2. Tuesday · Mysteries Of Udolpho

Part Six Review Volume 2 Chapter I

the-mysteries-of-udolpho-1-480x480-75 Just the one chapter this week and a fairly short review.

This chapter sees the journey to Italy begin and really very little in the way of character or plot development.

Emily is relegated to a second carriage rather than travelling with her Aunt in order to make room for Cavigni to ride with his friend.  This does enable Valencourt to leap into the road and thrust a letter at her completely unseen, totally ridiculous of course to believe the maid travelling with her would not have noticed or the driver but we must suspend reality at times like this.

The only real character development we see if on a stop in the Italian Alps when Montoni and Cavigni discuss Hannibal, this gives us the opportunity to see that the two male characters do have a degree of learning between them although their discussion is purely academic.  Emily also considers the same subject but from a more emotional angle imagining the feelings of the soldiers as the faced the perilous peaks.  Finally Madame Cheron now Madame Montoni whose thoughts are engaged planning events to rival any of the courts of Europe believing now she has the title of wife she no longer need fear Montoni’s wandering eyes and believe his frugality displayed previously will be overcome by his desire to impress in his home town.

One rather impressive element of this chapter is the way in which Radcliffe avoids repetition, having through herself thoroughly into the Sublime and Picaresque during the previous trip through a mountain landscape she touches on it only briefly using Emily daydreaming of Valencourt superimposed from one landscape to the other, them moves on to briefly describe the Pastoral.  She then hits upon the perfect way to describe these things without long descriptive passages by having Emily write poetry which she then interjects into the text.

For this week I leave them in the Alps and you with a taster of Emily’s poetic exploits


 Ah, merry swain, who laugh'd along the vales,
 And with your gay pipe made the mountains ring,
 Why leave your cot, your woods, and thymy gales,
 And friends belov'd, for aught that wealth can bring?
 He goes to wake o'er moon-light seas the string,
 Venetian gold his untaught fancy hails!
 Yet oft of home his simple carols sing,
 And his steps pause, as the last Alp he scales.
 Once more he turns to view his native scene--
 Far, far below, as roll the clouds away,
 He spies his cabin 'mid the pine-tops green,
 The well-known woods, clear brook, and pastures gay;
 And thinks of friends and parents left behind,
 Of sylvan revels, dance, and festive song;
 And hears the faint reed swelling in the wind;
 And his sad sighs the distant notes prolong!
 Thus went the swain, till mountain-shadows fell,
 And dimm'd the landscape to his aching sight;
 And must he leave the vales he loves so well!
 Can foreign wealth, and shows, his heart delight?
 No, happy vales! your wild rocks still shall hear
 His pipe, light sounding on the morning breeze;
 Still shall he lead the flocks to streamlet clear,
 And watch at eve beneath the western trees.
 Away, Venetian gold--your charm is o'er!
 And now his swift step seeks the lowland bow'rs,
 Where, through the leaves, his cottage light ONCE MORE
 Guides him to happy friends, and jocund hours.
 Ah, merry swain! that laugh along the vales,
 And with your gay pipe make the mountains ring,
 Your cot, your woods, your thymy-scented gales--
 And friends belov'd--more joy than wealth can bring!
Mysteries Of Udolpho · Tuesday Reflections

Part Five Review Volume 1 Chapters XII and XIII


Two chapters read over the last fortnight as they were quite a long ones and quite  important ones as it introduces several new and possibly important characters though time will reveal which are the ones we really need to keep an eye on.

Chapter XII

The chapter is still relatively hard reading with overly complicated paragraphs that an editor with a Sharpie would have a field day with but as the chapter moves along it picks up pace and becomes easier to engage with simply because the subject matter is more interesting.  Simply put when writing about the complexities of human nature Radcliffe strikes a nerve that her depiction of nature misses.

The chapter sees our Heroine Emily’s removal from her family home to her Aunts home although the actual travel happened at the end of the previous chapter this is the real departure for her when she begins to become acquainted with not only her new surroundings but her new situation in fashionable company.  Her aunt Madame Cheron is determined to think the worst of her niece with accusations of inappropriate behaviour and though it may be true Emily acted imprudently receiving Valencourt alone she certainly does not merit the continued accusations in fact it begins to be suggested that she may be judging her niece by her own  imprudent standards.

It was at this point I actually began to dwell on how I thought the characters would appear as there is very little actual description of their persons.  So I decided it would be fun to google and use images from there to illustrate how I think they look, we may as well begin with our heroine…

image28240I am afraid it isn’t very flattering at this point in the story she comes across as a little bit of a wimp, constantly crying, futile in her attempts to defend herself when unjustly accused.  At the minute she make very poor heroine material in terms of the character to which we would ascribe that label to today.

Next up Madame Cheron..

1739_Anna_AmaliaThe phrase mutton dressed as lamb springs to mind as a read more of her, silly, vain and ridiculous.  She very much reminds me of Mrs Bennett in Pride & Prejudice, determined to climb the social ladder by any means necessary her nieces happiness not even a consideration only rank, wealth and position.

The next characters we meet are the two gents Monsieur Montoni and Monsieur Cavigni….

indexI have to be honest this is how I see the in this chapter but I already know my opinion will change later.  At the minute they seem pompous creeps, flattering Madame Cheron’s vanity.  There are rumours of her being courted by Montoni but it would appear he has not settled upon her yet or should that be her wealth and seems to be actively pursuing several options looking for the best financial incentive.  Cavigni seems to act as his friends wing man, ensuring Madame Cheron stays content while Montoni is engaged elsewhere.

Then we have the reappearance of our hero now I have chosen to pictures for Valencourt most of the time this is what we see….

imagesrather ineffectual, moping, and as much of a wet blanket as Emily, perhaps that is why they fall in love so easily.  Of course when he appears Madame Cheron refuses his admittance he is not to be tolerated dismissed as being without wealth or connections worthy of her niece.  Them one evening at an entertainment everything changes.

The host that evening is Madame Clairval…

siftingthepast-u_portrait-of-a-noblewoman_donat-nonotte-1708e280911785_1760Madame Clairval is a widow with a taste for enjoying herself but also in giving pleasure to others and managing to do this with taste.  Madame Cheron unable to compete with the scale and quality of these entertainments seeks to ingratiate herself with the older lady, however she almost blows it all by slandering Valencourt at a dance before discovering that he is Madame Clairval’s nephew and a favourite in her company.

Suddenly he is invited to Madame Cheron’s home and as she formulates the belief he mus inherit from his Aunt she encourages a union between them.  Madame Clairval though not overly impressed by the thought of the union does nothing to prevent it, she too is under the misguided opinion of wealth to come this time that Emily will inherit from her Aunt but the twists to come would change every thing.

Chapter XIII

From the preparations for nuptial bliss to imminent separation in the space of a chapter, in this chapter certain characters begin to show their true colours.  The first thing Emily is informed of is a delay to her wedding and that Madame Cheron will utilise her wedding clothes and decorations for her own union.  Madame Cheron very quickly could be seen to take up the role of wicked stepmother…

l274425579except that would imply she was the motivator when in reality she was a puppet at the hands of the real villain, Monsieur Montoni…

perilsofpaulinetiedtorailwaytracksyes he shows his true colours as the villain we saw glimpses of earlier.  Realising that if the marriage between Emily and Valencourt took place he may lose not only influence over Madame Cheron but also the chances of him getting his hands on her wealth, determined to ensure that he profits fully from the union he breaks the engagement of the two lovers and realising that Emily will no longer inherit Madame Clairval does nothing to oppose the young couples separation.

At times we see a different side to Valencourt…

dolceburb655_2111799aHe seems he may grow a back bone and fight for his lover but at her urging he does nothing other than to mourn their separation and throw a few false accusations of his own suggesting that her refusal to run away and marry him comes from her lack of affection for him.

The chapter ends as Montoni prepares to remove his new bride and her charge to Italy, away from Valencourt and from any friends who might offer them protection.