When I wrote about The Mysteries of Udolpho for the Classics Circuit I did not have the time to give it the week of blogging I easily could have—I would say “the week of blogging it deserved,” but who can make such judgments? But I do want to go back to it this week as I do something of a grab-bag, just to touch on the one subject that interested and intrigued me most.
Much of the conflict in The Mysteries of Udolpho rests on misunderstandings. Radcliffe often uses this fairly easy device to set up Emily St. Aubert for ever more hardship. Here, after her aunt (her guardian) has married Signor Montoni, Emilyi goes into his office to discuss with him the fact that another uncle (M. Quesnel) has let her home to rent without consulting her first, in his capacity as her lawyer:
‘I have just been writing to Mons. Quesnel,’ said he when Emily appeared, ‘in reply to the letter I received from him a few days ago, and I wished to talk to you upon a subject that occupied part of it.’
‘I also wished to speak with you on this topic, sir,’ said Emily.
‘It is a subject of some interest to you, undoubtedly,’ rejoined Montoni, ‘and I think you must see it in the light that I do; indeed it will not bear any other. I trust you will agree with me, that any objection founded on sentiment, as they call it, ought to yield to circumstances of solid advantage.’
‘Granting this, sir,’ replied Emily, modestly, ‘those of humanity ought surely to be attended to. But I fear it is now too late to deliberate upon this plan, and I must regret, that it is no longer in my power to reject it.’
Continue reading No redemption in The Mysteries of Udolpho