The Castle of Otranto Essay
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Walpole’s “The Castle of Otrando” is a very good prime example of the Gothic genre. It uses many elements that can also be found in other gothic literature, like Shelly’s “Frankenstein” or Lewis’s “The Monk”. Using “The Castle of Otrando” as an example, I will work what I think are the strengths and the weaknesses of the gothic writing style. There are many strength to gothic writing, from the social and historical references gave to the classic elements of horror in text.
Unfortunately this extract from “The Castle of Otrando” tells us little about but social activities of the time, but it does give us a good example of how gothic writing creates a atmosphere and feel of horror. This extracts atmosphere is a strength of gothic writing. It creates an ‘aura’ around the characters that present them in a way that is fitting to its narrative: “innocent tears, prepared her for her passage into immortality” ‘Emotionally’ descriptive language is used here to tell us about the death of a character, and the general language is very fitting to the setting and the narrative.
This also tells us about how the gothic writers portrayed women; often portrayed as “innocent” and undeserving of their fate. Another strength of gothic writing, I think, is the characters. Few other genres of writing have had such a basis for characters with such unlawful desires or guilty secrets. “Oh! Matilda – I connot utter it – canst thou forgive the blindness of my rage? ” This tells us how the gothic writers viewed the make role. While they may appear stronger on the outside, they are often undone by their own actions, which they deeply regret later (e.g. Frankenstein, his actions created the monster, which he regrets after).
The characters in “The Castle of Otranto” are torn, between what they should do and what want to do. This is classic of gothic literature, at is what makes it most interesting. In my eyes there are very few weaknesses. These can be down to people not considering the writing in the context of the time. One of these weaknesses could be that the setting, and even the characters to some extent, could be consider a bit stereotypical.
“Reached the church… murderous monster…crucifix before her… carried to the castle. ” These can all be considered clichi?? s in a horror genre, and although all there are potent images, some readers may take these for granted. This also begs the question why they employed such stereotypes? I think this is because they’re all reflections of the social movements of the time. Frankenstein, for example, was a character that was (to his downfall) driven by scientific interests. This reflects the historical influences of the time, where there was a great interest in science at the time.
Another weakness of the gothic writing is the characters suffer from the same problem as setting. While they are refreshing compared to characters from other literary styles of that period, they can still be riddled with clichi?? s. “Theodore! I found him praying at this tomb,” This presents the character as morbid and macabre, and with other famous gothic icons sharing such elements; they create a stereotypical character associated with all gothic literature. It also brings us on to the idea religious context, which really played an important part in gothic literature.
With the introduction of religion, an idea of good and evil is presented. This concept could be connected to the way most of the characters in gothic literature are there own downfall. Because a character is not good or evil, there not controlled by God, making them hard to connect with or understand, so there actions can only lead to one thing, downfall. This can be applied to different examples gothic, especially Frankenstein. He, despite good intensions, did an evil thing and played God, this one act would lead to his undoing.