Gothic Fiction: The Representation of Evil in Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto

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Gothic Fiction: The Representation of Evil in Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto. The Castle of Otranto is a 1764 novel written by Horace Walpole. It is regarded as the first Gothic novel, initiating a new literary genre which became extremely popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Gothic literature’s desire to explore the unknown, the unexplainable, inexplicable and the terrifying can be seen as a reaction to the Enlightenment’s emphasis on the rational and knowable. The Enlightenment rejected the belief in superstition, and religion. Reason, deductive logic, and observation were the methods of examining the world. A clash of these two approaches is noticeable in Otranto. The novel violates 18th century …show more content…
The central theme of all Gothic novels is the presence and symbolism of the Gothic castle. Depiction of ruinous abbeys, monasteries, subterranean passages, vaults, secret panels, and the trapdoors is a standard method of achieving the atmosphere. Howells sees the Gothic castle as being ‘a shadowy world of ruins and twilight scenery lit up from time to time by lurid flashes of passion and violence ’(6). Therefore, the gloominess of the exterior and interior environment is illuminated by intense emotional and passionate moments of the characters that inhabit the castle. As Sage claims, the castle is ‘the lair of the villain’(166), and it is an accurate reflection of his dark and frightening character. Gloomy, dark, and dangerous, the castle reflects the emotions and psychological experience of many of the novel’s characters. The setting in Otranto is almost a character in the novel. The castle, with its ghosts, bleeding statues, the images of giant hands, and feet, and the helmet that crush the walls, spurs on much of the novels action. The castle is also a witness of conflict. To whom does it rightfully belong is a question that is a main motif of the story. Let us concentrate on two main ‘characters’ of the story, whose fates are tied. Gloomy, mysterious atmosphere of the castle is a reflection of Manfred’s character. On the other hand, evil character of Manfred can
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