‘Northanger Abbey’ by Jane Austen: A Review

Author: Jane Austen
Genre: Fiction, Classic, Gothic.
First Published: 1817 (posthumous)
Pages: 187

Jane Austen challenges the role of women in her novel ‘Northanger Abbey.’ Her opening line states that, ‘No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be a heroine.’ But Catherine’s heroic traits differ from the stereotypical ones we often encounter in classic literature…

Catherine lives with her parents and many brothers and sisters in a notably rural life. However, she is offered the chance to accompany her neighbours, the wealthy and elderly Allen couple, on their extended stay in Bath. New to city life, Catherine is initially bored due to the lack of acquaintances to talk to at the glamorous balls and theatre trips. However, one day she  meets the delightful Henry Tilney, whom she instantly falls in love with. After dancing with Henry at a ball, Catherine is eager to see him again, but his disappearance from Bath prevents the meeting she longs for. During Henry’s, Mrs Allen bumps into her old school friend, Mrs Thorpe, who’s eldest daughter, Isabella, immediately befriends Catherine. Continue reading

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‘The Castle of Otranto’ by Horace Walpole: A Review

 

Author: Horace Walpole
Genre: Gothic, mystery, ghost/supernatural
First Published: 1764
Pages: 95

Manfred is lord of the castle of Otranto. The beginning of the book sees the preparations of the wedding between Manfred’s sickly son Conrad, and the princess Isabella. However, as the ceremony is due to begin, Conrad is crushed to death by a gigantic helmet, which echoes the eerie prophecy that “the castle and lordship of Otranto should pass from the present family, whenever the real owner should be grown too large to inhabit it”.

As Conrad was Manfred’s only son, he is now in danger of the lordship slipping from his family name. With no heir, Manfred desperately claims that he will divorce his wife, Hippolita, and marry Isabella himself, so that he can start a new family and produce an heir. Terrified, Isabella flees from the castle to the neighbouring church via a subterranean passage, where she is aided by a peasant named Theodore.  Continue reading

‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker: A Review

Author: Bram Stoker
Genre: Fiction, Classics, Horror, Gothic
First Published: 1897
Pages: 315

‘Dracula’ is a fractured narrative made up of journals, newspaper articles and telegrams, collected as evidence of the existence of vampires. The journey starts as we follow Jonathan Harker into the eerie depths of Transylvania, as he plans to meet Count Dracula, to settle the business of the estates that he has bought in England. After an extended stay at Castle Dracula, Jonathan gradually becomes to realise that all is not as it seems, and he is indeed a prisoner in the castle. One evening he witnesses the Count ‘crawl down the castle wall over the dreadful abyss, face down with his cloak spreading out around him like great wings’ and he comes face to face with three seductive women, who attempt to drink his blood.

We leave Jonathon despairing in the castle, unable to find any means of escape, and meet his fiancée, Mina, in the coastal town of Whitby. She is paying a visit to her friend Lucy, who suffers from sleepwalking. One evening, Mina wakes to find Lucy has disappeared in her state of unconsciousness. Terrified, Mina goes in search of Lucy, and finds her in the church graveyard, with a mysterious figure of a man looming over her. Mina takes Lucy home, but she suffers a fever, and Jack Seward, a friend of Lucy, calls the aid of his friend Dr Abraham Vanhelsing, to see if he can help the patient. Vanhelsing at once realises that Lucy has been bitten by a vampire by the tell-tale make on her neck, and does everything in his power to save her but Dracula’s grip on Lucy is too strong.

Continue reading

Reading List #2

As I have just finished the last book on my first reading list, I have decided to share my next one with you! As my summer holiday is slipping away quickly, I have decided that it is time to tackle my university reading list. In my first semester, I will be doing a Shakespeare module and a Gothic module, but I still want to read some of my own books while I have time! So I have decided that I will read a Shakespeare play, Gothic novel, Shakespeare play, book of choice, Shakespeare play, Gothic novel…etc. So, here are my first ten plays/books to read!

1.Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare

2. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe  GOTHIC 

3. King Richard the Second by William Shakespeare

4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

5.The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

6. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle GOTHIC

7. King Henry the Fifth by William Shakespeare

8. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

9. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

10. Dracula by Bram Stoker GOTHIC

So this should keep me busy for a while! Plus, I still have the reviews from the last two books I read, (Dr Jekyll and Mr Holmes and Elsewhere) so keep an eye out for these! And of course I will be reviewing all of these as soon as I have finished them!

Also, if you haven’t had chance yet but you are interested in doing so, I would appreciate it if you would have a look at the article that I wrote about the Horror Night as part of our local literary festival. Thank you!