Terror in Irish Gothic Fiction Essay

2009 Words 9 Pages
Terror is certainly perhaps the most important aspect of any Gothic work, let alone that of the Irish fiction. However, it does appear that the more terrifying a text is, usually, the more obscure it also tends to be. Though in suggesting this, we may also have to question what actually is meant by the term `obscure', and especially what may be deemed `obscure' in each text's context. Clearly what may have frightened or terrified readers of the nineteenth-century may no longer have the same effect on modern readers. Similarly, it may also help to understand a little about the cultural and perhaps even political background which shrouds nineteenth-century Irish fiction, however we may reflect on this as we progress.

However, here we
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This, mixed with the circling park of wolves adds to the anticipation of what is to come.

Similarly, Wildgoose Lodge begins in matching vein. The narrator is summoned to a secret meeting at midnight but feels `a sense of approaching evil hang heavily upon me' . Mixed again with how `the appearance of the heavens was lowering and angry', we, as readers, can foretell the sense of foreboding that is to come.

Maturin's Gothic play, Bertram also begins with the typical `Gothic scenery' set in a convent at night with lightening flashing through the windows.

So, in a sense, obscurity can be seen from the opening of all three texts. The surreal introductions, aided by pathetic fallacy, almost predicts the terror that is to follow.

Moving on, what may be deemed `obscure' is perhaps what is portrayed as different, or simple outside the ordinary at any given time. For example, critic Edmund Burke also stated that:

"The passion caused by the great and sublime in nature . . . is Astonishment; and astonishment is that state of the soul, in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror. In this case the mind is so entirely filled with its object, that it cannot entertain any other."

In reference to this quote, we may now consider how terror is actually created by both the authors and the playwright concerned. This `astonishment' that writers of Gothic texts subject their audiences or readers to is achieved in

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