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The Hangman's Daughter Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Hangman's Daughter.
This section contains 620 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Hangman's Daughter Summary & Study Guide Description

The Hangman's Daughter Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch.

The Hangman’s Daughter is a novel by Oliver Potzsch. This novel follows the story of Bavarian hangman Jakob Kuisl as he attempts to prove that midwife Martha Stechlin does not practice witchcraft and has not killed a motherless boy. Jakob is aided by the son of the local doctor, Simon Fronwieser, who has befriended Jakob as much for his collection of medical books as for his beautiful daughter, Magdalena. As Jakob, Simon, and Magdalena work to clear Martha of all charges, they are sidelined by several more murders as well as Jakob’s duty to torture the innocent midwife. The Hangman’s Daughter is a fascinating look at Bavarian history in regards to the fears of witchcraft and the social hierarchy that made an honest working man such as Jakob an outcast in his community.

A young, motherless boy is found beaten and stabbed in the river. After the boy dies, a tattoo is discovered on his back that is thought to be a symbol of witchcraft. His grieving father blames the midwife, Martha Stechlin, who has befriended a group of orphaned children in the village. Martha Stechlin is arrested after the hangman and Jakob Kuisl calm the angry mob that pursues her. Jakob Kuisl deeply respects the midwife for the help she provided in the births of his children and believes she is innocent of the charges. This places Jakob in an uncomfortable position because it will be his job to torture Martha to get a confession from her. If Jakob refuses, he will lose his job and his family will be forced to leave the village.

Jakob begins quietly attempting to find the true killer of the young boy in hopes of freeing Martha Stechlin. However, the village, frightened by the brutal murder and the aftermath of the recently concluded war, embraces the idea of Martha’s guilt and cry for her execution. Jakob manages to use the laws and a few other tricks to put off Martha’s torture and conviction, but time is quickly running out.

With the help of the local doctor’s son, Simon Fronwieser, Jakob tries to discover the truth in the boy’s death. However, this investigation is complicated when first one and then another young orphan are killed. The two children who appear to have most of the answers disappear after a man with a bone hand, who is dubbed the Devil by the villagers, tries to kill them. Simon and Jakob struggle to find those children while following the evidence to a new leper hospital being built near the village that has recently been vandalized.

During the investigation, Simon and Jakob begin to learn that the former owner of the land where the leper hospital is being built once was rumored to have had a large fortune that was not found after his death. Jakob begins to think this wealth is the reason why the hospital was vandalized. For this reason, Simon and Jakob visit the building site several times. On one of these visits, they notice an old dry well that Simon saw noted in some paperwork about the site. They climb down into the well and find the children. However, the Devil has followed them. Jakob and the Devil fight while Simon manages to get the children out of the tunnels beneath the well.

In the end, Simon and Jakob are able to discover the true identity of the men behind the destruction of the building site and the deaths of the children. They are greedy men who knew of the fortune and wanted to find it. Jakob, who found the money, convinces the men to help free the midwife in exchange for the money.

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This section contains 620 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Hangman's Daughter Study Guide
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