Davenport hines goes even further with this claim by

This preview shows page 32 - 35 out of 133 pages.

Davenport-Hines goes even further with this claim by stating that Walpole’s novel is a comedy. Anticipating the possible controversy that his subject would arouse, Walpole seems to have prepared several alibis in case the critics attacked the novel. The first was the first prologue to his novel. The second one could be the internal parody that Walpole developed. If the critics thought the novel too dangerous, Walpole could bail out by claiming that his intention was to write a parody. This is evident in many instances, such as the death of Manfred’s son. Even though the death of Conrad is supposed to be a terrible event, the fact that a giant helmet caused his death could be considered either
32pathetic or even somewhat funny. It might have been tragic but the fact that almost no one regrets it or mourns him very much makes the image conjured up by the crushing helmet not a very sublime one. Walpole fails to represent images of the sublime that would measure up to the idea of Edmund Burke’s sublime. Burke defines the sublime as “the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling” (305) and it is associated with pain rather than pleasure. Instead, the reader is left with a blend of events that sometimes can lead to laughter or other negative responses from the reader. Later on Gothic writers managed to gather all the positive elements of Walpole’s failures and elevated the novel out of the farce-like atmosphere that Otranto represents into a more serious mode. This seriousness is criticized by critics like Davenport-Hines who states that by incorporating only the terrifying elements of the story of Otranto and leaving out the comedic these new writers were missing the point that Walpole tried to make. Davenport-Hines accuses them of being too serious in their endeavors and ruining the original spirit of the Gothic (143). Alfonso’s presence is also a matter of controversy in the novel. Assuming that all the supernatural manifestations in the castle are the result of this ghostly presence (some certainly are) then it is fair to consider him a character on his own. Walpole used Alfonso as a deus ex machinawhenever a character needed a psychological push. When a character becomes distracted from his/her mission (like Frederic) a part of the giant armor appeared or a statue moved or a ghost appeared. Unfortunately for good Alfonso, Walpole’s use of the supernatural was sloppy and eventually moved the novel from the mysterious to the ludicrous. As Punter comments: “This is obviously not a use of the supernatural which is intended to terrify, but an ironic exercise which is meant to interest
33and amuse the reader by its self-conscious quaintness” (35). Walpole’s supernatural is caught in the middle of two trends in Gothic: Radcliffe’s Gothic, where the supernatural is explained or exposed as fake (Radcliffe’s The Italian, Reeve’s The Old English Baron) and Beckford’s Gothic where the elements of the supernatural reign supreme (Lewis’ The Monk

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture