Veronika Decides to Die Summary – Paulo Coelho

Veronika Decides To Die Summary - Paulo Coelho
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Veronika Decides to Die is a psychological and dramatic novel by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, published in 1998. It tells the story of a young woman’s transformation from someone desperately wanting to commit suicide to becoming an accepted and ultimately affirmed survivor. Veronika Decides to Die is partly based on Coelho’s experience in various mental institutions

Summary Of Veronika Decides to Die

Veronika Decides to Die begins with Veronika’s decision to end her life by taking four packs of sleeping pills, along with an explanation of her reasons for wanting to do so and choosing this particular method. While waiting for the pills to take effect, Veronika reads an article in a magazine that evokes such a strong reaction in her that she decides to write a protest letter to the editor of the magazine, realizing that this letter will likely be taken as a suicide note. Initially finding this thought amusing, she becomes less amused and more anxious under the influence of the sleeping pills, and ultimately reacts with fear to the thought of dying.

Veronika does not die, but awakens in the famous mental hospital Villete, where she is told by Dr. Igor that after her unsuccessful suicide attempt, she will succeed in dying. She has damaged her heart so much that she will not be able to survive for more than five days. Locked in a ward with other “insane” people, Veronika struggles with accepting both her failure and her impending success.

Over the following days, Veronika’s questions about whether she is truly insane are met with various responses by the hospital nurses. They are answered by Zedka, a hospital mate whose soul separates from her body in a process called astral projection, and by Mari, a member of a highly functional group of inmates called The Fraternity. Veronika also experiences a slow awakening to her interest in new and old experiences, is drawn to a schizophrenic patient named Eduard, and is drawn to a piano in the hospital’s common room.

There, on the night of the new moon, she returns to her first love, music, and begins to play in ways she never did before, with Eduard watching. Additionally, in response to her attraction to Eduard and Mari’s advice to try something previously forbidden, she masturbates to the point of experiencing several orgasms. Despite experiencing a series of painful and terrifying heart attacks, all of this awakens in Veronika a desire to try more experiences and ultimately awakens in her a desire to live out the remaining time as fully as possible.

Meanwhile, the narrative also explores the experiences of other inmates, both past and present. Zedka’s interest in the ideal she calls “Possible Love,” Mari’s rejection of life as a lawyer to prefer a life of service, and Eduard’s search for and discovery of “Visions of Heaven” are all defined within the context of Veronika’s slow experiences of the possibility of a freer and fuller life. The narrative depicts a life that is deemed “insane” by those in the “real” world but is claimed to be the only type of life truly “lived” according to the narrative.

In the end, Zedka, Mari, and Eduard all leave Villete’s confines in various ways and for various reasons. Veronika goes with Eduard, determined to live out the remaining time of her life to the fullest. At this point, the narrative reveals Dr. Igor’s manipulation of Veronika into believing she was on the brink of death while actually believing she would live, serving his own purposes.

Veronika Decides to Die concludes with Veronika and Eduard celebrating their freedoms and Dr. Igor celebrating the success of his experiment.

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