The happening takes place at the end of 16th century in Sicily, better in the Castle of Ferdinando Mazzini: “a man. His first wife, Louisa Bernini, died after giving him two daughters, Julia and Emilia, and a son, Ferdinand.
After the death of his first wife, he committed the education of his daughter to Madame Menon and married Maria de Vellarno then he moves to Naples with her and his son while Julia and Emilia remained back at the Castle. The Castle was divided into two main parts and only one was lived by the two young girls, Madame de Menon and some servants. The south wing was left empty and there happed strange events, such as terrifying sounds and strange lights.
As soon as Ferdinand’s birthday arrived the count of Mazzini decided to celebrate it within the Castle. Lots of people were invited to join the party; one of them was Hyppolito, count of Verona. Julia felt in love with him as soon as she saw him for the first time even him started to feel something strong for the girl. Also Maria de Vellano, who had already known Hyppolito in Naples, liked him so she tried in every way to separate the two young lovers.
In the meantime strange facts continued to happed in the southern wing of the Castle. Julia and Emilia, whose bedrooms were next to this part of the castle, were scared by these terrifying sounds so Ferdinand decided to go and control what was going on.
Afterwards he decided to talk to his father about the events and the count of Mazzini revealed him a secret concerning the Castle: there was a ghost that wandered in the south wing, a spirit that belongs to a killed persons.
While Julia was falling deeper and deeper in love with Hyppolito, the count of Mazzini decided to led she to marry the Duke of Luano, because of his social class and economical position that was very well, and so in this way he could increase his prestige and his power. He proposed it to his daughter
and when Julia refused he constructed her to do his will saying that if she didn’t marry the duke of Luano she would have to became nun. Julia, hopeless, decided to run away with Hyppolito to avoid her father will. While they were escaping from the castle, helped by Ferdinand, they were found and the count of Mazzini hit Hyppolito with his sword. Hyppolito pretended to die. Julia and Ferdinand were imprisoned in two different cage of the Castle.
By now everything was ready for the marriage between Julia and the Duke of Luano but when the count of Mazzini went to say his daughter to prepare herself for the ceremony he couldn’t believe to his eyes when he found the room completely empty. Suddenly he sent some servants to look for her in the Castle surroundings, but she was vanished and they couldn’t be able to find her. However researches continued and one day a servant told the count of Mazzini to have found the young lady in a house in the middle of Marentino Forest. Immediately the Duke of Luano and his men rushed towards that place but they didn’t find Julia so they thought she could have run away from the house.
During the following days the Duke of Luano deceived to see Julia and Hyppolito so, reached them, he laughs against the man. The man is recognised not as Hyppolito so the two people were set free. At the same time at the Castle Madame de Menon decided to leave the instruction of Emilia and to move to her family property in another area of Sicily. Madame de Menon during her trip across the region found a lady who she recognised as Julia, she has found a refuge in the house of a servant. The day after the two women continued their travel but they were soon stopped and taken prisoners by a group of men. They believed to have been caught by the Duke of Luano instead of by the men who had operated the capture.
The women found another refuge in a monastery where they met the sister of Hyppolito, Cornelia. The abate informed the Count of Mazzini about his daughter and so he imposed to the abate himself to give him Julia without any conditions although he would have gone with his servants to the monastery and he would have forced her to follow him. The abate, jealous of his power, didn’t accept the proposal so the girl was safe for the moment. Mazzini returned back to take his daughter but the abate threatened him to reveal his secret if he would have dared to force the monastery. At this, Mazzini said that he would have returned with many soldiers in order to enter into the monastery. Julia was called by the abate, during the night, to be informed about her chance to live free: accept to live in the monastery.
The following day Julia received a visit of his brother Ferdinand who was escaped and who informed Julia that Hyppolito was alive, saved by a servant and moved to the coast. The two people decided to try the escape during the night. During the escape they were imprisoned another time but soon set free by the action of Hyppolito. However Ferdinand was not found yet and the couple decided to persist in their intention when they were surprised by the arrival of the Duke of Luano and his soldiers. Julia went into a cave while Hyppolito fought the Duke.
Wandering in the cave Julia discovered a door which lead to the cave where her mother was (She was imprisoned 15 years ago by Mazzini); Julia decided to stay with the mother in the cave telling her about Ferdinand and Hyppolito. In the meantime Mazzini had found the infidelity of Maria and this fact made him very upset. Maria de Vellano desperate about being discovered by her husband decided to suicide. Ferdinand decided to return back to his Castle when a strong storm surprised him during the trip so he was constricted to search for a refuge in a small house where he found Julia, his mother and Hyppolito.
A Sicilian Romance ::: Setting
Events take place in Italy, precisely in Sicily according to the tradition of gothic novels. Sicily, with its layers of lava forming curious involutions and burning whole houses and villages, is the appropriate setting. For a story so concerned with the interpretation of inside and outside, and the permeable cave.
The second half of the 18th century saw the increasing of English travellers going to the natural and artistic beauties of “Il Bel Paese”.
There is an alternation of outdoor and indoor spaces and particularly the presence of subterranean settings, that couldn’t be completely included in the indoor sphere. An example could be the cave of Louisa’s incarceration that is a mediating position between nature (open space) and culure (the caste and generally the human expression). In fact the cave can be reached both from the castle and the natural landscape outside.
In concomitance with the presence of subterranean locations there is also the presence of high spaces like mountains and hills. The intention of Ann Radcliffe is to create a link and mediation between high places and low ones along all the narration. In spite of detailed descriptions are frequent imprecision: locations are wrong situated, and big mistakes regards the topography of the places; an example can be the confusion between Alps and Apennines.
A Sicilian Romance ::: Characters
Characters are stereotyped: Julia, the lady persecuted by the villain, the Marquis of Mazzini (and the duke of Luano), the antihero, (Ferdinand and) Hyppolito. The role of the villain can be considered double, in fact in the novel could be traced two villains: Mazzini and the duke of Luano who helps him. Opposed to the villains there are the antiheroes: the Count of Vereza and Ferdinand the Second.
The lady is the piece contended by the two parts of the history: the good and the bad respectively the antiheroes and the villains. The character are all flat because they didn’t change during the story. They are analyzed especially from their actions and their behavior. Apart frm Julia they aren’t analyzed physically. All the most important characters are nobles even if there are some servants who haven’t’ a great influence in the story.