The Castle of Otranto

Topics: Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher, Gothic fiction Pages: 3 (988 words) Published: August 25, 2013
Gothic texts are distinguished by the conventions they explore. The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe and Christabel by Samuel Taylor Coleridgem all create an atmosphere of mystery and suspense and highlight to cruel terrors and passions prevalent in Gothic texts.

In atmosphere of gloom and terror can be conveyed through medieval setting and inexplicable occurances. In the Castle of Otranto, various events occur, which are completely arbitrary and no reasoning is provided. This element of the supernatural is particularly significant is conveying an uneasy and mystical atmosphere. ‘He beheld his child dashed to piece, and almost buried under and enormous helmet…shaded with an enormous quantity of black feathers’. At the time the novel was published belief in witchcraft and the spirit world was not unusual, making the novel rather horrifying for readers. The feathers being black has various connotations to evil, and act to foreshadow the upcoming destruction while adding to the ominous atmosphere. The timing of the murder before the betrothal is intriguing and implies there is a supernatural power intervening to prevent Manfred’s line from inhabiting Otranto.

The desolated and dark House of Usher, aids in conjuring an atmosphere of impending doom and destruction. ‘…reeked from the decayed trees and the grey wall and the translucent tarn…’ The use of imagery conjures a dull and decaying atmosphere reflecting the tone of the story. ‘about the whole mansion and domain there hung an atmosphere peculiar to themselves and their immediate vicinity.’ The house is described to be ‘sentient’, capable of feeling and manipulating the emotions of irs residents. This conjures an alarming feeling of claustrophobia and terror. There is use descriptive language and imagery in the language which aids to depict to castle as a living organisam that is leeching on the happiness of those within its proximities. The atmosphere...
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