“Thus do the scenes of life vary with the predominant passions of mankind, and with the progress of civilization”: The impact of Enlightenment thought on representations of Catholicism and the Medieval in Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto and Ann Radcliffe’s A Sicilian Romance

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“Thus do the scenes of life vary with the predominant passions of mankind, and with the progress of civilization”: The impact of Enlightenment thought on representations of Catholicism and the Medieval in Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto and Ann Radcliffe’s A Sicilian Romance

Type: Bachelor thesis
Title: “Thus do the scenes of life vary with the predominant passions of mankind, and with the progress of civilization”: The impact of Enlightenment thought on representations of Catholicism and the Medieval in Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto and Ann Radcliffe’s A Sicilian Romance
Author: Aaftink, Maria
Issue Date: 2018-06-29
Keywords: Enlightenment thought
Gothic literature
Horace Walpole
Ann Radcliffe
Catholicism
Medieval
Abstract: Using close reading and contextualization in the historical context, this thesis explores the reaction to Enlightenment thought with regards to Catholicism and the Medieval in Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1760) and Ann Radcliffe's A Sicilian Romance (1790). These novels offer different responses to the changing perceptions of Catholicism, history, and the British national identity, both of which are informed by the Enlightenment, but are based on varying views on what the past contributed to the contemporary nation. The Castle of Otranto can be interpreted as a pseudo-medievalist text which places it in a nationalist discourse which emphasized the continuity between the past and the present. This is most obvious in its descriptions of Medieval culture, which are generally positive. A Sicilian Romance emphasizes the differences between the Medieval and Enlightenment cultures. The medieval is only shown in a positive light when its cultural and religious practices are refigured according to Enlightenment thought. While the novels show different reactions to the eighteenth century ideology that informed them, both show suspicion and fascination for the Medieval and the Catholic.
Supervisor: Fikkers, Lotte
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Department: Engelse Taal en Cultuur (Bachelor)
ECTS Credits: 10
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/63663
 

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