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Sarah Green

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Critical Essay: The development of Sarah Green as a Gothic writer, and the progression towards the conventions of ‘female’ Gothic


Sarah Green


Gothic writing was introduced in 1765 and since then has gained popularity with readers and critics alike. The popularity of the genre influenced authors to experiment in their style of writing, moving from the traditional romances to supernatural, sensational novels. Sarah Green was , in essence, a romance novelist but she wrote two Gothic novels during her writing career, The Festival of St. Jago (1810) and The Carthusian Friar (1814). Although these novels were published within a few years of one another, sharing a number of similar themes and concerns, they do differ from one another, as the former follows the traditions of early Gothic writing, whilst the latter moves towards the conventions of the ‘female Gothic’. This literary transition will be explored and the style of Green’s writing will be investigated further.

Early Gothic

The Gothic genre was introduced in 1765 with the first publication of The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story, by Horace Walpole, now considered as the founding father of the genre. The contemporary audiences found this new literary mode to be both intriguing and frightening, and the first Gothic text was greeted with a mixed reception. Gothic used many elements of the romance novel but inverted and transformed them to highlight the darker and sinister side of life, in a way that reflected the tensions within society (Howells 1978; 5). The general public recognised the truth in these concerns, and this frightened them. In the light of Gothic literature, the masses slowly began to realise that it was time for a change in society (Day 1985; 81). Therefore, social and literary problems merged into one, emphasising the dangers of a capitalist society (Day 1985; 81).

As previously mentioned, there were mixed opinions of The Castle of Otranto. Initially, Walpole was praised for his distinctive style of writing, his eloquent use of language and his apt characterisations, but after the second publication of the novel, containing Walpole’s revised introduction, the controversy and hostility surrounding Gothic increased. As a consequence, The Castle of Otranto was widely criticised for its weak narrative structure, and Walpole’s intentions for the Gothic genre were questioned (Clery 1994; 59). Clara Reeve in particular was doubtful of Walpole, stating that his novel was too short, the plot was weak and it was full of ambiguities (Sage 1990; 85). The literary community remained dubious of this new genre, maintaining their beliefs that there was ‘nothing confident or optimistic about Gothic fiction’ (Howells 1978; 6). Gothic writing was soon referred to ‘as a dangerous form of romance’ (Sage 1990; 9), with ‘gothic absurdities’ (Clery 1994; 59).

Despite the negative and hostile opinions of the literary critics, the public was enthusiastic towards this revolutionary writing. Despite their fears of the social problems contained within these novels, Gothic literature gradually gained popularity. Consequently, the readership profile was affected and authors reacted to this change by experimenting with their writing and following the Gothic trend.

Sarah Green wrote the first of her two Gothic novels, The Festival of St. Jago in 1810 (a busy year for the publications of Green’s work). This novel is quite similar to Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto in a number of ways and consequently, it could be said that it shared a number of Walpole’s weaknesses. The plot is loose and somewhat confusing in places, and it is also a relatively short novel. However, Green includes the key themes that are fundamental to Gothic novels, as established by Walpole.

The earlier Gothic novels tended to share common features, and these became characteristic of the early, or ‘male’ Gothic form of writing (Milbank 1994; 143). Traditionally, early gothic novels (sometimes referred to as the ‘male’ Gothic) are set in wild and unpredictable landscapes, representing the power that exists within society, and the threat and menace that this poses upon individuals (Howells 1978; 24). The main function of the landscape is to provide a visual representation of the emotional state of the character’s mind, and to establish the mysterious mood of the novel. In true tradition, The Festival of St. Jago is set in the mountainous forests of Central Spain, where ‘the mazes of the forest, the foliage of the trees’ (I, 41) creates a typically threatening environment. To increase the atmospheric quality of the novel, Green describes how the ‘black clouds flitted along, and often became stationary over the sickly-looking moon’ (I, 41), whilst in the background there is the ‘faint sound of a convent bell’ (I, 41). Throughout the novel, the reader is reminded of the constant presence of the ‘thick-set’ (II, 6) forest and the threats of an ‘approaching storm’ (I, 15), and this accentuates the dangers of the uncontrollable and unpredictable physiological forces. The darkness and intrigue symbolises the mental and emotional turmoil of the inhabitants of this forest (Botting 1994; 91), and the sinister landscape becomes internalised by the characters themselves.

The central theme of all Gothic novels is the presence and symbolism of the Gothic castle. Ruinous abbeys and monasteries are also popular and hold a similar significance to the castle, with ghosts, prisoners and nightmares regular visitors to them. Howells (1978; 6) sees the Gothic castle as being ‘a shadowy world of ruins and twilight scenery lit up from time to time by lurid flashes of passion and violence’. Therefore, the gloominess of the exterior and interior environment is illuminated by the intense emotional and passionate moments of the characters that inhabit the castle. The castle is the ‘lair of the Gothic villain’ (Sage 1990; 166) and it is an accurate reflection of his dark and frightening character. In The Festival of St. Jago, the ‘uninhabitable pile of ruin’ (II, 7) and the ‘towering and threatening height’ (I, 42) of the ruinous castle is the mirror image of the vengeful and evil tormentor, Pedro. Also, the crumbling and dilapidated Gothic buildings represent the failure and ruin of its owners, in this particular novel, the Gusman family. The castle is left to ruin by Don Gusman after the revelation of his wife’s infidelity. He is distraught, and allows his family unit and his home to deteriorate whilst he retires from society. This links to the suggestion that the castle represents the family’s economic loss (Copeland 1995; 46). As family relationships break down, so do the lines of family inheritance (as discussed later).

The final theme of the ‘male’ Gothic is the castle becoming a place of imprisonment. Confinement and rescue were extremely common events in Gothic novels, and this was seen as an expression of repression within the characters (Day 1985; 79). Usually, it was the male characters that imprisoned females, suggesting that it was a way for males to suppress their sexual desires for these particular females. In The Festival of St. Jago, Don Gusman and Pedro imprison a number of characters for varying reasons. As previously mentioned, Don Gusman imprisoned his wife as punishment for her infidelity, as he ‘spurned the idea of forgiveness from his heart’ (I, 109). Therefore, imprisonment can be seen as a way for Don Gusman to control his wife, which allows him to retrieve his powerful and masculine position. However, Pedro’s motives for imprisonment are much more sadistic and malicious, which confirms his ‘cool and unfeeling character’ (I, 194).

Interestingly, the social institutions that are present in Gothic literature are also presented as a form of captivity (Day 1985; 80). The abbeys and monasteries are of the strictest and most disciplined order, and are used as a form of punishment or a fearful threat towards the characters. This is demonstrated when Gusman’s bitterness towards his wife extends to his daughter, Estifania, ‘whom he intended to have made a nun’ (I, 112). Religious institutions are also used for repentance, as the villains enter into conditions of confinement. This allows Green to withhold her position of moral authority, enforcing moral justice upon the characters. The conclusion of The Festival of St. Jago sees the two villains, Pedro and Lauretta, being confined to the boundaries of the strictest religious orders, ending ‘their days in penitent seclusion’ (II, 202).

The introduction of ‘female’ Gothic

William Lane, and his publishing house, the Minerva Press, contributed to the increase of female writers during the late eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century, allowing female writers to gain confidence and recognition within literary society (Blakey 1939; 27). The majority of the Minerva Press writers were women (Blakey 1939; 48), and their publications recognised the cultural shift towards ‘popular’ fiction, using Gothic conventions to attract the interest of the predominantly female audience (Botting 1995: 98). Gothic writing also allowed women to express their own frustrations with society in an acceptable manner (Copeland 1995; 96). Doody says that ‘It is in the Gothic novel that women writers could first accuse the ‘real’ world of falsehood and deep disorder. Or perhaps, they asked whether masculine control is not just another delusion in the nightmare of absurd reality in which we are all involved’. This statement encapsulates the women’s feelings of frustration and anger with their expected roles within society, and about the other social and economic problems that were also apparent during this period. Women were seen to have ‘the potential to cleanse the reading subject of the effects of a luxurious society by a personally liberating extension of the powers of imagination’ (Clery 1995; 105), therefore allowing a form of escapism for female readers.

In Literary Women (1977), Moers introduced the concept of the 'female Gothic' which was initially used to describe ‘the work that women have done in the literary mode that, since the eighteenth century, we have called the gothic’ (90). However, by using the term ‘female’, this states how female roles are challenged in this literary category (Miles 1994; 63). This sub-genre acknowledges and explores the concerns of women, as mentioned above, but within the classic ‘female’ Gothic plot; a female heroine fleeing from a patriarchal figure, searching for an absent mother within the traditional Gothic castle and threatening landscape (Miles 1994; 131). Moers suggests that Anne Radcliffe should be considered the founder of this feminine style, as she wrote many successful novels in the ‘female’ Gothic style. Her works include A Sicilian Romance (1790), The Romance of the Forest (1791), The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) and The Italian (1797). Her novels all share a similar plot, known as the ‘Radcliffian’ plot (Sage 1990; 131), where the young heroine flees her persecutor through underground tunnels in ruinous castles, and suffers the ongoing nightmare of being repetitively caught, and later escaping from her enemy. Radcliffe’s Gothic style was more acceptable, and appreciated by the literary community. Her accessible and eloquent style of writing dispersed the earlier criticisms of the genre, and Gothic became popular and intriguing once again.

Green’s second and final Gothic novel, The Carthusian Friar (1814) shares many similarities with Radcliffe’s The Romance of the Forest, and is directly influenced by the conventions and key characteristics of the ‘female’ Gothic. The central concern is identity and character of the innocent heroine, who is in the care of a seemingly caring, but actually malicious father figure who ultimately betrays the female. However, as the heroine becomes aware of the dangers that exist within society, the focus of the novel gradually moves towards the development and maturity of her character, and she finally achieves happiness and independence in her life. ‘Female’ Gothic writers used these father-daughter relationships to highlight how easily women became dependent upon men from a very early age, laying the foundations for male domination throughout society. The heroine becomes the author’s tool, allowing them to manipulate and direct the plot, and accentuating the principal interests of the female writers.

Agnes, the heroine of The Carthusian Friar is very similar to Adeline in Radcliffe’s The Romance of the Forest. Agnes is a typical heroine who is ‘fair and sylph-like’ (I, 11), with ‘azure eyes’, ‘fine hair’ (I, 12) and ‘a countenance of angelic expression’ (I, 11). She is innocent and naïve and in the care of Father Francis, a mysteriously dark and brooding character. He has educated and cared for Agnes since she was a small child and their relationship parallels Adeline’s relationship with her surrogate father figure, Pierre La Motte. It is evident that the Friar is very affectionate towards Agnes, and they have a very close bond, yet the reader is warned of Father Francis’s true character from the opening of the novel. He is described as having a ‘dark visage’, a ‘countenance whose lineaments appear to be stamped with crimes, deep and definite,’ (I, 16), and his eyes ‘fell with a kind of guilty shame, on his death-like and hollow cheek’ (I, 16).

A common theme of ‘female’ Gothic novels is the heroine’s search for her absent parents and the establishment of her personal identity. Agnes’s only information about her family background is that which the Friar chooses to tell her; that ‘she was of no common origin’ (54). Father Francis denies her of any more information than this. Although she seemed to spend her childhood happily in the ‘pleasant rural cottage which Father Francis inhabited’ (48), Agnes fails to develop her own individual character, and remains intrigued as to her true parentage. This was a frequent issue for female writers as the revelation and development of a female’s personal identity is required in order for them to become independent and self-reliant, which was the main aim for their female readers.

Although ‘female’ Gothic fiction is quite distinct from the earlier ‘male’ novels, some of the themes and images are used but modified to suit their concerns. These are portrayed through the masculine landscape, the Gothic castle and the theme of imprisonment. In The Carthusian Friar, Green describes the wild and rugged landscapes in the travelling scenes through French provinces and the Italian Alps. However, whilst the traditionally ‘desolate and antique castle’ ‘in the midst of a dark and gloomy forest’ (II, 104) still remains, the masculinity of the scenery is softened and feminised slightly. The ‘high towering mountains, which seemed to pierce the skies’ (I, 118) are subdued by the ‘rosy tinge of the clouds’ (I, 118) which surrounds them, and the hostile ‘Alpine vallies’ (II, 19) become part of the ‘picturesque view of the charming country’ (I, 183). Despite the feminisation of the environment, the dangers are still apparent, mirroring the threats that faced women in early nineteenth century society.

The presence of the Gothic castle is also still paramount in later works, and is used in two different ways. Firstly, the gradual ruin of the Castle of Montanville represents the deteriorating economic situation of its owner Madame de Coucy. Critics believed that the destruction of the Gothic castle mirrored the economic loss of the family (Copeland 1995; 46). Although there is no textual evidence to confirm Madame de Coucy’s dwindling finances, there are constant references to the gradual ruin of the castle. The ‘time-worn turrets’ (I, 1) are weathered by the ‘war of elements’ (I, 2), and this creates an aged atmosphere of her home.

Secondly, the Gothic castle is used to illustrate and reflect the personal situation of the female. The Castle of Montanville is initially described as very masculine and fearful, with its ‘ancient battlements’ (1), and ‘Gothic windows’ (9), but more noticeably it is portrayed as being very isolated and lonely, much like Madame de Coucy herself. ‘Mournfully whistled the wind’ (1), amongst the ‘time-worn turrets of the proud Castle’ (1), only to be ‘interrupted by the chirpings of a solitary cricket on the hearth of the good Madame de Coucy’ (9). These descriptions reflect the situation of its owner, and accentuate her feelings of despair and loneliness. Madame de Coucy has suffered the loss of ‘two beings between whom her fond affections were equally divided, that of a beloved husband and a lovely infant’ (87) and as a result feels secluded within the vastness of her own home. However, once the castle is inhabited with young, vibrant visitors, Madame de Coucy’s character lifts as ‘a gaiety was diffused over the ancient mansion’, and ‘the well-lighted towers seemed to laugh with joy’ (I, 88). Accordingly, the appearance of the castle is also transformed as ‘the budding buds of the thick foliage, which crowned…the antique and spacious domain of Montanville’ (99) highlight the more feminine and appealing features of the building. Once again, one of the most prolific and powerful characteristics of the Gothic genre becomes feminised under the influence of the female writers.

As in the earlier works, the theme of imprisonment and confinement is important, but it is mainly enforced upon the female characters with the males taking the roles of the captors and tormentors. It could be said that Agnes is imprisoned on three very different occasions during the novel. She is first kidnapped and imprisoned by her distant relative, Baron St. Alban. Then Count de Floreal, who has become besotted with Agnes, abducts her in an attempt to win her heart. Finally, it is suggested that her childhood in the French provinces was a form of confinement, as she lived in an isolated cottage with Father Francis. His reasons for isolating her may have been honest, in that he wanted to protect her from the materialistic society, but Green later implies that Father Francis had incestuous desires for Agnes. She resembles her mother, whom he once fell in love with, and so ‘the friar was delighted to gaze on her’, as ‘his affections… increased every hour’ (IV, 186). Incest wasn’t unusual in Gothic, and was used frequently to intensify the horror of the novels, as family relations turned sexual (Day 1985; 119).

Green’s Gothic writing

Although Green’s Gothic novels seem to belong to the two different sub-categories of the genre, there are a number of similarities in their plots, the thematic concerns, and the characterisations. Therefore, these accentuate the issues that dominated Green’s writing.

The main emphasis of both the plots is upon jealousy and revenge within families, in particular fraternal rivalry. In both novels there is envy and jealousy between brothers, and this rivalry leads to conflict, and ultimately, to the alienation of one of the brothers from society which increases the gulf in their relationship (Kilgour 1995; 37). Lopez and Antonio, the two brothers in The Festival of St. Jago, are contrasting characters with Lopez having ‘such an exterior, and all the polished graces of conversation’ (I, 24), ‘that the milder virtues of his brother Antonio were overlooked…though a brave and honourable young man’ (I, 24). Antonio’s character however, is juxtaposed with Lopez’s, making him ‘much more beloved than his brother’ (I, 26), so much so that their ‘wealthy maiden aunt left him sole heir to her immense riches’ (I, 24). This is the cause and the culmination of Lopez’s jealousy, and he declares ‘I love not, no, I almost hate Antonio: his life, so good, so virtuous, is a constant reproach on mine’ (I, 39). Similarly in The Carthusian Friar, jealousy of family inheritance is again the cause of fraternal rivalry between brothers Godfrey and Claude de Coucy (Father Francis). Whilst Godfrey became the ‘sole heir to wealth and honours’ (IV, 152), his younger brother ‘was doomed to a monastic life’ (IV, 152). Not only was Claude jealous of his brother’s inheritance, he was also in love with Godfrey’s beautiful wife, Cecilia de Belmont (Madame de Coucy). These two grievances become Claude’s motives for revenge, and together with his cousin Baron St. Alban, they ‘made a compact together, that they would pursue every plan of vengeance and prosecute unceasingly every method of injuring the Count de Montanville’ (IV, 159). Therefore, heavily entwined with fraternal conflict is the jealousy that poisons the powerful patriarchal line of inheritance (Day 1985; 80).

Throughout the Gothic plot the key thematic concerns are suggested and explored, and the main issues that Green addresses in her work is the idea of discovering a personal identity. This theme became popular in the work of Gothic writers (Kilgour 1995; 37) as it reflected their route of self-discovery, as they themselves were gaining recognition and credit within the literary community, and general society. This is presented through the story of Agnes, the orphaned heroine who lacks the protection of her family (Botting 1994; 188), and also through the presentation of separated and fragmented families. Kilgour believes that almost all Gothic novels centre upon a lonely, older lady, and as the plot develops they gradually become closer, leading to inter-linking relations and family members (1995; 76). It is important for the young girl to find her parents, establish family relationships, and to create her own individual identity and character. In The Festival of St. Jago, it is through a minor character of Aurora that the orphan child is presented. Although Aurora has contact with her mother, Donna Lauretta d’ Alzores, she is a bitter, avaricious and selfish lady. ‘Avarice was not left out among the vices with which the mind of Donna Lauretta was endowed, and envy and ambition were very predominant features in the composition of her character’ (I, 47-8). Lauretta’s jealousy is so powerful that she becomes envious of her daughter’s beauty, seeing herself as ‘the rival of her daughter, whom she now cordially hated’ (I, 57). Therefore, it is clear that Aurora and Lauretta have a very distant relationship, and consequently, Aurora becomes a solitary and reserved girl. When it is revealed that Aurora’s birth mother is the honourable Donna Elvira de Benvoglio whom she already shares an open and caring friendship with, Aurora’s character blossoms, finding happiness in her relationship with Don Lopez.

The orphan-child in The Carthusian Friar is the principal character, Agnes. As mentioned previously, the only information that Father Francis has given her about her family is ‘that she was the child of chance, and that chance CEMENTED IN BLOOD!’ (I, 125). Whilst she is unsure of her true social status, she constantly feels inadequate and inferior to the noble Italian party which she accompanies to Italy. Although she is suspicious of Count St. Marco’s love for her, her ‘unknown birth, and the dreadful mystery which hangs over that birth’ (II, 81) prevents her from accepting his advances and proposals. However, once her true identity is revealed and she realises that she is part of the wealthy De Coucy family, she feels worthy of becoming St. Marco’s wife, and finally accepts his marriage proposal. Juliette de Floreal, Agnes’s faithful friend, also discovers her true parents. She grew up believing that she was the De Floreal’s daughter (suppressing her desires for Count de Floreal), only to be told that ‘she was not the daughter of the Count de Floreal, but the offspring of a poor Italian fisherman’ (III, 123). Green continues this winding path of self-discovery by providing another twist to Juliette’s story, as she describes ‘the wonder and delight of the ci-devant Juliette de Floreal at finding herself the daughter of the Marchesa d’Albertoni’ (IV, 118). These are both examples of feminine literature where a peasant upbringing is swapped for a rich and noble family, cementing their true social status. The heroine is suddenly provided with a circle of love from the mother, and a powerful father figure to protect her (Day 1985; 76).

A continuation of this concern is the frequent double identities and use of disguises in both of Green’s texts. This was a popular image in Gothic novels and Kilgour believes that "the individual is not one self, but two" (1995; 78), the double identity reflecting the struggle within the character in their attempts to discover their ‘real’ self. The Festival of St. Jago opens with the description of Leonora ‘closely wrapped in a large mezarro, or black veil’ (I, 1-2), which triggered ‘an extraordinary degree of interest and curiosity’ (I, 1). Throughout the novel there are continuous references to disguises and costumes; ‘their dress entirely black, with red crosses on their left arm’ (I, 3), ‘concealed under the mask of consummate disguise’ (I, 4). However, in The Carthusian Friar, Green adopts a more extreme use of disguise, with the character of Count St. Marco adopting an alternative identity as Bernardo, the Italian painter whom Agnes originally falls in love with. Green uses this doubled persona to illustrate the distinction between St. Marco’s social role, and the expectations associated with this, and his own personal feelings. Count St. Marco is surrounded by a pretentious and class-orientated society, hosting parties and visiting friends, yet his true character is reflected in the humble and modest Bernardo. He can choose to ignore and reject the superficiality of the other aristocrats, attracted by the honourable and innocent Agnes instead of the ‘haughty, self-willed and impious’ Laurentina Albertoni. He accepts that Agnes is a ‘child of beggary and crime’ (II, 82), and he sees beyond this, realising that she is ‘innocent and good; and none but Agnes shall ever become the wife of St. Marco’ (II, 83). This utopian marriage of the heroine and hero is Green’s attempt at softening the previous horrors and dangers of the novel (Clery 1995; 123).

The final theme in Green’s novels is the presence of religion and its moral purpose. In previous Gothic texts, religion had created a great deal of criticism and controversy, and Kate Ferguson Ellis believes that "Corrupt Catholic institutions are the standard entry points of evil into the fictional world of the eighteenth century novel" (1994; 161). Catholicism has a strong presence and influence in Green’s Gothic novels, having both a liberating and fearful grasp upon individuals. Some characters are ‘instructed in a belief of miracles’ (I, 56) and trust in ‘a prayer to the Virgin’ (I, 62), and there is the constant presence of friars, abbesses, confessors and priests. However, underlying this belief there is the suspicion of corruptness and hypocrisy and consequently, the impact and respectability of religion is reduced. Despite this conflict of opinions, justice is imposed upon the characters, and the moral message is communicated to the readers. Pedro, the villain in The Festival of St. Jago ‘took the vows, amongst a most rigid order of monks; and Donna Lauretta and himself ended their days in penitent seclusion’ (II, 202). Likewise, Father Francis ‘entered that living grave, the monastery of La Trappe’ (IV, 108).

It has been previously noted that there is a strong cross-referencing between Gothic literature, Shakespearean tragedy, and Milton’s portrayal of ‘The Fall’ in Paradise Lost (1667) (Sage 1990; 18). Macbeth and Hamlet both dramatise the fall of men as a result of their uncontrollable passions, be it jealousy, revenge, or love. These ideas were crucial to Gothic writers. Fellow Minerva Press author Eliza Parsons based The Mysterious Warning (1796) upon the principles of Hamlet, and Radcliffe frequently made references to Shakespeare and Milton in her novels to support her portrayals of the Gothic villain (Sage 1980; 17). It is clear that Green’s work is also heavily influenced by the concerns of Shakespeare’s works as many of her chapters are headed by a quote from Shakespeare or another respected and established ‘classic’ writer. Paradise Lost was significant at this time and Milton’s portrayal of Satan was used as the Gothic prototype for the villainous individuals (Kilgour 1995; 40). Green describes ‘Pedro Velasquez, whose lips are yet trembling with the cruel jaunts he heaps on the afflicted’ (II, 75), and his ‘insulting and demoniac laugh’ (II, 72). Similarly, Father Francis’s appearance alone is enough to frighten others, as ‘rage, malice, revenge and scorn were so strongly depicted’ (I, 174) in his face. Some characters believe ‘he is no better than a sorcerer’ (I, 163) practising in ‘the science of magic’ and ‘the crime of witchcraft’ (I, 164). Within the Gothic castle there are features which also represent the Miltonic influence: ‘He fixed his eyes on a curious device; it was a serpent, with a dreadful sting, twining itself round a crown’ (II, 85). The representations of religion, The Fall and immorality are terrifying and threatening, and beneath the Gothic conventions there is a strong moral issue. The conclusion of The Carthusian Friar illustrates the didactic message of Green, as she ‘rewarded the virtuous, corrected and chastised the wicked’ (IV, 212), providing the reader with literary justice.

The final similarity between Green’s texts is the representation of women. In both texts, women are presented in a number of different ways, thus showing the complexity of the female character. Miles states that the contrast between the female characters reflects the distinction between sentimentalism and materialism, and the ideological tensions of females (1994; 133). The most prominent characterisation is of the vulnerable heroine, who unknowingly evokes an image of beauty and sexual fantasy (Howells 1978; 9) and consequently, they fall victim to the authoritative male figure. Leonora Gusman and Agnes are prime examples of this passive female, and they are both controlled and manipulated by the Gothic villain. They are able to suppress their desires and urges (Yeazell 1991; 5), maintaining their innocent qualities: ‘a deep blush suffused her countenance; and she cast down her eyes’ (The Carthusian Friar I, 140). Ultimately, they are both the ‘finished models of perfection and feminine beauty’ (The Carthusian Friar: I, 127). In contrast to this delicate portrayal of women is the ‘femme fatale’ figure. Green presents Donna Lauretta d’Alzores and Laurentina Albertoni as avaricious and deviant women, who are envious of the ‘modest’ females, be it their beauty, money, social status or their husbands. Lauretta is jealous of Donna Elvira’s money and goes to great lengths to try and obtain some of the Benvoglio family inheritance, including seducing both the Benvoglio brothers, developing a ‘peculiar friendship’ (I, 59) with Antonio, and sharing ‘amorous moments’ (I, 59) with Lopez. Laurentina is jealous of Agnes because she attracted the attentions of St. Marco with her ‘perfect charms’ and ‘female beauty (I, 145). It seems that there are no limits to satisfying both Lauretta’s and Laurentina’s desires, and they are represented as a feminised image of ‘Satan’. The character of Juliette in The Carthusian Friar juxtaposes both of the fore-mentioned depictions, as she is adventurous and rebellious with ‘unbounded vivacity’, and a ‘perfect good humour’ (I, 66-7). She has similar qualities to the typically beautiful heroine, but is both ‘giddy’ and ‘saucy’ (I, 66-7), and subtly cunning. She bravely set out to save Agnes from her captors declaring ‘that there was no time to be lost, and that she must, at all events, set off on her perilous journey alone’ (II, 165), adopting the disguise ‘of a Venetian Jew’ (II, 160). Green uses language to support these characterisations and to reflect their specific attitudes, particularly of the male villains. Howell believes that Gothic uses diction specifically to represent the traditional Gothic villain as described previously (1978; 22).

The development of the Gothic novel is illustrated in the two Gothic texts of Mrs. Sarah Green. She was evidently influenced by her contemporaries and by Gothic conventions. The guidance that she took from other novelist’s works suggests that Green didn’t feel completely confident or relaxed in this style of writing, and she felt the need for guidance from their traditions and themes. However, in comparison, The Carthusian Friar is a much more confident and effective novel than The Festival of St. Jago. It has strong characterisations, powerful themes and imagery, and a clear didactic message is maintained throughout to express to the reader the dominant concerns of Green. This was extremely important to Gothic writers, and the aim of their writing was to create awareness of the social, economic and personal problems that existed in nineteenth century society, especially for women.


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