Literature / The Mysteries of Udolpho
A late eighteenth century Gothic Novel
by Ann Radcliffe. The young heroine Emily St. Aubert's mother and father die, leaving her in possession of a mysterious family secret. After their death she is left in the care of her gold-digging aunt Madame Cheron, who marries the rich, malevolent Magnificent Bastard
Count Montoni. When Emily discovers that Count Montoni is not only a murderer but the leader of an entire bandit army, his castle begins to take on a sinister, almost supernatural presence. Emily spends much of the book panicking and waiting for her fiancÚ Valancourt to rescue her. In true Gothic romance fashion, duels, battles, and mysterious images and sounds out of nowhere abound.
While much parodied and lambasted for its extravagant, overdramatic writing style (see Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey
), Mysteries of Udolpho
remains one of the seminal works of Gothic literature and is the basis for nearly all Gothic fiction written afterwards.
Tropes featured in Mysteries of Udolpho include:
- The Aloner: Emily for much/most of the book.
- Anti-Climax: Seven hundred pages of buildup about what could be behind that sinister Black Veil, and it turns out to be a figure of painted wax, placed as a memento mori to keep a past lord of the house humble. Surely that was a let-down even for innocent young ladies of Regency England.
- Axe-Crazy: Montoni. Good God, Montoni.
- Badass Army: Count Montoni's mercenary army.
- Beta Couple: Annette and Ludovico
- Book Worm: Emily and her father.
- Cultured Warrior: Valancourt, Morano and Montoni. Radcliffe loves this trope.
- Deus ex Machina: EVERYWHERE.
- Elite Mooks: Montoni's higher-ranking bandits.
- Fainting: Emily. Let's just say it would very dangerous to make a Drinking Game out of her fainting fits.
- Gold Digger: Madame Cheron. It doesn't work out too well.
- Heroic Wannabe: Morano.
- I Lied: Montoni after he extorts Emily's property away from her.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Emily
- The Ingenue: Emily again.
- Locked Room Mystery: Ludovico disappears from one.
- Love at First Sight: Valencourt falls in love with Emily pretty much as soon as he meets her.
- Luke, I Am Your Father
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Emily is far more mature and sensible than the more emotion driven, potentially unstable Valencourt.
- Misanthrope Supreme: You guessed it... Montoni
- Mysterious Protector: Valancourt and Morano. Granted the first never actually seems to do much of anything...
- Na´ve Newcomer: Emily, and Cheron
- Officer and a Gentleman: Valancourt
- Parental Abandonment: Both of Emily's parents die relatively early in the story, leaving her in the hands of her Gold Digger aunt and Evil Uncle.
- Pride Before a Fall: Count Montoni
- Private Military Contractors: Montoni's bandits double as mercenaries
- Rich Bitch: Madame Cheron and the Countess.
- "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Started the trend of having the supernatural events in Gothic novels eventually turn out to have rational explanations, especially, as is the case here, humans using it to hide something.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Montoni
- Secret Keeper: Emily, Valancourt, and Montoni.
- Servile Snarker: Annette
- Stalker with a Crush: Morano
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Emily and Valancourt
- ▄bermensch: Montoni
- War Is Hell