The novel describes the downfall of Ferdinando Falkland, a British
squire, and his attempts to ruin and destroy the life of Caleb
Williams, a poor but ambitious young man that Falkland hires as his
personal secretary. Caleb accidentally discovers a terrible secret
in his master's past. Though Caleb promises to be bound to silence,
Falkland, irrationally attached (in Godwin's view) to ideas of
social status and inborn virtue, cannot bear that his servant
should possibly have power over him, and sets out to use various
means--unfair trials, imprisonment, pursuit, to make sure that the
information of which Caleb is the bearer will never be revealed.
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