The Lightning-Rod Man

October 9, 2023

“The Lightning-Rod Man” is a short story by Herman Melville. The story centers around a mysterious and persuasive salesman who peddles lightning rods to homeowners. He arrives at the home of an initially skeptical narrator and employs a mixture of charm, fear, and flattery to convince the homeowner of the dire necessity of his lightning rods.

Throughout the story, the lightning-rod man plays on the homeowner’s fears and anxieties, capitalizing on the unpredictability of nature’s wrath. He ultimately succeeds in selling his product, despite the homeowner’s reservations. The story is a satirical commentary on the power of persuasion and manipulation in salesmanship, as well as the human tendency to be swayed by fear and superstition.