Homoerotic And Homophobic Possibilities In The Castle Of Otranto

1393 words - 6 pages

Homoerotic and Homophobic Possibilities in The Castle of Otranto

Eve Sedgwick describes the gothic novel as a “dialectic between the homosexual and homophobic” (92). Homosexuality was first recognized in the eighteenth century and resulted in far reaching social responses. With the establishment of the term “homosexuality”, social tensions appeared. These tensions found their way into novels as fears of sexuality and the struggle for sexual expression. Sedgwick terms this emerging homoeroticism as the “gothic unspeakable”, which is reflected through the depiction of male class and male sexuality (95). Although homosexuality is not explicitly discussed in the text of Otranto, some critics find the relationships and behaviours between the male characters to manifest Sedgwick’s queer reading of the gothic novel.

Research on Walpole has yet to turn up any concrete evidence that proves he had a preference for men. However, analysts of Walpole’s letters have found that he had developed strong intimate relationships with men that can only be described as romantic, and therefore homoerotic in nature (Fincher 231). Historically, Walpole has also been accused of being effeminate. In a pamphlet written by William Guthrie, an attack is made on Walpole’s “ambiguous gender”, of which Guthrie describes Walpole as “delicate” of “the third sex” and “possessing a most ladylike manner” (Fincher 233). There is always the possibility that Guthrie’s pamphlet was only written out of anger. Never the less, it functions as a piece of evidence that suggests Walpole’s sexuality, as well as provides an indication of the attitude towards homosexuality at the time.

If indeed Walpole had homoerotic tendencies, then his sexuality would “give rise to recurring themes and literary obsessions” (Haggerty 331). Homoeroticism is absent on a surface reading of Otranto. However, there appears to be some underlying themes pertaining to homoeroticism. Queer theorists state that Walpole imposes a fear of his sexuality in Otranto because of his personal homoerotic tendencies for men, and his understanding of the public's disapproval.

Preoccupation with the exposure of identity is a direct parallel to the exposure of one’s sexuality (Fincher 233). Here, Manfred’s fear of the exposure of his family history understood as Walpole’s fear of his sexuality being revealed. A homosexual outing and Manfred’s family outing share similar characteristics, such as ignorance and remaining silent. Sedgwick argues that the key concept of a sexual outing is the ignorance (qtd. in Fincher 234). The ignorance creates a feeling of the uncanny from the “revelation of the unknowing…as a weighty epistemological space” (qtd. in Fincher 234). When Theodore appears in the novel, Manfred is ignorant of Theodore’s identity. However, Manfred is uneasy around Theodore because he senses a problem with Theodore’s arrival, even though the problem has yet to be discovered. This anxiety mirrors the feeling of the...

Find Another Essay On Homoerotic and Homophobic Possibilities in The Castle of Otranto

Comparative essay on the novels Castle of Otranto and The Wasp Factory

1632 words - 7 pages Both The Castle of Otranto and The Wasp Factory depict the sins of the past catching up to the present. While Horace Walpole does so to demonstrate that we have no control over our fate, Iain Banks does so to argue that we do control our destiny. In Castle of Otranto, the main characters' fates are controlled by the sins of the past, which are represented by supernatural forces. Conversely, in Wasp Factory, when Frank finds out his true identity

Feminist Perspective of A Sicilian Romance and The Castle of Otranto

2845 words - 11 pages A Feminist Perspective of A Sicilian Romance and The Castle of Otranto   In eighteenth century novels, a common means of discussing the role of women in society is through the characterization of two good sisters. The heroine of such a novel is a pure, kind young woman who also has a streak of spunkiness. Her sister may be more good and kind, but she is more submissive and reserved. I would like to look at these sisters (and their mothers

Castle of Otranto Preface Analysis

2385 words - 10 pages Horace Walpole (1717-1797) invented the Gothic novel in his attempt to blend wildness and imagination of the old romance, in his own words "an attempt to blend the two kinds of romance, the ancient and the modern'' in one step altogether, the Castle of Otranto. A novel he claimed to have written immediately after being inspired by a dream, "I waked one morning...from a dream, of which all I could recover was, that I had thought myself in an

Horace Warpole’s The Castle of Otranto Compared to Oedipus Rex

1924 words - 8 pages Romance, murder, superstition, ghosts, darkness, religion, and castles are some of the features of the paradigm of the Gothic genre in literature. Horace Warpole’s The Castle of Otranto was the first Gothic novel and the above aspects, which he used as tropes, defines the genre. The story of The Castle of Otranto follows the downfall of the protagonist, Manfred, beginning with him as a Prince, then having to sign his abdication and working

Characterization, Identities, and the Supernatural in Otranto

2195 words - 9 pages and his/her displays of emotion combine in Otranto to make what amounts to a thoroughly ludicrous cast. There is some debate over the substitution of flat characters for even a single dynamic characters. Was this a deliberate choice on the part of the author? Some possibilities that may arise include the suggestion that Walpole was unskilled as an author and consequently, was unable to write “well.” Another suggestion is that Walpole's skill as

Taking The Castle of Otranto as your example, outline the main conventions

1327 words - 5 pages on? Gothic novels purport to revive old stories and beliefs, exploring personal, psychical encounters with the taboo (Williams, 2000). The genre, as typified by The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, involves a beautiful innocent young woman who is held captive by an older, powerful, evil man in his large, ancient and gloomy residence for his own lustful purposes and who escapes, with the aid of supernatural manifestations, errors

Lateritic Soils in the Tropics: The Problems and Management Possibilities

1810 words - 7 pages Lateritic Soils in the Tropics: The Problems and Management Possibilities The soil name "laterite" comes from a Latin word "later" meaning brick. It is an appropriate name, as soils under this classification are characterized by forming hard, impenetrable and often irreversible pans when dried (Soils and Soil Fertility 1993). Lateritic soils are also characterized by their low soil fertility. Due to the high rate of weathering, and

Chaos in the Castle

1275 words - 6 pages . James was so surprised that he couldn’t even believe that this had happened. Why would Cratchit want to stop Elsa from being queen? The guards check his pockets and found the missing crown. All along, Cratchit was the thief and kidnapper. He was given a key to the castle, and never returned it. This is how he got in, using the old key. The guards forced Cratchit to tell the reason of why he did this. Cratchit said that all his life he wanted to stop

The Possibilities of Utopias in Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

734 words - 3 pages The idea of the perfect and model state has existed since the beginning of civilization. In Jonathon Swift’s satirical novel Gulliver’s Travels, Gulliver travels to remote lands and is keen on analyzing and investigating the possibility of utopias. There are noticeable instances of utopias in Gulliver’s Travels; such is symbolized by the Houyhnhnms and the Lilliputians. However, most of these states could not be logically achievable in Swifts

The Possibilities of Brave New World in Our Society

1123 words - 5 pages . It all starts with the genetic modification of bacteria leading up to genetically modified humans, and then eventually having children being conceived in test tubes. All these studies, experiments, and inventions being done today are the stepping stones to a controlled society in Brave New World. Genetic modification in our world all started with the genetic modification of bacteria according to Theresa Philips of Nature Publishing Group

The Possibilities of Brave New World in our Society

1092 words - 5 pages requires. For instance, the Alphas are set to believe that they have the best jobs, whereas the Epsilons believe that their jobs are better because they don’t have work as hard as the other castes. The science and technology within Brave New World is what makes this society possible. The science and technology being invented today have the potential of our real world society ending up much like the society in Brave New World. Starting with the study

Similar Essays

The Castle Of Otranto, By Horace Walpole

1454 words - 6 pages literature is whenever there is a woman who is not following the social norms, they seem to be the driving conflict behind the plotline and ultimately lead to any present happy ending. Castle of Otranto provides a prime example of the contrasting roles of the women. Multiple times Hippolita is described as and acts in a way that reflects the ideal submissive woman. Hippolita does as Manfred says no matter what she is asked, even to the point where

Gothic Fiction: The Representation Of Evil In Horace Walpole’s The Castle Of Otranto

2368 words - 9 pages Gothic Fiction: The Representation of Evil in Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto. The Castle of Otranto is a 1764 novel written by Horace Walpole. It is regarded as the first Gothic novel, initiating a new literary genre which became extremely popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Gothic literature’s desire to explore the unknown, the unexplainable, inexplicable and the terrifying can be seen as a reaction to

Gothic Elements:The Castle Of Otranto By Walpole And A Scene In Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey

1645 words - 7 pages When a person thinks about gothic today, they might think of a sparkly vampire or a hunky Frankenstein in popularized films. This has led to parodies upon these adaptations of the gothic. This relationship between traditional gothic characters and parodies is not a new subject but a very interesting dynamic. I would like to discuss how one scene from the typical gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, and a scene from Jane

The Castle Of Otranto And Wuthering Heights: Love Beyond Classes, Life, And Death

1436 words - 6 pages Setting his work in the Middle Ages in a remote castle with horror and fantastic elements, Horace Walpole popularized the Gothic Romance genre with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto. He was the vanguard in bring thrills to readers with ancient prophecies, mysterious deaths, specters and supernatural events in his novel. However, the Gothic genre reaches a climax in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847), which is marked by its