Summary of “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” by Edgar Allan Poe
In December 1845 came up a publication of the short story by the central personality of American Romanticism Edgar Alan Poe. The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar is an instance of a tale that proves that he was justly giving credits for the contribution in the forming then science fiction genre.
While Poe worked as an editor, he came across the letter of a physician that inspired him for this novel creation. There was an example of the application of a pseudoscientific theory Animal magnetism or Mesmerism. For more than a century, it was relatively popular as a stream of the alternative medicine.
It stated that all living beings emitted some kind of magnetic force or fluid that allowed to establish the telepathic connection between them. Its founder Franz Mesmer assumed that it could be transmitted from a medic to a patient and if during the session the fluid were harmonically reallocated it would cure an illness.
The story was told by the man who for some time was investigating the aspects of that hypothesis. Going through its numerous studies, he realized that none of them was performed when a patient was in the state of agony. He desired to find out if a person can be hypnotized under those conditions, how powerfully it would affect one and for how long the death could be postponed this way.
As an object of the hypnotic experiments, the narrator chose his friend Ernest Valdemar due to his constitution and nervousness. He hadphthisis, and the end was inevitable so as these questions occurred the teller asked him for a favor to satisfy his curiosity when the death would be near. Surprisingly, M.Valdemar who hadn’t endorsed his studies before agreed.
When he felt that his number was up and his physicians approved that fact, he summoned the mesmerist with a note. When he arrived, he was astonished in the worsening of his friend’s appearance and state. Notwithstanding the mental power was still with Ernest, his doctors stated that he would pass away till the midnight of the upcoming day (Sunday).
The scientist needed a witness for his actions. Valdemar’s physicians were gone and wouldn’t return till the next day, and present two nurses weren’t suitable for that role. So he decided to postpone the experiment until 8 pm on the following day. His familiar student-medic gave him the opportunity to start before the doctors’ appearance since he agreed to note his observations. The condition of his friend didn’t allow them to wait anymore.
After 10 pm, Valdemar’s physicians ascertained the agony. Until then the mesmerist reached certain progress with his manipulations. The patient state was deteriorating. At five minutes before 11 pm, the scientist noticed the initial signs of his influence. At 12 am M.Valdemar was in a profound hypnotic trance and after 3 am was left alone.
Till that time his conditions remained the same: imperceptible pulse, barely noticeable breathing, closed eyes and cold limbs. He wasn’t dead, and he confirmed that in his response to the scientist’s questions by informing him that he was sleeping and wanted to die that way. Before the sunrise, his answer was almost the same.
Valdemar’s physicians insisted on leaving him alone till the death, but his friend decided to try to converse with him one more time and repeated his questions. The patient skin got a cadaverous hue, his mouth opened and his swollen and blackened tongue became visible and after a few minutes started to tremble. That was accompanied by the terrible, unnatural sound that was Ernest’s new voice. He answered that he was asleep, but at the moment he was dead.
He wasn’t breathing anymore and with time lost the ability to speak. The only sign of the specific state was a shiver of his tongue when the mesmerist attempted to communicate with him. When the scientific group returned after the noon, it was clear that hypnosis paused the death. Since M.Valdemar’s awakening would’ve relaunched the process they had left him under nurses’ supervision for seven moremonths.
Then the scientist decided to attempt to wake him. He couldn’t tell that he was moving along until another effort to speak with the patient was followed by the answer in that horrifying voice. He begged to put him to sleep or to wake him as soon as possible because he was dead. The initial suggestion couldn’t be implemented, so the mesmerist tried to awake him quickly. During the process, the sufferer continued to cry that he was dead when suddenly his body turned into a nearly liquid mass of loathsome putridity.