The Italian

Last Radcliffe novel; said to be written partly in response to Lewis's The Monk (1795). Comparatives:


Naples, opening scenes:

Pausilipo, close to site of Villa Altieri
Puzzoli, overlooking Naples, site of excursions by Ellena and Vivaldi, p. 37
Naples night view with Vesuvius; cf. p. 159

Abruzzi, p. 64; pp. 158-9

(Garganus is to the east of this map)

And compare Ramond on mountain gorges in the Pyrenees and Switzerland to Radcliffe, pp. 63-4.

Passivity of heroine:

Only actions allowed heroine based on her spirit of resistance, e.g., Ellena reflecting on nature during abduction, mountains as being "with the Deity", sublime: p. 62-3; during interview with Abbess, p. 68; again, when offered either veil or a husband, by Abbess, p. 84; Immediate marriage: rejected by Ellena, p. 59, just before she is abducted; Ellena's resistance to immediate marriage with Vivaldi at Celano, begins to melt, p. 181;

Love: greater caution (compared with Udolpho) with which Ellena expresses hers, after rescue from San Stefano, p. 152 -- cf. Dr. Gregory's advice in A Father's Legacy to his Daughters (1774):

"If you love him, let me advise you never to discover to him the full extent of your love, not although you marry him. That sufficiently shows your preference, which is all he is entitled to know. If he has delicacy, he will ask for no stronger proof of your affection for your sake." (CD, pp. 40-41).

-- again, when agreeing to the marriage at Celano, p. 182

Precepts vs. self-knowledge:

Abbess, who has strong sense of class distinctions, tells Ellena she is "sent here to acquire a knowledge of yourself and of your duties" p. 67; Schedoni, discovering pity for Ellena in himself: "He knew not by what doctrine to explain the inconsistencies, and contradictions, he experienced" p. 225; -- that precepts and doctrines obscure self-knowledge; vs. conduct of Abbess of Santa della Pieta, who works through feelings and imagination, p. 300.

Thus, the opposite of conventional precepts is feeling, not understanding: cf. Gregory again:

"Be even cautious in displaying your good sense. It will be thought you assume a superiority over the rest of the company. But if you happen to have any learning, keep it a profound secret, especially from the men, who generally look with a jealous and malignant eye on a woman of great parts and a cultivated understanding." (CD, p. 15)

Note, objections of Wollstonecraft (Vindication) to women being kept in leading strings, or Mary Hays on poor education of women.

Countenance, as measure of the person:

Vivaldi when first seen by Ellena, she had "been struck by the spirit and dignity of his air, and by his countenance, so frank, noble, and full of that kind of expression, which announces the energies of the soul," p. 9; Schedoni's bears "traces of many passions," p. 35; Olivia's face "incapable of perfidy," p. 97; Schedoni's face momentarily shows his sense of guilt, p. 175; faces of inquisitors, to Vivaldi's eyes, "seemed stamped with the characters of demons," p. 197.


Nature without influence on villains: on return through forest of Garganus: "Over the gloom of Schedoni, no scenery had, at any moment, power; the shape and paint of external imagery gave neither impression or colour to his fancy. He contemned the sweet illusions, to which other spirits are liable, and which often confer a delight more exquisite, and not less innocent, than any, which deliberative reason can bestow," p. 255.

-- Ellena and Schedoni compared, sensibility vs. corrupted reason, suggesting that all reason should be governed by feeling, p. 288-9;

-- Ellena at convent, her comforts from the view, created by sensibility (hence importance of): looking out on bay of Naples, "every point of the prospect marked by such remembrance, which the veiling distance stole, was rescued by imagination, and pictured by affection in tints more animated than those of brightest nature," p. 369.

-- and role of sensibility in self-preservation: Ellena in Spalatro's house, p. 216

Coincidences: role of Providence (again):

Ellena singles out a nun at San Stefano, who later turns out to be her mother, Sister Olivia, p. 87; minor instance, of Vivaldi on beach overhearing discussion of fisherman who was present at Villa Altieri on morning after abduction, p. 107; that Schedoni had been persecuting his own child, p. 243; of Spalatro confessing to a priest, who calls in a friend as witness who is Schedoni's former accomplice, Father Nicola, p. 362.

Anne Williams, Art of Darkness, notes:

Female Gothic as alternative paradigm, escaping the 'universal' Oedipal conflict; female develops different relation to mother, is able to "see a world free of spectres" (p. 139). [Cf. Italian: Ellena's relation to Olivia.]

Paternity of Gothic hero, out of Satan; modulates into Schedoni, finally Rochester - female tale of education, learning to read him aright (shades of Darcy?) (p. 142-4); (but discussion of this, pp. 144-5, appears to be not relevant to Radcliffe?)

"Paradise regained": proposing a different paternity for female Gothic, that of Eros in story of Psyche (p. 146). Unlike the male Gothic plot, "the desire that keeps the 'female subject moving forward . . . is driven by a need to fill in the lack perceived almost as soon as perception is possible" (pp. 150-1). "Separation and transformation replace taboo and alienation as the prominent experiences impelling growth" (p. 158).

Radcliffe, Emily as showing possibility of female Reason (p. 160). Emily as Psyche: finds then loses, eventually regains her Eros (Valancourt) [cf. The Italian] (p. 163).

Abject, Kristeva - here as villains, bandits, outlaws, etc. (p. 167)

Female Reason valorized in Udolpho: opposing unreason of villains (p. 169: cf. Montoni; Schedoni); located in the real world (p. 170); directed at unravelling secrets of family tree (p. 171), providing occasions for sensibility, heroine's "characteristic intuitiveness" (p. 171).

Male Gothic as conservative, by contrast (cf. Stephen King) (p. 172).

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Document created October 2nd, 2000