Pierre, or, The Ambiguities Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Pierre, or, The Ambiguities

In the early 19th century, Pierre Glendinning is a young man of luxury who plans to marry quiet, beautiful Lucy Tartan and expects to inherit vast estates in rural New York State. One day he encounters a young woman, Isabel, who claims to be his illegitimate half sister. Pierre is determined to acknowledge and care for Isabel, but realizes his mother would never countenance it, so in order to live with her he pretends to have married her, thereby alienating his mother and fiancee. Pierre and Isabel move to New York City and set up house with another woman who was born illegitimate, Delly Ulver, and Pierre attempts to make a living as a writer. The shock of losing him kills his mother, who wills all his inheritance to his cousin Glen Stanly. Stanley promptly courts Lucy, but she rejects him and comes to join the household in the city, thereby precipitating a tragic denouement. After swinging between popular adventure novels (_Typee_ and _Omoo_) and unpopular psychological and philosophical studies (_Mardi_ and _Moby Dick_), Melville next published this book, which appeared on the surface to be a crowd-pleaser but also lampooned the sentimental romances and gothic novels of the day. It was roundly thumped by reviewers, and to this day critics disagree as to whether it qualifies as a failure or a masterpiece.
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The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

Chapter Analysis of Pierre, or, The Ambiguities

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   depressed Time/era of story    -   1600-1899 Poverty, surviving    -   Yes Kind of living:    -   general poverty story Family, struggle with    -   Yes Struggle with:    -   Mother (or standin)    -   Cousin Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   unemployed Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   3 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast City?    -   Yes City:    -   New York

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Herman Melville Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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