Obscurity and the unknown are essential elements to gothic style of writing.  Obscurity leaves an opening for the imagination to run wild and attempt to fill the unknown and account for what cannot be clearly defined by the senses or by facts.  It creates tension and uneasiness while the struggle for clarity and reason are pushed into fear and terror.  Obscurity reigns supreme in Horace Walpole’s story The Castle of Otranto. Obscurity drives the story and creates suspense for the audience.  The scene in the story where is Isabella is summoned to Manfred’s chamber is where the darkness of night is first used to create suspense, Walpole shows this when he writes, “It was now evening; the servant who conducted Isabella bore a torch before her.  When they came to Manfred who was walking impatiently about the gallery, he started, and said hastily, take away that light, and begone”(20).  Here the use of the darkness is beginning to be used to set tension in the story, and the fact that Manfred doesn’t want the light implies that he has mal intentions for his summoning of Isabella.  Next scene in the story that highlights the use of obscurity is when Isabella is trying to make her way through the darkness to find the passageway to the church and escape Manfred.  Walpole writes, “Every murmur struck her with new terror;–yet more she dreaded to hear the wrathful voice of Manfred urging his domestics to pursue her. She trod as softly as impatience would give her leave,–yet frequently stopped and listened to hear if she was followed”(25).  Here the Isabella’s imagination is running wild as she attempts to escape through the darkness of night and the suspense can be felt as her heightened sense of hearing is feeding her more information than what her eyes can distinguish in the dark.

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1 Response to Sublime

  1. triproftri says:

    Hmm, these aren’t two elements that were addressed during the class discussion/lecture: obscurity and fear of the unknown. Can you let me know where you got these two elements.

    Regardless, your treatment of these two elements is only at the surface-level. Isabella’s imagination isn’t wildly traversing fear. Instead, she’s suffering from bouts of horror and terror. Also, who’s feeling her heightened sense? This seems to be a reference to the reader and it’s better to leave out the reader (who knows who that ideal reader is???).

    Finally, the tag seems to be missing on this post.

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