The Castle of Otranto
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 is a physical manifestation of the mood Poe cretes in his story. This inextricable connection evolves, and the castle and its residents become intertwined into a single organism. When Madeline and Roderick die, the House collapses, and the House of Usher falls in all essence of the statement.
In Christabel an atmosphere of mystery and suspense is conjured through various techniques implemented by Coleridge. ‘yet an angry moan did make! And what can ail the mastiff bitch? Never till now she uttered yell.’
She senses Geraldine’s presence and howls. Animals instinct and sixth sense, her heightened sense. THe dog is not at ease. Foreshadows something evil or unnatural about Geraldine, hinting the events which will ensure.
Overwhelming passions are passions or desires which supercede rational though and dictate ones ability to make decisions because of a feeling of immanent destruction. IN the castle of Otranto Manfred is consumed by fear of the pro[phecy leading to him excercising cruel actios with indifference to the suffering of thers. ‘I will use the human mean sin my power for preserving my race; Isabelle shall not excape me.’ His tone is writhing with rage and cruelty as he prepares to divorce the person she loves to marry his dead sons wife. His plans are not only immoral ut also forbidden. ;Heaven nor hell shall impede my design; He speaks with convition with no change of being swayed. His worlds display sacrigege as he talks about overcoming the power of God to fulfil his tyrannical desries.
Overwhelming passions or emotions which supercede rationality lead to destruction. In the fall of the House of Usher, we witness how Roderick Usher is overcome by his dread of fear. ‘I feel that the period will sooner or later arrive when I must abandon life and reason together, in some struggle with the grim phantasm, fear’ Irony is implemented as Usher, fears, fear itself. His tone is defeated and dark as he foreshadows his demise. Every aspect of the story is heightened, enhacing fear in not only Usher and the narrator but the as the line between fantasy and reality blurs, we anticipate the dreaded yet inevitable climax. Usher’s ability to forsee events is recurrent in the story and cannot be attributed to mere coincidence and he possess an ethereal aura. This fear devours him, and transitions into paranoia and insanity. ‘…but evil things in robes of sorrow assailed the monarch;s high estate.’ THe poem, the haunted house describes how a once beautiful palace is overtaken by demonic forces. It is an extended metaphor describing how the once peaceful and brilliant mind of Roderick Usher has fallen orey to fear which drives to insanity.
Cruel passions are explored through Christabel.
“Christabel” revolves around the juxtaposition of sin/evil versus religiosity/devoutness, and sexuality versus purity. The obvious characters who represent these juxtapositions are Christabel (who represents devoutness and purity) and Geraldine (who represents sin/evil and sexuality. . Furthermore, the scene that exemplifies Geraldine’s embodiment of these juxtaposing qualities is the one in which she is praying by Christabel’s bed. In the middle of her prayer, Geraldine is overcome by the orgasm-like gestures of her eyes rolling around, the drawing in of her breath, the shivering of her body, and her sudden unclasping of her belt to remove half of her white robe. Thus, sin and sexuality overtake devoutness and purity.
‘Her silken robe, and inner vest, dropt to her feet, and in full view, Behold! Her bosom and half her side.’
‘Off, woman, off! This hour is mine.’
Geraldine sense the spirit of the mother protecting the daught. Geraldin has power at this hour- bids her to leave. Suggests she is up to something evil. Midnight is witching, devoted to the spriit world and not bound by the conventions of the rest of time. Repetition of off.
‘ There she sees a damsel brigh, dressed in silken robe of white.’ connotation, angelic. Silke, purity.
‘and the lady’s eyes they shrunk in her head, each shrunk ip to a serpents eye.’