2. What passages can you point to that reveal the influence of the interest in sentimentalism during this period in English literary history?
3. Discuss the theme of the "tyrannical male" in the novel. Which characters and which actions supply examples?
4. The speeches in the novel have been described as embarrassingly stilted and unnatural. True or false? Discuss.
5. As the Gothic novel developed, some writers (such as Ann Radcliffe, for example) stressed mysterious events that appeared to be supernatural but which later proved to be natural (for example, the mysterious light in the window was not a ghost but a servant with a candle feeding a secret prisoner). Which mysterious events in Otranto are truly supernatural and which are only apparently so? Which do you find more effective in terms of their mystery or their scariness? Why?
6. How would you describe the religious nature of the book? In his first preface, Walpole pretends it was written by a Catholic. Would you describe the book as Catholic? Christian? Religious? Anti-religious? A bizarre mixture? Think about the presence of piety, religion, superstition, and an obsession with fate and omens. Can a coherent system be discerned from all these? Can the characters' personal belief systems be discerned?
1. Trace the emotion of unhappiness in the novel. Where are the peaks and where the valleys? That is, where is the language of unhappiness concentrated? Look for unhappiness-related words such as affliction, despair, woes, suffer, agony, despairing, tears, woe, grief, afflicted, sorrow, weep, disconsolate, melancholy, unhappy, wretched, misfortune, misfortunes, anguish, sigh, hopeless, dismal, sorrows, sadly, miserable, mournfully. As you read through the text, circle the words related to this theme and make a list of unique words. Remember to include variants as separate entries (woe, woes, for example). When you have your graph, return to the text to locate the thematic context. Do you find the peaks of unhappiness at expected or unexpected places?
2. Take one of the themes from the article, "Elements of the Gothic Novel" and graph it. Think about graphing more than one theme at the same time to see if there is a correlation or an inverse relationship.
3. What is the role of questions in the novel? This analysis can be performed using only a word processor. Search for the question mark. When you find a question, examine its location and function. When you have done this throughout the novel, use your inductive skills to come to some conclusions.
4. What is the role of fate in the novel? Does reference to fate increase,
decrease, or remain the same throughout? What is the significance of your
findings? Look for fate-related words such as fate, destiny, destined,
omen, omens, doom, doomed, portent, portents, prophecy.