The Dead Woman (Maupassant)

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The Dead Woman
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A grieving man returned to Paris after his lover's death, visited her grave, and witnessed the dead rewriting their tombstones to reveal the truth about their lives.

A man was deeply in love with a woman, and they spent a year together, wrapped up in each other's lives. One day, the woman came home wet from the rain and developed a cough.

The Narrator — narrator; deeply in love with the dead woman; grief-stricken, desperate.
The Dead Woman — narrator's lover; died from a cold caught in the rain; secretive, unfaithful.

Despite doctors' visits and treatments, her condition worsened, and she eventually passed away. The man was devastated and couldn't bear to stay in their home, so he left to travel.

Upon returning to Paris, the man was overwhelmed with grief when he saw their bedroom and belongings. He decided to visit the woman's grave, where he found a simple marble cross with the inscription, "She loved, was loved and died." Overcome with emotion, he spent the night wandering the cemetery, searching for her grave again but unable to find it.

I was paralysed with terror, I was drunk with fear, near screaming, near death.

As night fell, the man noticed that the graves around him were opening, and the dead were emerging. They began to erase the inscriptions on their tombstones and replace them with the truth about their lives. The man realized that his lover must be doing the same, so he searched for her grave once more.

Finally, he found her and saw that the inscription on her tombstone had changed to, "Going out one day to deceive her lover, she caught cold in the rain, and died."

Going out one day to deceive her lover, she caught cold in the rain, and died.

The man was found unconscious near the grave the next morning.