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The Deception and Destruction of Purity in The Italian

The Deception and Destruction of Purity in The Italian

Purity in the Gothic genre can be perceived from so many points of view. It involves sex, beauty, perception, and people’s position in society. “The Italian” has many characters that behold either one or more of these traits. In this paper, we will explore how Ann Radcliffe uses purity and the deception and destruction of it to enhance her character’s role in the Gothic genre.

“The sweetness and fine expression of her voice attracted his attention to her figure, which had a distinguished air of delicacy and grace; but her face was concealed in her veil. (page 5)” From the very beginning of the book, Radcliffe lets us know that beauty and attraction will play an intricate part in the development of the story. But she also lets us know that it will not be an open perception, she hints toward an element of intrigue combined with the person’s role that they play within society. Through the entire book, we find that Vivaldi is obsessed with the beauty of Ellena. Ellena appears to be so perfect and pure, Vivaldi can not help but to fall in love with her. Here sex and beauty themselves end up being the instigators of deception and destruction.

As Vivaldi tries to get closer to Ellena, she seems to withdraw more and more into hiding. This creates an air of intrigue that makes Ellena more than irresistible to Vivaldi. This curiosity and intrigue that perplexes Vivaldi only becomes greater when he meets a mysterious monk on the road to Ellena’s house. The monk warns Vivladi that he needs to stop his pursuit of Ellena and then he mysteriously disappears. So Vivaldi’s intrigue that ends up being so deceptive and destructive, now exists on two levels with Ellena and the mon…

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…as as deceptive and destructive as they come. For one, she held Ellena prisoner for frivolous reasons. Two, she tried to force Ellena to take the vows of a nun. I also believed that Olivia was deceptive, she tricked the Abbess and helped Ellena escape. So you see, you can not always trust the stereotypes of society, because even the most sanctimonious and respectable people can be the masters of art in deception and destruction of what is right, good, and pure.

All five elements of purity in the Gothic genre have been deceived and destroyed in more ways than one. So whatever ideas of purity that anybody had before reading Ann Radcliffe’s “The Italian,” they are now completely altered and set in an entirely different genre. Do not always believe what you hear or see because you never know what deceptive or destructive element might be lurking around the corner.

Use of Foreshadowing in Anne Radcliffe’s The Italian

Use of Foreshadowing in The Italian

Anne Radcliffe incorporates many aspects of the Gothic into her novel, The Italian. In this book, one can find an exciting exploration of an exotic culture, a history of family secrets, subtle hints at supernatural forces at work, and Gothic architecture in both ruins and in the Inquisition prison. However, perhaps the most prominent feature of the Gothic used in this novel is the element of suspense. Radcliffe creates suspense in The Italian through a chain of foreshadowed events that lure the reader further and further into the story.

Several of the most noticeable means of foreshadowing are found at the beginning of each chapter. From reading the quotes that Radcliffe uses to launch each chapter, the reader can tell more or less what the next few pages will have in store. An example of such a quote can be found at the beginning of the first chapter, “What is this secret sin; this untold tale, That art cannot extract, nor penance cleanse?” – Mysterious Mother (5). From reading this quote, one can already foresee that the story involves a great family secret, and this secret could very well pertain to a mother or a mother figure. It is also safe to assume that this secret has been revealed in confession. This assumption can also be supported by the information revealed in the preceding pages, in which the reader learns that the story he is reading is a written account of a confession made at a convent of the order of the Black Penitents. However, the secret is so great that even penance cannot cleanse the guilty. It is amazing how much this short introductory quote reveals, especially since it is found so early in the novel.

Radcliffe also reveals certain aspects of a …

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…s a mother’s would. A few pages later, Olivia discovers the identity of Ellena (92-93). It is apparent that she is deeply affected when she learns Ellena’s full name. These instances support the notion that Olivia and Ellena are connected, but the reader must wait until the end of the book to discover their relationship.

In The Italian, Anne Radcliffe uses the technique of foreshadowing in such a way that the reader can make accurate assumptions about major points in the novel. However, Radcliffe is careful not to reveal too much information and merely makes suggestions as to what might occur later in the novel. This clever approach entices the reader and keeps him/her interested in the story. When the reader finally finishes the novel, the suspenseful mystery that Radcliffe has created all comes together and leaves the reader satisfied.

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