Mad? (Maupassant)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man with a mysterious magnetic power could put people and animals to sleep and move objects with his gaze, causing him great distress and fear of himself.

A man named Jacques Parent suffered from a strange and terrifying condition that caused him to hide his hands and move them in abrupt jerks. He confided in a friend that he possessed an extraordinary magnetic power that made him afraid of himself, especially during electric evenings.

Jacques Parent — narrator's friend; tall, thin, with black eyes; disturbed, frightened, and tormented by his magnetic power.

I am endowed with a faculty … no … a power … no … a force … Well I don’t know what to call it, but I have inside me such an extraordinary magnetic action that I am afraid, yes, afraid of myself.

Jacques claimed that his power extended not only over humans but also over animals and objects. One evening, Jacques demonstrated his power on his friend's dog, Mirza. He put the dog into a trance-like state and made her perform various actions, such as fetching a handkerchief and pretending to chase a hare. Jacques even commanded the dog to bite her master, but stopped her before she could do any harm. He then released the dog from her trance, and she left the room, visibly shaken.

Jacques then showed his friend how objects obeyed him as well. He made a dagger on the table move towards his hand without touching it, causing his friend to scream in terror.

The Narrator — Jacques' friend; curious, concerned, and frightened by Jacques' power.

Jacques explained that he spent entire days testing his power, moving objects around and never growing tired of it.

Magnetism! Do you know what it is? No. No one knows. But it is known that there is such a thing. It is recognised, doctors practise it, and one of the most famous, M. Charcot, teaches it; so there can be no doubt that it exists.

As a storm began, Jacques told his friend to leave him alone, saying that the rain would calm him and he needed to be by himself.