Representing the Craft of Terror, Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho causes the reader to imagine and cross-examine those imaginings. She uses sound and description of surroundings to suggest something that will happen instead of describing it exactly. It gives a feeling of dread and leaves imagination to react upon the few hints that has been dropped. It permits one’s imagination to run wild, creating a rush of fear through one.
However, Radcliffe is trying to put across the idea of fear of the unknown, People tend to scare themselves even though the lack of tangible evidence. It is somewhat a straightaway conclusion that the lack of knowledge of something might actually be harmful. Causing shock and disgust, Matthew Lewis’s The Monk and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein represent the Chamber of Horror. The protagonist Ambrosio, the ‘holiest man of Madrid’, was capable of committing one of the seven deadly sins.
It evokes fear, however, it is the idea of how even an omnipotent and omniscient person can succumb to temptation that Lewis tries to put across readers. Lewis’ description of the discovery of Agnes appears to be grotesque and repugnant. “A Creature stretched upon a bed of straw, so wretched, so emaciated, so pale, that He doubted to think her Woman. ” This shows the thin line between recognition where a human being can be mistaken for a creature. It is conflicting and illogical, making one having questions and doubts about himself.
Mary Shelley has conveyed a theme that has been prevalent through gothic history in Frankenstein: theme of knowledge. Several authors have conveyed the idea that too much knowledge is not always good. Using gothic tendencies, she portrays to the reader that knowledge can be horrifying to a person as they realize and learn all that they do not have but want. The same horror the reader feels when learning about the monster is the same horror the monster feels for him.
The idea of knowledge can also be seen in The Monk where Ambrosio murdered Elvira when she caught him red-handed trying to rape her daughter, Antonia. As shown, the primary aim in gothic literature is more than to evoke fear in the reader. The authors use gothic characteristics of grotesque characters and uncanny situations to warn the reader about a deeper theme. The terror felt by the reader mimics the terror another character is feeling in dealing with the hidden theme.