for September 25, 2000

Narrative design: restricts reader's viewpoint mainly to that of Emily, who is ignorant of most of the forces operative around her. Helps to mystify them.

-- pp. 406-09: Emily escorted away from Udolpho by Bertrand and Ugo. Restricted to Emily's viewpoint; static imagery of landscape.

-- pp. 488-9: viewpoint of Count Villefort, briefly; note propriety of regard for Emily; property: traces of disorder; p. 491: Emily's new ironic stance to hauntings.

Durant (1981), on landscape, static nature of descriptions connoting aesthetic possession (picturesque tradition of stations); landscape seen as painting (Salvator, etc.). Example, Udolpho, pp. 53-54. Cf. Kostelnick (1985), on picturesque seeing in Radcliffe.

Sexuality: p. 535-6: visit chamber in which marchioness died: Emily thinks she sees something in the darker part of the room; the pall on the bed then moves, and they see a human face and flee. Cf. Fawcett (1983). Associates sex with death: Laurentini's warning, p. 646.

Conservative Gothic
. Designed to restore and assert the institutional status quo. (As Emily appeals to the law; recovers her property; marries within acceptable boundaries.)

Durant (1982)

"Her novels all begin by sketching the pastoral Eden of safe family life; move to the presentation of a fallen world where a father-villain betrays and persecutes the heroine; and end back in the haven of a new family which duplicates the virtues of the initial one. This pattern contrasts a safe, hierarchical, reasonable, loving world of the family with a chaotic, irrational, and perverse world of the isolated. Its circular shape suggests that the only solution to the problems of adult existence lies in returning to traditional, conservative values." (p. 520)

"Mrs. Radcliffe's heroines remain constant in their innocent goodness; only the world around them changes. That makes Mrs. Radcliffe's myth more deterministic and unpleasant than the normal education novel, since there is no poetic justice in the trials the girls undergo." (p. 521)

"the gothic world is one of adult isolation" (p. 522)

"Mrs. Radcliffe's gothic underworld speaks for her pessimistic estimation of the modern world which it symbolizes: it is absolutely wicked and completely beyond the control of the innocent. Her heroines are not as spineless as many of their sentimental cousins, but they can find no way to carry the fight to the wicked. Instead, they are wholly concerned with refraining from the wicked actions the hostile world tempts them to and withstanding the wiles of evil by fortitude." (p. 525)

"Mrs. Radcliffe's novels oppose the tradition of the education novel. She accepts its usual psychodrama, but rejects its solutions. . . . The heroines persist in their adolescent view and are proven correct. Those selfish adults were not her real parents, but vile imposters. She will never achieve equal status with her parents; instead, she will rediscover them as distant arbiters and absolute authorities. The adolescent will have to sacrifice any hope of adult status, ignore the real world, and live docilely as a child for all of her life. But it is worth it: the outside world is too fraught with perils to be endured." (p. 528)

Michasiw (1994)

"whenever Montoni attempts to exercise authority over Emily she opposes him successfully. Montoni's power both in Emily's and the reader's mind is generated by a process of mystification. A petty condottieri captain becomes a figure imbued with supernal power, a transformation effected almost entirely by Emily and her aunt. Each fresh evidence of their partial vision, of their inability to comprehend, becomes evidence of his knowledge and his control." (p. 334)

Emily's appeal to the law eventually dissipates his power: "She invokes, however, the institution of law, a power greater than any individual and, in doing so, opposes a private pretender to godhead with a true god. She dissipates one superstition but creates another. She discovers that individual tyranny may be counteracted by institutions but, in the act, throws herself at the mercy of those institutions, a mercy on which one depends at one's peril." (p. 335)

The power of the institution of family, in particular; but also survival of convents, abbeys, Inquisition, etc., as seats of arbitrary power.

London (1986), on conservative theories of Burke; relation of property to propriety.

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