Sheppard Lee, Written By Himself
By: Robert Montgomery Bird
Summarized and Composed by: Hailey Cox, Alex Osier, Tori Fredericks, Devon Mckinney, and Emily Ebaugh
Sheppard lee grew up with eleven Siblings, whom as he grew up got sick and ended dying of a common sickness that was going around at the current time period. Later on his mother was un able to bare what happened to her children and eventually ended up dying, soon after his father left. Sheppard was able to attend some schooling but then decided his future was somewhere else, He went back to his property, which he was slowly swindled out of by his servant John Jumble. After this took place he was nothing to be but lazy and found himself to be in quite a debt. As time went on he started to dream of many treasures under a tree where the owl roost resided. He eventually ended up dying and his soul came out of his body. Soon he found squire Higginson body and decided to take it over.
Plot: Sheppard Lee goes from being a person with no worries and extremely lazy to someone who has been swindled out of his money. He is then forced out of his body and takes over Squire Higginson life. But once again he finds himself to be quite unhappy with the life he is to live.
Theme: Sheppard Lee is never truly satisfied with what he gets, he always wants something new and something better.
Setting: in the state of new Jersey, in a old farm house where Sheppard lee once lived.
Shepard Lee- is a very non-motivated person who is always looking for the easy way out. He does not pay to much attention to his belongings. He soon learns that his spirit can take over dead bodies and then he can go about living their lives where they stopped.
John Jumble- Was once the slave of the Lee family but soon realized he had the capability to get Sheppard out of his money and took advantage of it. Slowly but surely he was able to get the entire property.
Squire Higginson- was a man whom had much fortune. But loved to go hunting quite often, he was taken over by Sheppard Lees spirt when the hunting trip had taken a turn for the worse. Higginson is married to a wife in Michigan, whom does not think to highly of him.
Soon after Sheppard Lee took over Higginson’s body, Squire Higginson was accused of murdering Sheppard Lee, because he was the only one who had been around him before his death. Soon he was put into jail. However this did not last long because the prosecutor, whom had been an old friend of Sheppard, was told the story of what had originally happened, and how Higginson was not really Higginson it was Sheppard Lee trapped inside Higginson’s body! After he was soon released from jail squire Higginson soon returned home he had a problem with his food, that could cause him to lose it if it was not taken care of rather soon. This condition was called Gout.
His wife was not to found of him she felt as if she was less important then his hunting. Because of the gout Higginson was left in his chambers for three weeks.
Plot: Shepard Lee learns all about being in someone elses body.
Theme: The findings that being a rich man is not so great.
Setting: A house in Michigan, where Higginson lives with his wife.
Sheppard Lee- the person who inhabits the body of Squire Higginson
Squire Higginson- was a man whom had much fortune. But loved to go hunting quite often, he was taken over by Sheppard Lees spirt when the hunting trip had taken a turn for the worse. Higginson is married to a wife in Michigan, whom does not think to highly of him.
Mrs. Higginson- the wife of squire Higginson, whom does not find herself at high value in the eyes of Higginson
In Book 3, Sheppard Lee find himself in the body of I. D. Dawkins. In Book 2, Sheppard Lee noticed Dawkins before as man who was off trying to woe women. Since he became Dawkins, he quickly learns of Dawkins peculiar situation. The first thing discovered by Sheppard Lee is that he is poor and greatly in debt. As a way of sending his suitors away, he claims to have a rich uncle. This causes great disbelief to the different people and they are constantly looking for the so claimed "rich uncle." Soon, the collectors can not take it anymore and demanding that Dawkins be taken to court for his lack of paying funds. Surprisingly, out of nowhere, Dawkins real uncle, Uncle Samuel Wilkins. And to an even greater surprise, he is extremely rich. Well, this puts many of the collectors to rest, but the money still needs to be collected. AS a way of escaping, Dawkins proclaims he will teach his Uncle Wilkins and his family how to act in society and the rules of being in the higher class of society. Soon, he meets Uncle Wilkins daughter, Patty, and his smitten by her. So, it continues that Dawkins teaches Uncle Wilkins family in the ways of society, using most of the time on Patty. Since Dawkins is still poor and looking to become rich, he decides to marry Patty as a way of earning money through his uncle. Well, he soon sets about this plan and is trying to make it happen when his uncle forbids anything of the matter. HE soon turns to another girl that is in love with him, Alice, but her father refuses to give Alice any money. This quickly discourages Dawkins and he soon sets his plan on Patty, who agrees to go off with him. Well, the night that Pattie and Dawkins are planning to run off, his collectors show up again and demand the money that he owes them. He quickly soothes them and proclaims he is going to marry his rich uncle's daughter. AS everything is set, it soon turns out that Pattie has indeed gotten married, but has tricked everybody. Mentioned in passing earlier by Uncle Wilkins, Patty had a young sweetheart she loved but was forbidden from seeing him by Wilkins. This makes Patty unavailable so Dawkins claims to marry Alice, but it soon turns out that she too has gotten married to Uncle Wilkins son. AS the tension heats up, Dawkins takes to running and is chased by his collectors. Finally, he stubbles into Alice's house and runs into her father, who is actually dead. Trying quickly to get out of Dawkins body, he transfers his soul into Alice's dad's body and end Book 3.
Sheppard Lee in I. D. Dawkins body.
Collectors trying to get money from Dawkins
Theme: As the poor I. D. Dawkins, Sheppard Lee is ultimately on the pursuit of money. As Dawkins, he constantly has debts and collectors looking to haul him away and it never gets better as he is on his quest for money.
Setting: Most of the time, Dawkins/ Sheppard Lee is wondering around trying to make schemes to marry a rich heiress to make his ends meet and live peacefully for the rest of his life.
After being transferred to the body of Abram Skinner, life is completely different from his previous life as Dawkins. From the poor young suitor, Sheppard Lee is an old rich man. But, for the first time in the book, Sheppard Lee does not retain his personality. His personality is overtaken by that of Abram. For example, Sheppard Lee has great compassion for Abram's children. Furthermore, the only thing that he really cares about is money. NO matter what, he wants money. He is corrupted by the idea of making money and never wants to lose it. Sadly, money is his downfall. He refuses to give up any of his money. So when one of his son is in debt, he refuses to pay them. This leads to him being almost murdered by that son. Later, the other son is jailed for forging notes in Abram's name. Again, Abram refuses to pay and his son soon commits suicide. All this brings great despair to Sheppard Lee and he soon goes in search of a new host as he can no longer live as Abram Skinner.
Sheppard Lee as Abram Skinner
Ralph Skinner, oldest son of Abram
Abbot Skinner, youngest son of Abram
Alicia Skinner/ Samuel Wilkins
Theme: Most definitely, the theme is how the power of money corrupts. IN this book, Sheppard Lee is not himself and has the personality of Abram. Furthermore, the money that Abram refuses to give up leads to one son's death and another trying to kill Abram.
Setting: Since Abram is an old man, most of the time he is in his house trying to scandal more money of "idiotic rich people." Honestly, Abram believes that the money should belong to him where it will be hoarded and best kept.
Point of view
Book 5 is written from the point of view of Sheppard Lee but through the eyes of a philanthropist man named Zachariah Longstraw. Sheppard Lee describes what he sees through the eyes of this new body he has taken over. He talks in first person but all surrounding peoples see him as the recovered philanthropist.
This story is set in the late 1700s. It tells of the adventures one man has as his soul enters other people’s bodies. That man is Sheppard Lee. In this book Sheppard Lee’s spirit enters the body of a man named Zachariah Longstraw. Zachariah died because he was struck on the head and this allowed for Sheppard Lees spirit to enter the body. As Sheppard Lee goes about the life of the philanthropist he encounters many people and gets a new meaning and understanding about what is really important.
Book 5 is broken down into twenty different smaller chapters. Each chapter has a specific title that directly relates to what the chapter is going to be about. A theme that is seen throughout this book and not all the others is the sense of friendship and family. Two of the people that were closest to Zachariah before Sheppard Lee took over his body were not even his family members. They stayed by him in the hospital and the author spends a lot of time describing how the body Sheppard Lee is in feels towards him.
The setting of this story is a more depressing gloomy one. He is taking over the life of a single man with no family. Book 5 shows more hope than some of the other characters Sheppard takes over. This story is not depicted to seem depressing and sad such as the book on slavery did. This book shows more on human relations and emotions.
This book did not have too many main characters. The character Sheppard Lee took over was Zachariah Longstraw who had developed strong relationships with two other men. He had no real family of his own but he had two boys that he thought of as his own. Abel Snipe and Jonathan are two young men that have become connected to Zachariah over the years.
In the first chapter of book six, we are introduced to the new body of Sheppard Lee. To his horror, we soon learn that he is a black slave by the name of Tom. He awoke realizing that he was injured with a sprained neck, and was under bed rest for several days. Soon after this realization, he is awestruck with fear when he is first introduced to his master, but then quickly accustoms to him after he shows great amounts of compassion. Once he was seen as well enough to leave his bed, he started accepting his current state; he played and laughed with his master’s children and admitted feeling in a state of “foolish glee.”
Later in the book, Tom is finally sent back to work in the fields. While at first he was weary of doing so, he later confesses that the work wasn’t really hard at all. Both his master and overseer were good-natured men, and just as lazy as he. It makes the reader ponder if this is really how some slave’s lives were, or if the author is trying to glorify slavery. Nonetheless, Lee (or Tom) becomes much more content with his life as a slave than he first led the reader to believe. Although, as the narrator, he explores the idea that maybe the reason for that was because he could no longer remember any of his past lives. He no longer had anything to compare this life of slavery to, so it seemed like a content lifestyle to him.
Tom builds a relationship with his master’s son, Tommy. He is able to leave the fields and do whatever he pleases, as long as it involves little Tommy. As the book progresses, his life seems more and more comfortable with his surroundings, and with himself. To help that, his master and family seem to have an emotional attachment or preference to him, making his life much easier.
Later on in the book, Tom, discovering his ability to read, read to his fellow slave several doctrines. One of the essays he read stated part of the Constitution that all men are created equal. This made both him and his friends start to question why they weren’t treated like their master, and why they even had a master if they were equal. For the first time, the slaves became resentful and fearful of their master, realizing that they were just property to him. Soon enough, Tom was reading these pamphlets to everyone on the plantation, and even slaves from other plantations nearby.
The first incident of violence happened when Tom was play-fighting with little Tommy, but soon took it too far and nearly shook him to death. After this, the slaves made a pact to kill every white man in Virginia, beginning with their master. Soon after that, they attacked their master, and killed him one night as he stepped outside of his house. It seemed that Tom had more sense than to go along with it, but was scared for his life to vocalize his disagreement.
It almost seems that this book was meant to be taken as a warning. That staying naïve and ignorant is better than looking into your fate, and your society. In the end, almost all of the slaves had been put to death for what they had done. Although none of it would have happened if they would have never found the book.
It almost seems as if the author is trying to make slavery seem as something that isn't such a bad thing. Tom becomes accustomed to his situation, and is actually content with it. He portrays the master as being very kind, making the situation seem less severe. Also, when the slaves rebel, it ends up very bad for them, as most of them die. It seems that this is also a cautionary tale.
Tom: This is the next man that Sheppard Lee finds embodied as. He is a black slave, but seems to have established good relationships with his master and his master's family.
Aunt Phoebe: She is also a slave on the same plantation as Tom. During the first part of the book, she serves as Tom's nurse when his neck is broken.
"Massa Jodge": He is the owner of the plantation, and the slave's master. He is surprisingly compassionate and kind towards the slaves.
Tommy: This is the master's youngest son, of about 6 years old. He bonds very well with Tom, and they form a relationship similar to a father/son relationship.
Governor: Another slave on the plantation. He seems to take more charge and become more violent when they start planning the
Parson Jim: Also a slave. He preached to the other slaves, and prayed often.
Isabella: The master's oldest daughter.
Edie: Another one of the master's daughters.
Book seven begins with Sheppard Lee after he is first healing in Arthur Megrim’s body. Arthur Megrim was a “young, rich, and independent” man; no older than twenty six, with a good family, even temper, and no wish for luxuries. He supported his family wholly with his income and lived with his sister Ann Megrim and his slave Paminondas. Arthur has no duties to attend to and is a very lazy man all day long because his sister takes care of his house and cooks for him while his slave takes care of his property. Sheppard confesses to be the happiest he has been in all of the different lives he had gone through, though he wished to most to be back in his own body. One day Sheppard (as Arthur) demands his sister to make him “Of canvas-backs and ducks terrapins,” and though she tries to warn him of his “digestive apparatus” (p.382), which causes him terrible stomach aches if he eats anything other than “bran bread and hickory ashes” (p. 381), Sheppard insists and she gives in. Afterwards, Sheppard talks about the only consequence of his eating being that he dreamt of the devil. Sheppard’s dreams of the devil continued on and his stomach began to bring him much pain. “I had slighted her warnings, and despised her advice, and now I was to pay the price of indiscretion.” (p.389) Arthur’s state soon turned into delirium when his dreams got so bad that he preferred staying awake and couldn’t stand the pain of his stomach. Arthur (Sheppard) soon began acting like a dog, chicken, teapot, and numerous other objects. His doctor, Dr. Tibbikens, concluded that he had lost his sanity for good when Sheppard demanded that he was the emperor of France. With this, they took Arthur and put him into a strait jacket and carried him off to the insane asylum where many doctors did many things to him. “I was physicked and starved, phlebotomized, soused in cold water and scalded in hot, rubbed down with rough blanket cloths and hair-brushes as stiff as wool-cards, scorched with mustard plasters, bombarded by an electoral machine, and in general attacked by every weapon of art which the zeal of my tormentors could bring into play against me.” (p.396). After a period of time, Sheppard learned how to retain his imaginative outbursts and was able to go back home to his sister Anne. Yet, when he returned to his humble abode, he was not the same cheery fellow as he once was, for now his “mind was weighed down with indolence, melancholy, and stupefaction” which enveloped Sheppard Lee and surrendered him useless. The life of Arthur Megrim was following Dr. Tibbikens around and going through the motions of life with a numb existence. The end book seven takes a surprising twist when Mr. Tibbikens takes Arthur (Sheppard’s spirit) to a science convention where a German doctor that Sheppard recalled from his first life as the actual Sheppard Lee, is presenting his new discovery of embalming fluid. As Dr. Fuerteufel, the German doctor, reveals the body he was going to use as a test dummy, Sheppard Lee realizes that the body is really his old body (Sheppard Lee’s original body). With such excitement to see his old self again, Arthur runs over to the stage and breaks the glass box his body was incased in and in front of the entire science convention he exchanges bodies back to his old one. With this, Arthur Megrim’s body falls to the floor while Sheppard Lee’s body, and Sheppard Lee, made way to the door among the chaos of everyone else running out.
Point of View:
Just as the rest of the novel, book seven is seen in first person by the soul of Sheppard Lee, though not necessarily by his body. Yet, Sheppard Lee’s point of view is changed as he enters into the body of Arthur Megrim where he lives the life of a young, rich, and content man at the age of twenty five who has not a worry in the world. He is very happy in the life of Megrim, for he has the easiest life of all.
Towards the end of the book we are clued in on a point of view about the German doctor that we had not yet seen before. In the beginning of book one, we do not know what happened to Sheppard Lee’s original body or what Dr. Fuerteufel’s intentions of moving in to town was. Yet, at the science convention we learn that the German doctor’s intention of coming to town was to discover how to preserve body parts. At the same time, we discover that the doctor had taken Sheppard’s body to use for his experiments. Without knowing this information from the beginning, the author has to venture from body to body to find on that suited him as well as his old one did, instead of being able to return to his body and end the story whenever he wanted. This added a complication for the author and made the story more interesting.
Book seven had the point of view of Sheppard Lee after all of his experiences in different lives, living in the body of Arthur Megrim. This indeed had many conflicting views in which I will go further in to detail at the “Plot”.
Yet, Sheppard was also conflicted in Megrim’s body because,
The plot of in book seven reveals much of the foreshadowing and flashbacks of the novel through a chronological order which is dependent upon the character’s actions, opposed to coincidence. An example of foreshadowing occurs when Sheppard, in the body of Arthur, see’s and recollects the German doctor Mr. Fuerteufel at the science convention with his old body (Sheppard Lee’s body). Mr. Fuerteufel was mentioned in the first book when Sheppard was making his preparations to dig up Captain Kid’s Money and found the Doctor standing upon the spot in which the treasure was supposedly buried. “He had came to our village about two weeks before, and nobody knew what reason for. All day long he wandered about among the woods, swamps, and marches, collecting plants and weeds, stones, animals, and snakes, which he seemed to value very highly.” (p.37). As I said in the “Point of View”, this was a very crucial event for the book because it revealed the resolution to the book. As for the conflicts in book seven, there is a great deal of internal and psychological conflict for Sheppard Lee. While in the body of Arthur Megrim, Sheppard finds himself to have to best life imaginable. He did not have any obligations, no job, his sister took care of his house, his slave took care of his land, and he had lots of money in which he did not even feel the need to spend (therefore he always had what he wanted). Though he has such a luxurious life in a beautiful town-house, Sheppard can’t help but to feel unsatisfied. As Sheppard put it, “he was more troubled than any one else on earth. Labour, pain, and care-…I have had experience enough to know, are essential to the true enjoyment of life” (p.384).
As Sheppard Lee goes through the motions of Arthur Megrim’s life, he continues to support the overall arching theme of the book which is that no one has is easy. In life, many may think that they have such a terrible existence, yet, everyone has internal or external conflicts in which are unavoidable. Mostly, the theme seems to want to tell the reader to be a happy as themselves and learn to be content in your shoes.
Book seven takes place in Virginia. It starts in Arthur Megrim’s town-house and then moves to the insane asylum, back to Megrims, then to a science convention in which it ends with Sheppard Lee running away in to the woods. The settings of the book seem to create a very non-chalant, dull, and almost numb feeling to the work and seems to have some symbolic meaning. Megrim owning a large house symbolized his wealth and the woods in the end could symbolize a tie back to the beginning of the novel where Sheppard runs in to the woods away from the party at midnight to dig for the treasure so he could start a new beginning.
The four main characters of this book is Sheppard Lee/ Arthur Megrim, Dr. Tibbikens, and Dr. Fuerteufel. Sheppard Lee’s spirit is inside the body of Arthur Megrim, in which Sheppard is able to convey the theme when he shares his personal thoughts about his unhappiness in this life and his wishes to be in his old body again. Sheppard evolves throughout the novel and this book is when he makes the revelations of his experience in other lives.
As for Dr. Tibbikens, he helps the story stay interesting by concluding that Arthur was crazy and making him stay by his side. In a way, Dr. Tibbikens helped cure Megrim while he also added complication because Arthur from them on was not able to speak and act as freely and certainly couldn’t tell anyone that he was really Sheppard Lee or they’d assume he was just going mad again. Yet, in this book, Tibbikens helps guide Arthur and seems to be the closest person to Arthur, besides his sister , which Sheppard regards him as a friend. Without him, Sheppard wouldn’t have found his old body again. Dr. Fuerteufel was a dynamic addition that increased the conflict of the book in many ways. By taking Sheppard’s body, the German doctor therefore created the conflict. As well, he was not welcomed by the community very well and was looked upon as a sketchy being. Even though Sheppard doesn’t trust the man, he turns out to be a good man that meant no harm for Sheppard as he visited Sheppard in his home and let him live his life without.
Imagery, Symbolism, Tone:
The image of Arthur Megrim’s life as everything that Sheppard Lee had ever dreamed of is very symbolic to the book. Arthur is handsome, polite, smart, rich, and has not a care in the world. These attributes are all things that Sheppard used to be envious of. Yet, as Sheppard Lee gets to live the perfect life, he then feels it is not to perfect anymore and the realization of the novels theme comes in to play because of this imagery. This literal image also ties in to the figurative imagery in which takes place when Sheppard Lee goes insane. In the first book there is speak of Sheppard mother going crazy before she died. Some may say that this was the cause for his insanity; after all it is a biological trend. Yet, some may see him going made as a representation of how he felt inside after going through so many different bodies. Living the lives of all the men he envied, plus a few others, Sheppard was expecting to find happiness while he really just found more pain and heart ache. After reaching Arthur’s body, Sheppard seemed tired of being other people and only wished to have his old life back. This, Sheppard knew could never happen since his body was rotted away by now. With desperation and no one to tell his secret to, Sheppard psychologically broke down. This is an exemplification of the climactic point in the story.
The tone of the book overall is a very insightful and sympathetic one. The author seems to be full of wisdom and experience by the time of the seventh book. He makes you feel sorry for himself while also giving a slight bit of hope for the Sheppard Lee as he drags on his story and ends each paragraph without a real conclusion to it.
Book eight continues on the story from when Sheppard finds his original body and is running away from the German scientist, Dr. Feurteurel, who believes Sheppard Lee was a mummy and was trying to catch him. Sheppard runs for three days and three nights, only stopping for one two hour nap, back to his forty-acre farm in New Jersey. Sheppard had no recollection of how he got back home without food or water, and in result collapsed into the arms of his sister after he returns. At his house, he finds that his sister Prudence and his brother in-law Alderwood had taken over his affairs and restored the farm. After Sheppard left, Mr. Jones (who swindled Sheppard in book one) got ill and made amends to his damages he did to Sheppard Lee’s farm by giving Sheppard’s family enough money to amend it. To Sheppard’s happiness, Jim Jumble and Dinah were still there and rejoiced to see their master back. At this point, Sheppard finally tries to tell someone of his tales, where he confesses them to his brother in-law. With this, he is never able to convince his Alderwood and tries to tell Jim Jumble, who also didn’t believe him. The two men swore to Sheppard that during the twenty months, he had actually went into a fit of dementia and was actually lying in his bed the entire time and dreaming of such events; though Sheppard brought up the newspaper from Virginia that explained the event that at the science convention and other facts that proved it was true. There is no real evidence that points towards the tale being true or not. As well, Alderwood agreed to teach Sheppard how to farm to he could cultivate his own land and even left his son as a helping hand for Sheppard Lee. In the end, Sheppard returns to his old life as a newly changed man and thankful for all that he has
Point of View:
The point of view is told in first person and is in the perspective of Sheppard Lee as himself. By this point, the author shows the reader every different point of view that there could be shared in the book by living the lives of the different men. He is now very happy, content, thankful, and grateful for all that he has, which is the complete opposite point of view that he had from the beginning of the novel.
A major even that happens in when the German doctor chases Sheppard. For this, we do not know exactly what the doctor was planning to do with Sheppard when he got him. This added an escalated conflict in the book while it was just beginning to tie up its loose ends. Yet, we find that he meant no harm and just wished to know if Sheppard was a mummy or really had returned back to life. Another big event is when Sheppard Lee returns home. After months of exploration, all Sheppard wished was to return home and at this moment we get a sense of completeness and true happiness among the author.
The theme of the entire novel is summed up and shown in this section and is best described by the author on page 415-416,
“you will long see me so; for I am now a changed, I hope, a wiser man-disposed to make the best of the lot to which Heaven has assigned me, and to sigh no longer with envy at the supposed superior advantages of others….I shall now be contented with my condition, humble and even toilsome as it may be. I have seen enough of his miseries of my fellows- those even whom I most envied- during the two years of my absence, to teach me that every man has his share of them; that there is nothing peculiarly wretched in my own lot, and that I can be happy or not just as I may choose to make myself.”
The scenery began in the woods from Virginia to New Jersey and ended at Sheppard Lee’s property in New Jersey. Sheppard’s forty acres represents his true home and happiness. This is the only place where Sheppard truly wished to be and was a representation of the end and beginning for him.
Sheppard Lee uses his realization from the last chapter and puts them to good use in making his life the ‘perfect’ life for himself that he could be happy. Sheppard Lee is a new man because of this and creates the perfect ending for the book through his wisdom and knowledge.
Alderwood, Sheppard’s brother in-law, plays an important role in this book because it is his kindness and generosity to Sheppard that made Sheppard still able to have his old land and life back. As well, it is him who Sheppard had to prove he was a new man to and helped encourage Sheppard to cultivate his own land and live self-efficiently.
Imagery, Symbolism, Tone:
The imagery that is given to describe Sheppard Lee’s gratitude was very grabbing for me. Sheppard seems to be so happy and thankful that he could not find such words to express so. Throughout all of book eight Sheppard reiterates on his happiness and gratefulness many times. The symbolism of his house, (which I have spoke of before) is very strong. Especially when he tells how happy he is to see the house that held all of his child hood memories.