The Devil in the Belfry (Poe)

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The Devil in the Belfry
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A mysterious stranger disrupted a village's perfect timekeeping by causing chaos with their clocks, leading to confusion and disorder among the villagers who had always lived in harmony.

In a small Dutch village called Vondervotteimittiss, the inhabitants lived a simple and contented life. The village was known for its perfectly circular valley, surrounded by gentle hills, and its sixty identical houses. The villagers were particularly proud of their clocks, which were always in perfect sync with the great clock in the steeple of the House of the Town Council. The belfry-man, who was responsible for maintaining the clock, was the most respected person in the village.

The Belfry-Man — chief dignitary of the village; fat, puffy, with big circular eyes and a huge double chin.

One day, a strange and foreign-looking young man appeared on the summit of the ridge eastward of the village. He was dressed in a tight-fitting black coat, black knee-breeches, and stumpy-looking pumps with huge bunches of black satin ribbon for bows. He carried a large fiddle and a gold snuffbox, from which he took snuff incessantly as he danced down the hill.

The Little Man — foreign-looking young man; dark snuff-colored face, hooked nose, wide mouth, grinning; dressed in black with a large fiddle.

As the young man entered the village, he caused quite a stir among the villagers, who were alarmed by his odd appearance and his inability to keep time in his steps. Just as the great clock was about to strike noon, the young man suddenly leaped into the belfry and began to play his fiddle, causing the belfry-man to lose control of the clock.

The clock struck thirteen, sending the villagers into a state of panic and confusion.

Mein Gott, it is Dirteen o’clock!

The clocks in the village went haywire, and the cats and pigs, which had little repeaters tied to their tails, began to run amok. The young man continued to play his fiddle in the belfry, causing chaos throughout the village.

Unable to bear the situation any longer, the narrator left the village in disgust and appealed for help from all lovers of correct time and fine kraut. He urged them to join him in restoring the ancient order of things in Vondervotteimittiss by ejecting the strange young man from the steeple.

The Narrator — narrator; observer of the events in the village.