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The Haunted Man Synopsis
The Haunted Man
The Haunted Man was published in 1848. Like A Christmas Carol, it is a story of ghosts and redemption. The protagonist and chemist, Professor Redlaw is a haunted man. He is followed by a spectre who looks exactly like him. But what if he could get rid of all his sadness and despair? Redlaw strikes a ghostly bargain and suffers the consequences; is living without sorrow really worth it?
The story in context
This novella was the final instalment of Dickens’s Christmas books from the 1840s. The Haunted Man was a great success and it sold 18,000 copies on its first day of publication. Whilst a commercial triumph the story was tinged with personal sadness. Dickens’s older sister Fanny had died in September 1848 and Dickens grieved this loss while writing this haunting story.
The dread word, Ghost, recalls me.
Everybody said he looked like a haunted man. The extent of my present claim for everybody is, that they were so far right. He did.
Who could have seen his hollow cheek; his sunken brilliant eye; his black-attired figure, indefinably grim, although well-knit and well-proportioned; his grizzled hair hanging, like tangled sea-weed, about his face,—as if he had been, through his whole life, a lonely mark for the chafing and beating of the great deep of humanity,—but might have said he looked like a haunted man?
Who could have observed his manner, taciturn, thoughtful, gloomy, shadowed by habitual reserve, retiring always and jocund never, with a distraught air of reverting to a bygone place and time, or of listening to some old echoes in his mind, but might have said it was the manner of a haunted man?