Terror in Irish Gothic Fiction

2004 Words9 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 shall deal with Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897), William Carlton's Wildgoose Lodge and Charles Robert Maturin's Bertram (1816).

What we could say, before we begin to analyse each text for examples of how obscurity creates terror, is that all three of these texts, as they are set in the same century in Ireland, may be deemed intertextual. There are certain themes and motifs that run through all Gothic fiction let alone Irish work. This is not to suggest that each is directly related to the other, simply that there be a `collective undercurrent' of ideas and imagery passing through this genre of literature, and perhaps to suggest where `terror' exists in one may be to suggest where it exists in all.

For example, if we were to look briefly at the openings of each text, we can see that each is introduced under the same `typical' Gothic style. The use of pathetic fallacy is usually employed for maximum effect, for example in Dracula, Stoker opens with Jonathan Harker being driven towards Dracu...

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...ttp://www.bartleby.com/24/2/202.html">http://www.bartleby.com/24/2/202.html. Consulted 23/3/06.

Extracts from Burke, Edmund. A Philosophical Enquiry Into the Origins of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful.

Part 3, chapter 2 : Terror (http://www.bartleby.com/24/2/202.html)

Part 3, chapter 4 : Of the Difference Between Clearness and Obscurity with Regard to the Passions (http://www.bartleby.com/24/2/204.html)

Part 3, chapter 11 : How Far the Idea of Beauty May be Applied to Virtue (http://www.bartleby.com/24/2/311.html)

Rice, Philip and Patricia Waugh, eds. Modern Literary Theory: A Reader. (Hodder Arnold, 2001)

The Theatrical Inquisitor 1816, pages 375-377.
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