Sicilian Romance Essay on Questions, Article Critique Example

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Article Critique

The novel, the Sicilian Romance was written by Ann Radcliff and published in 1790.  The novel is considered a gothic novel, which is a novel that uses both horror and romance.  The story of the Sicilian Romance deals with the changing history and the fall of the aristocrats in the house of Mazzini, along the northern coastline of Sicily, through a tourist that listens to the entertaining stories of a monk that he encounters in the ruins of a castle.  Throughout the novel the stories are about the people in the Mazzini family, their love affairs, and tragedies.  All of the tragedies in the story seem to be centered on the Mazzini castle.   Although the novel has many horror stories within it, in regard to killings, suicides and death, the author does a good job of creating some sort of charm to the story as well.  Radcliffe describes the beautiful landscapes of Sicily, which at times obscures the terror behind the real story.

The terror and charm is where a sublime is created. The mixture of both charm and fear that is created in the story creates a sublime that excites the reader with both terror and pleasure.  The sublime in the novel, however, is gendered.  The novel is basically about the difference between both men and women.  In the novel, the terror is created from the men who are both corrupt and ruthless.  The effect that their acts have on the women and other people in their life turns tragic.  In fact, the presence of men in some of the instances throughout the story makes the women upset and crazy, with feelings of anxiety.  In addition, there are scenes in the book where the men are present there are storms occurring, this is further indicating terror.  Furthermore, even in love scenes there is always some sort of terror or anxiety, even with passion.  Therefore, the author does create sublime as the sole domain of the men.

The author of the novel also genders the “finding of the manuscript”.  The tourist that reads the manuscript that was written by a monk that he met in the castle.  Therefore, the story that the monk shares with the tourist was written by a man. This indicates that Radcliffe created a gendered trope in which a man wrote the story, but shows the men in the story as the cause of the terror that occurs.  The terror in the story is what intrigues the reader and builds the imagination of the reader.  It is mostly the suspense of the terror that seems to build the imagination in combination with the mystery of the castle that is created.  For instance, the characters Julia and Emily lived their whole life in the castle, but never entered the south wing of the castle due to the anxiety of the character Ferdinand.  Ferdinand is a male character, which again, we see the gendered approach of negativity created by the male characters towards the female characters.

The castle itself in the novel functions as a gendered metaphor because the social relations between the men and the women in the story all occur in the castle.  For instance, the characters Julia and Emily never leave the castle and Julia ends up falling for a count that attends a party that her father throws at the castle.  Julia intends on marrying the count, but he dies and she is then locked in the castle and forced to marry someone she doesn’t want to.  In addition, she finds her mother; whom she thought was dead locked up in the castle as well.  Whatever terror that arises from the male characters in the story affects the females deeply and each incident is placed in the form of a space within the castle, whether a joyful moment, such as Julia meeting the count, or a moment of horror, such as Julia finding her locked up mother.

Overall, the author created this gothic novel with many functions of gendered metaphors in regard to the sublime, the story-telling, and through the actual place, the castle, where the story took place.

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