This essay Monika Mezyk has a total of 1531 words and 12 pages.
In Ann Radcliffe's "The Italian", the very first thing that we see
described is a veiled woman:
"It was in the church of San Lorenzo at Naples, in the year 1758, that
Vincentio di Vivaldi first saw Ellena di Rosalba. The sweetness and fine
expression of her voice attracted his attention to her figure, which had a
distinguished air of delicacy and grace; but her face was concealed in her
veil. So much was he fascinated by the voice, that a most painful curiosity
was excited as to her countenance, which he fancied must express all the
sensibility of character that the modulation of her tones indicated" (5).
Even without knowing anything about Gothic elements, this indicates very
clearly what the quality and tone of the book are going to be like.
Vivaldi's pursuit of the veiled woman is a signal that his is the pursuit of
the mysterious, with the certainty that it will be beautiful. This certainly
does seem to be a great fascination in the novel; it is a component and
often a catalyst for that anxiety which runs throughout.
It is this anxiety which causes the heightening of our emotions; our
emotions are heightened as we watch the characters' pursuit of the
mysterious; and our curiosity is excited more and more until we are nearly
begging for its gratification. But Radcliffe heightens our emotions without
satisfying our curiosity, or at least not enough. For example, the very
first chapter establishes a sense of mystery about the assassin in the
Church. The Englishman inquires as much for himself as for us about the
assassin. His concern and state of shock invoke our own inquiry into this
odd circumstance and then his Italian friend tells him a mystery without
actually telling him anything:
"'He [the assassin] sought sanctuary here', replied the friar; 'within these
walls he may not be hurt'"(2).
He makes it clear that there is a story here but that it is long and
suspenseful, maybe shocking:
"'It is much too long to be related now; that would occupy a week; I have it
in writing, and will send you the volume'" (3).
What it is exactly, or what the tale is going to be is only hinted at in a
very curiosity invoking way: as if it is a secret.
Instead of the Englishman and his Italian friend going down to the
street caf? and relating the story, the Italian friend says that he will
send him something written the following day and then the passage stops. We
are tempted, as is the Englishman, by these curious circumstances and yet
nothing is revealed to us other that the implication that soon all will be
revealed (after a couple hundred pages). What Radcliffe does is that she
creates our sensation of terror; she suspends our disbelief that much
longer, building our curiosity and our need to know to a brilliant height
and then-nothing: the story takes a different turn and gratification is
postponed while our expectation and anticipation is increased.
This happens in the very beginning passage in which Radcliffe
starts "The Italian" by providing just enough information to suck us into
her tale and, then, just as we expect pay off, she postpones it a little
further while providing just enough information to keep us intrigued. And,
before we know it, we, the reader, are entangled in her Gothic quicksand and
greedily reading in search of the secrets she buries before our eyes. When
Vivaldi rushes into the Villa after the mysterious cloaked figure that has
escaped him, he emerges pale: we know something has happened and await his
tale but he tells us nothing, he refuses to say anything and, thus, we are
left suspended in the wake of mystery. Another example when we are suspended
in the wake of mystery occurs when Vivaldi and Paolo are in the dungeon
imagining the garments lying on the floor to be moving. We do not find out
whether or not these garments belong to someone murdered until the end of
the novel; so this incident leaves us in a state of suspense:
'It moves!' exclaimed Paolo; 'I see it move!' as he said which, he started
to the opposite side of the chamber. Vivaldi stepped a few paces back, and
as quickly returned; when, determined to know the event at once, he raised
the point of his
Topics Related to Monika Mezyk
Romanticism, The Italian, Emotions, Virtue, Curiosity, church of san lorenzo, odd circumstance, gothic elements, veiled woman, state of shock, ann radcliffe, italian friend, vivaldi, countenance, delicacy, englishman, gratification, friar, modulation, curiosity, veil, fascination, assassin, sweetness, catalyst
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