me for some subject by whose means I might test these particulars, I was brought to think of my friend, Mr.
Ernest Valdemar, the well-known compiler of the “Bibliotheca Forensic,” or was particularly noticeable for the extreme sparseness of his person — his lower limbs much resembling those of John Randolph; and, also, for the whiteness of his whiskers, in violent contrast to the blackness of his hair — the latter, in consequence, being very generally mistaken for a wig. His temperament was markedly nervous, and rendered him a good subject for mesmeric experiment. For some months previous to my becoming acquainted with him, his physicians had declared him in a confirmed phthisis*.
I spoke to him frankly upon the subject; and, to my surprise, his interest seemed vividly excited. His disease was of that character which would admit of exact calculation in respect to the epoch of its termination in death; and it was finally arranged between us that he would send for me about twenty-four hours before the period announced by his physicians as that of his decease. My dear P… You may as well come now. D…and F…are agreed that I cannot hold out beyond tomorrow midnight: and I think they have hit the time very nearly.
Valdemar In that bed of death were as witnesses, a servant and a maid, a doctor friend of mine and Mr. L. the doctors D…and F… went to their houses but they promised me to come back the next day at 10pm. Mr. L… was so kind as to accede* to my desire that he would take notes of all that occurred; and it is from his memoranda that what I now have to relate is, for the most part, either condensed or copied verbatim. While he spoke thus, I commenced the passes which I had already found most effectual in subduing him.
He was evidently influenced with the first lateral stroke of my hand across his forehead; but although I exerted all my powers, no farther perceptible effect was induced until some minutes after ten o’clock, when the doctor back his pulse was imperceptible and his breathing was stertorous*, and at intervals of half a minute. A natural although a very deep sigh escaped the bosom of the dying man, and the stertorous breathing ceased — that is to say, its stertorousness was no longer apparent; the intervals were undiminished.
The patient’s extremities were of an icy coldness. At five minutes before eleven, I perceived unequivocal signs of the mesmeric influence. The glassy roll of the eye was changed for that expression of uneasy inward examination which is never seen except in cases of sleep-walking, and which it is quite impossible to mistake. With a few rapid lateral passes I made the lids quiver, as in incipient sleep, and with a few more I closed them altogether.
I was not satisfied, however, with this, but continued the manipulations vigorously, and with the fullest exertion of the will, until I had completely stiffened the limbs of the slumbered, after placing them in a seemingly easy position. The legs were at full length; the arms were nearly so, and reposed on the bed at a moderate distance from the loins. The head was very slightly elevated. After a few experiments of the doctors D and F, they admitted him to be in an unusually perfect state of mesmeric trance. Mr. Valdemar,” I said, “Are you asleep? He made no answer, but I perceived a tremor about the lips, and was thus induced to repeat the question, again and again. At its third repetition, his whole frame was agitated by a very slight shivering; the eye-lids unclosed themselves so far as to display a white line of a ball; the lips moved sluggishly, and from between them, in a barely audible whisper, issued the words: “Yes; asleep now. Do not wake me! — let me die so! ” I here felt the limbs and found them as rigid as ever. The right arm, as before, obeyed the direction of my hand.
I questioned the sleep-walker again: “Do you still feel pain in the breast, M. Valdemar? ” The answer now was immediate, but even less audible than before: “No pain — I am dying. ” After many time of argue we decided that we had to awaken M. Valdemar and watch what can happen. “M. Valdemar, can you explain to us what are your feelings or wishes now? ” There was an instant return of the hectic circles on the cheeks; the tongue quivered, or rather rolled violently in the mouth (although the jaws and lips remained rigid as before 😉 and he spoke with a voice from beyond: For God? sake! Quick! Quick! Put me to sleep! Quick! I say to you that I am dead!!! I was thoroughly unnerved, and for an instant remained undecided what to do. At first I made an endeavor to re-compose the patient; but, failing in this through total abeyance* of the will, I retraced my steps and as earnestly struggled to awaken him. In this attempt I soon saw that I should be successful or at least I soon fancied that my success would be complete and I am sure that all in the room were prepared to see the patient awaken.
For what really occurred, however, it is quite impossible that any human being could have been prepared. As I rapidly made the mesmeric passes, amid ejaculations of “dead”! Absolutely bursting from the tongue and not from the lips of sufferer, his whole frame at once within the space of a single minute, or even less, shrunk, crumbled, absolutely rotted away beneath my hands. Upon the bed, before that whole company, there lay a nearly liquid mass of loathsome of detestable putridity.
Mesmerism* Franz Anton Mesmer (1734–1815) discovered what he called animal magnetism and others often called mesmerism. Mesmer’s ideas led to the development of hypnosis in 1842, in articulo mortis* the moment of death, phthisis* a progressively wasting or consumptive condition; especially pulmonary tuberculosis, accede* to express approval or give consent; give in to a request or demand, stertorous*characterized by a harsh snoring or gasping sound, abeyance* suspension, temporary inactivity.
Point of View: First person: The story was narrated on first person this is an example: My attention for the last three years, had been repeatedly drawn to the subject of Mesmerism; and, about nine months ago, it occurred to me, quite suddenly, that in the series of the experiments made hitherto, there had been a very remarkable an most unaccountable omission: no person had a yet been mesmerized in articulo mortis. Moral: The moral in this story are not directly stated then must be inferred by the reader.
The lesson here is that we should not experiment or play with the lives of people and less to challenge the laws established by God and science because the consequences can be fatal. Symbolism: In this story is about whom one person tries to confront the science with the mesmerism that never the process was attempted on humans. Because Valdemar the principal character is sick terminal; he had tuberculosis. He decided to choose that process and look if the process worked on him. Symbolism is showed on the many parts of the story, for example on the title.
Irony: On this story for the lector is recognize the fight between human and science and who the human on that time try to look and investigated new things of science refers. Characterization: Well we have many characters in the story like doctors D and F, Mr. L, the servant, the maid, the doctor friend of the protagonist, Mr. Valdemar and the protagonist (the narrator) of the story. But we just have the characterization of Mr. Valdemar. Mr. Valdemar: He was noticeable for the extreme sparseness of his person and, also, for the whiteness of his whiskers, in violent contrast to the blackness of his hair, his temperament was markedly nervous.
He was sick his physicians had declared him in a confirmed phthisis. Conflict: We can see in the original version of this story several conflicts like man vs. society, man vs. man, man vs. science, man vs. himself and man vs. God. Man vs. Society: He challenges the society; experimenting the mesmerism with an alive human, consequently the investigation or the experiment became a garbled or exaggerated account made its way into society, and became the source of many unpleasant misrepresentations; and of a great deal of disbelief.
Man vs. Man: When he ask to Mr. Valdemar if he want to be part of his experiment like the first human being to be mesmerism. Man vs. Science: The mesmerism or the hypnosis could be considering a science. The protagonists challenge the science. Man vs. Himself: Could be the why he had not dared to experience the mesmerism with humans before and his doubt about if he can ask to Mr. Valdemar to be part of his experiment. Man vs. God: The capacity of he had to stop the death with the mesmerism is to test or challenge the power of God.