Monday, December 30, 2019

Characterization, Identities, and the Supernatural in...

The Divided Self: Characterization, Identities, and the Supernatural A cursory first reading of Horace Walpoles Otranto might yield an impression that its characters are thoroughly superficial, shallow, and flat, almost to the point of being laughably so. A single character mold seems to have been applied to each character: Manfred is the incestuous tyrant, Hippolita is the helplessly devoted wife, Matilda is the picture of â€Å"tenderness and duty† (38), and Theodore is the chivalrous protector of delicate young ladies. As some critics have pointed out, each character is described heavy-handedly, and the author provides no keys into the inner minds of the characters, relying instead of outward displays of excess emotion (Sedgwick 131).†¦show more content†¦Given the eighteenth-century expectation that women depended excessively on their sensibility for knowledge, it is no surprise that Isabella rejects the reality that confronts her, as she has been indoctrinated to disregard her own perceptions. Although Otrantos characters reflect the social expectations that surround them, it is still an overstatement to claim that these characters are dynamic in the way that a character like Hamlet is. Nonetheless, it is overly simplistic to claim merely that these characters are flat. To account for this middle way, between flatness and dynamism, perhaps a new term needs to be coined? The term that I propose, and will use for the duration of my discussion is â€Å"ideologically-reflective.† I take this to mean that the characters are embodiments of expectations and ideology, rather than of realism. ~*~ Part of the explanation for the emergence of these â€Å"ideologically-reflective† characters that are neither dynamic nor flat is perhaps tied to the idea of the â€Å"divided self† – the self that lacks an individual, self-determined, fixed identity and exists without psychological or emotional depth. My argument is that Otrantos characters can all be seen as â€Å"divided selves† because their identities are contingent and imposed from without. Furthermore, the characters can be seen as having â€Å"surface† without

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