A Madman (Maupassant)

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A Madman
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A respected judge secretly committed several murders, documenting his thoughts and actions in a journal, while continuing to condemn criminals to death in his professional life.

A high-court judge, known for his upright and irreproachable life, passed away at the age of eighty-two. He was honored and respected by everyone, and his funeral was attended by many people who expressed their grief and admiration for him. However, after his death, a strange document was discovered in his desk, revealing a dark secret.

The document, titled "Why?", contained the judge's thoughts and confessions about his desire to kill. He wrote about the pleasure he derived from taking a life and how he believed that killing was a natural instinct for all living beings.

To kill is the law; because nature loves immortal youth. She seems to cry through all her unconscious acts: “Hasten! Hasten! Hasten!”

He started by killing a small bird, but soon his desire grew stronger, and he decided to kill a human.

The Judge — narrator; high-court judge; cunning, secretive, and obsessed with killing.

I must kill a man. I must.

One day, while walking in the woods, he came across a young boy eating a slice of bread and butter. The judge approached the boy and strangled him to death. He hid the body in a ditch and went home, feeling exhilarated by his actions. The boy's murder was eventually discovered, and two tramps were arrested for the crime, but there was not enough evidence to convict them.

Later, the judge killed a fisherman by striking him with a spade. The fisherman's nephew was accused of the murder, and the judge himself presided over the trial. Despite the nephew's claims of innocence, the judge sentenced him to death.

To death! To death! To death! I have condemned him to death.

The nephew was executed, and the judge felt a great sense of satisfaction from witnessing the execution.

The document did not reveal any more crimes committed by the judge, but it raised questions about the existence of other undetected madmen in society. The experts who examined the document believed that there could be many more cunning and dangerous individuals like the judge, hiding their true nature from the world.