According to Elizabeth MacAndrew, author of The Gothic Tradition in Fiction, the gothic novel is [. . .] a literature of nightmare. Among its conventions are found dream landscapes and figures of the subconscious imagination (3). Maggie Kilgour, author of The Rise of the Gothic Novel, agrees that dreams and nightmares are a classic source of gothic inspiration [. . .] (191-192). In fact, a dream was the initial inspiration for the first gothic novel ever, Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto. One night in June 1764, Walpole dreamt of an ancient castle' and a gigantic hand in armour,'and so he attempted to give his dream fictional form, writes George Haggerty in his book Gothic Fiction/Gothic Form (3). E. J. Clery, in the introduction to the Oxford World's Classic version of the book, notes that there have also been attempts to apply Freud's methods and analyse Otranto as a dream rather than as a work of literature [. . .] (viii). Walpole's story is, indeed, very similar to a nightmare. It contains such nightmare-like qualities as frightening imagery, the appearance of the supernatural, and a number of uncanny occurances.
[...] ] have been obtained directly or indirectly from dreams,” Varma writes (222). Interestingly, this does seem to be the case, at least, in Walpole's story. The nightmare world of Otranto is full of the supernatural. In the very first scene, a giant helmet hundred times more large than any casque ever made for human being [ . falls out of the sky and kills Conrad (Walpole 19). Next, a painting comes to life, and then a door is closed an invisible hand” and cannot be reopened (26). [...]
[...] Father Jerome, rather than asking, simply tells one of the monks, “Thou dreamest,” when he (mistakenly) declares that Hippolita is dead (63). References to visions, delerium, and other dream-related ideas abound in the story too ( 38). With good reason, Castle of Otranto has been called [ . ] vision or dream projected into real life' [ . (Varma 68). Works Cited Bayer-Berenbaum, Linda. “Elements of the Gothic.” Horror. Ed. Michael Stuprich. San Diego: Greenhaven 73-83. Botting, Fred. “Horror.” The Handbook to Gothic Literature. [...]
[...] Amazingly, The Castle of Otranto is even more saturated with examples of determinism than it is with doubles. In fact, the very first page of the novel, a prophecy connects past, present, and future, [ . ] invoking the uncanny concept of determinism” in that a prophecy, especially if it is fulfilled, implies an unavoidable situation—one controlled by fate or some other higher power (30). A prophecy, “that the castle and lordship of Otranto should pass from the present family, whenever the real owner should be grown too large to inhabit implies an unavoidable situation, one controlled by fate (Walpole 17). [...]
[...] Right when Manfred finds out that Matilda is dead, clap of thunder [shakes] the castle to its foundations; the earth rock[s], and the clank of more than mortal armour heard behind.” Then, as Theodore enters the court, the castle walls come crashing down the form of Alfonso, dilated to an immense magnitude, appear[s] in the centre of the ruins.” (112). It speaks and then rises into the sky, where it is met by Saint Nicholas, and together, they disappear into heaven (113). [...]
[...] and I promise thee the life of thy he says the first time (Walpole in the next chapter he tells Jerome, “[Theodore's] life depends on your obedience” (61). Another type of uncanny occurence the story of Otranto illustrates is the doppelgänger, or double, a concept closely related to the previously discussed category, repetition. As Christensen declares, Otranto is “teeming with mirrored and split personalities,” both of which fall under the doppelgänger category (30). Manfred is mirrored by the living portrait of his grandfather, and Theodore, too, is a mirror image of his grandfather, Alfonso. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee