Study Guide

The Confidence-Man The Supernatural

By Herman Melville

The Supernatural

Rumor has it the devil is on board the Fidèle. Could be true, for all we know—Melville's a master of the weird and wonky, and while you won't find fire and brimstone in The Confidence-Man, you'll definitely get some incantations and a few references to the master trickster himself. In fact, Melville makes us speculate about whether the various dudes pulling cons may in fact be one and the same being. If so, then there sure is something diabolical going on because, that kind of switcheroo isn't achieved through a quick-change or a pair of Clark Kent glasses.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. Are the weird things Frank does truly supernatural?
  2. How do other characters react to Frank? Who takes to him right away, and who is suspicious?
  3. Do any other characters exhibit supernatural capabilities? If so, what are they?
  4. To what extent, in this novel, is the supernatural a product of the power of suggestion?

Chew on This

There is nothing supernatural in this text.

Melville's representation of the supernatural calls the existence of Divine Providence into question.