The Castle Of Otranto Analysis

1549 Words 7 Pages
Simone Kett
Christina Morin
English and History LM035
1473 words
17 October 2014
The manner in which Burke’s idea of the Sublime emerges in the Castle of Otranto According to Edmund Burke, the sublime is the most intense feeling we are capable of feeling. It is both pain and pleasure drove by complete astonishment. In The origins of our ideas of the beautiful and the sublime, Burke states that “the passion caused by the great and the sublime in nature, when those causes operate most powerfully, is Astonishment” (53). In literature, authors use the sublime through their plots, their setting and their characters. In this paper I would first like to discuss gothic and what it means, some of the characteristics seen in gothic literature
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The tension that arises from the moment the book begins makes the readers feel Burke’s idea of the sublime. When the helmet grows large and crushes Manfred’s son, Conrad, who is supposed to marry Isabella, we are brought into the world of the supernatural which is commonly seen in gothic literature. What the reader feels from this scene, is complete astonishment. The supernatural in the 18th century was a new concept in literature. The supernatural in this scene makes the readers feel horror. Due to this scene having no natural explanation, it evokes a feeling of terror so intense to the reader that it can be directly related to what Burke thought the sublime meant. The reader gets a thrill out of reading this, and becomes so fascinated by all of the supernatural events and the constant suspense, that they continue on to read more despite being terrified by it. Throughout the story, supernatural events are repeated. At one stage, Manfred sees a painting come to life, which is never explained in the book, despite the fact that most of the events that took place in the duration of the book are explained. There are also numerous sightings of a giant by the servants, which can be related to the prophecy at the beginning of the novel. Manfred’s character can also be seen as a sublime character, because what he seeks is power; “I know of nothing sublime which is not some modification of …show more content…
The supernatural is put into the novel purposely by Walpole to evoke the feelings of horror from his readers. Being the first gothic novel, it also set the stage for further gothic novels. It has supernatural events and figures, such as the moving painting, and the prophecy; it is set in an old castle; it has a heroine who is distressed because of a male which is very common in gothic literature. Although today we might find the story almost ridiculous, it’s clear to see how 18th and 19th century readers might have been terrified by it, to the point where they are astonished by the book. Burke states that the sublime , “is the strongest emotion the mind is capable of feeling”, (A philosophical Enquiry, 36), and it’s clear to see why readers in the 18th and 19th century felt strong emotions while reading The Castle of Otranto because it was new, and filled with tension, the supernatural, and the constant suspense. It wasn’t like anything they might have read before, which is why it was so controversial in its time. Burke’s idea of the sublime clearly emerges in the Castle of

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