Redgauntlet in the midst of a carouse with his

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Redgauntlet, in the midst of a carouse with his familiar (a hideous and ma- levolent pet monkey) takes the silver but dies of a sudden fit, screaming and wailing, before he can give Steenie a receipt. When the heir, Sir John Redgauntlet, takes over the estate, he finds no record of Steenie having paid his rent. Steenie explains what happened, but his lack of any receipt or witness to the payment leaves Sir John incredulous. All seems about to be lost when the despondent Steenie encounters in a forest a strange horse- man who offers to help him. Immediately Steenie finds himself at the door of Castle Redgauntlet (though he knows the house to be miles away), enters, and finds his late master carousing once more, this time with a host of dead Scottish patriots (from Lauderdale to Claverhouse). Following the horseman's advice, Steenie refuses food and drink, and he also evades play- ing on the bagpipes in homage to the demon (Steenie notes just in time that the chanter is white-hot with hellfire) and escapes with his receipt, which he takes to the living heir. Sir John is amazed by the receipt, clearly genuine though dated the previous day, but gives his own credit after he finds Steenie's silver in an old disused turret of the castle, which Sir Robert's ape had apparently been using to hide objects he had purloined in the hall. But "Wandering Willie's Tale" is not merely intruded into the main ac- tion of Redgauntlet; it recapitulates its themes. Sir Robert, like the Young Pretender, is determined to have his own again; like Charles Edward Stuart, he has an unbreakable attachment to drink and women that ultimately proves his undoing; and he is associated with the whole band of Scottish pa- triots whose private morality clashed with their stern devotion to Scottish freedom and independence. Even the Scottish national attachment to papers, receipts, and dry legalities appears both in "Wandering Willie's Tale"—as the central nexus of the story—and in the main plot with the Pe- ter Peebles case and with Alan Fairford's legalistic attempts to discover his fiiend Darsie. Formally, then, Redgauntlet inverts the situation ofNorthanger Abbey: instead of presenting a pseudo-Gothic situation whose absurdity is demonstrated by exposure to the matter-of-fact of quotidian life, here the Gothic tale—in its chilling apparent plausibility—exposes the absurd other- worldliness underlying Scottish revanchism.
106 CHAPTER 4 The Brontes and the Gothic Aftermath It would be wrong, however, to conclude this chapter with the notion that the Gothic novel never found a mode of coherence, never succeeded in ar- riving at a plot form that could simultaneously allow the play of feeling and the unity of wholeness. It found both, but only a generation after the heyday of the genre. The last Gothic novel, as has long been recognized, was Jane Eyre. In Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte was able to restore coherence to the Gothic by recombining the hero and the villain, the threat and the reward.

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