The Mysteries of Udolpho
Ann Radcliffe

Volume 3

Chapter 1

The opening set of lines prepares us for some mysterious happening. I'm coming to distrust Barnardine more and more, and to suspect either abduction or murder. P. 342 shows Emily still to be combating her emotional responses with her Augustan reason -

"she was inclined to consider these suspicions as the extravagant exaggerations of a timid and harassed mind... She blamed herself for allowing her romantic imagination to carry her so far beyond the bounds of probability, and determined to endeavour to check its rapid flights, lest they should sometimes extend into madness."

This clearly shows the danger perceived to lie behind unrestrained imagination.

There follows a long passage in which Emily meets Barnardine, and in which the reader is put in the position of sharing her ignorance and consequently her tension and anxiety. Radcliffe makes us live this experience with Emily, so coming close to her feelings of terror.

The descriptions of the building, of Barnardine and of the weather are all classically Gothic and contribute towards the generation of tension and fear. The attempted abduction, too, is what one would expect in a Gothic novel. Tick it off on your Gothic check list.

Emily sees another horrific sight in this chapter - really a corpse this time - and is convinced Madame Montoni is dead. Perhaps the reader should be too, but I'm getting so used to Radcliffe feeding me false information then backing down and saying that she never actually said it in the first place, that I don't trust her; at no point does Emily say, unambiguously, that the corpse is Madame Montoni's. She just assumes it, and I think we're meant to as well, but I trust no-one (well, X Files is 20th century Gothic).

This chapter ends with poor Emily's reason collapsing under the weight of events, and the last few paragraphs emphasise the utter isolation and unprotectedness of our heroine.

Chapter 2

Emily wakes up with reason restored. It becomes clear that E. is convinced the corpse belonged to Madame Montoni. It is revealed that the attempted abduction was another effort by Morano to gain Emily.

On page 356 a mystery figure appears, and is presented using language suggestive of the supernatural, eg. "something like a human form", "glide down the rampart" "Who, or what it could be that haunted this lonely hour". Indeed, E. suspects "that she had witnessed a supernatural occurrence" though "When her spirits recovered composure, she looked around for some other explanation."

Chapter 3

The opening verse from Milton seems very Graveyard poets inspired doesn't it? We learn what all the fortification has been about; Motoni has become the leader of a band of Condottieri, a cross between robbers and mercenaries.

Emily finds that Madame Montoni is still alive, but dying. This is another e.g. of how Radcliffe misleads us, leading us up to highpoints of tension which then fall into anti climax.

On page 367 we find a rare e.g. of the landscape contrasting with rather than reflecting Emily's state of mind. At this point she sees once more, and is beckoned by the mystery figure, which the sentinels believe to be a ghost. Though she tries to be Augustan,

"her imagination was inflamed, while her judgement was not enlightened, and the terrors of superstition again pervaded her mind." (p.371)

Chapter 4

Though Madame is dying, Montoni continues to harass her about the property she will not sign away.

More possibly supernatural stuff happens, with these mysterious lights appearing on the points of the lances carried by the guards.

At the end of this chapter there is a storm, and Madame Montoni finally dies. We're so busy associating the storm, symbolically, with the death, we probably fail to connect it with the flashing lances. That, at least, is what I think Radcliffe has planned.

Chapter 5

This chapter begins with more Graveyard poetry. There is a very good analysis of the central, graveyard part of the chapter in Love, Misery and Mystery; Feeling in Gothic Fiction by Coral Ann Howells which I recommend that you read. Look hard at the vocabulary and Gothic "props" utilised in this burial scene. I am convinced that Radcliffe is trying to generate sublime terror here by this close contemplation of horrible death.

Montoni tries to trick Emily into signing away her inheritance. When he fails he resorts to threats, and his language becomes entertainingly melodramatic; "You speak like a heroine... we shall see whether you can suffer like one."

When Signora Livona, whom we remember from Venice, arrives, we may hold out hopes of escape for Emily. This is not to be. During one of Emily's nocturnal rambles round Udolpho, she is accosted by a man by whom she feels threatened. She suspects that this is part of Montoni's punishment of her, and feels that she may have to sign the papers "to preserve her life, perhaps her honour".

At this point of fear and susceptibility she hears the music again, the same song as played by the mysterious bracelet stealing lute player. Her conclusion that it must be Valancourt is entirely without foundation, but there is a certain amount of psychological realism here; Valancourt's presence is what she most wishes, and this is the time she feels most in need of him. Radcliffe presents to us all the arguments against it being Valancourt, but I think that we go along with Emily's conviction because we are so used now to sharing her experiences, and we want him to be there too.

Chapter 6

We learn that the fine ladies who came to the castle were not respectable matrons by a long chalk. We might wonder what point is being made by Radcliffe by turning the sympathetic Signora Livona into a whore; maybe it's just more decontextualisation, another rug being pulled from under Emily's feet.

Montoni tries again to threaten Emily into signing over her inheritance, but the same mysterious voice that we previously encountered interrupts him in mid intimidation. There seems to be no rational explanation.

Emily is now at the point of looking into escape plans. Montoni has other plans however, and is preparing to remove her to a place of safety. Since her safety has never seemed high on his list of priorities, both we and she assume that he has a darker purpose. During the journey, Emily comes to fear that she is being escorted by murderers to a suitably obscure place for her body to be undiscovered. The journey is long (Unnecessarily so, in my opinion!)

During it we see Emily to be so decontextualised that she feels she is losing her sanity; "there were moments, when she could almost have believed herself the victim of frightful visions, glaring upon a disordered fancy."

Also in this chapter we get another storm and, surprise, more flickering lance tips. Aha, a rational explanation for a seemingly supernatural occurrence. Maybe it is because we are now out of the walls of Udolpho that reason is able to begin to re-establish itself. Certainly Udolpho is presented as the place where reason finds it hardest to conquer, as it is so far removed from the outside world and the rules which govern it.

The journey ends at a peasants cottage where Emily eats... fruit.

Chapter 7

Emily makes friends with the peasant's daughter. Again Radcliffe shows her idealistic notions about country life; how could Emily possibly have her own room in a rural peasant cottage?

Unfortunately she uses the solitude it provides to write a poem, but don't worry about it. At the end of the chapter she recalls that the papers about the inheritance are still hidden at Udolpho.

Chapter 8

Meanwhile, back in Venice, Montoni has set Morano up and had him arrested, so Emily is now safe from him. A bit of security begins to return for her...but not much, because Montoni brings her back to Udolpho. On the way back they pass lots of bodies and scenes of death. Once in, Emily has to find her way to her room, but Verezzi and Bertolini have discovered that she's back and are tired of waiting, so have gone to seek her out. We can only guess for what purpose... She is chased through corridors, hides in dark corners and does lots of other such exciting and heroinely things. Fortunately Bertolini's lamp expires at a crucial moment - don't they always - saving her. She keeps seeing lights glimmering under doors, and we wonder what these are, but E. is too scared to look. She eventually finds Annette and they go to A's room, since Verezzi and Bertolini are headed for E's. A. tells E. what has been going on in her absence, and E. asks A. to see if Ludovico would help her escape. She also asks him to check up on whether Valancourt is a prisoner in the castle. next morning she signs away her inheritance to Montoni on the understanding that he will let her go; guess what? He doesn't. How very, characteristically, villainous of him.

Emily hears the music again, and becomes even more convinced it is Valancourt. It's the fishing house song, and her own name is clearly mentioned. Look at page 439 and see how Radcliffe makes us share that belief whilst stating that it is most unlikely to be Valancourt. It's clever stuff.

Chapter 9

This opens with a verse about the coming of Spring to Lapland. It's a metaphor for the coming of hope back into Emily's despairing life. Suspense is generated by the passing of four days passing before Ludovico can see the prisoner. Said prisoner does know Emily, and gives L. to return to her the stolen miniature from the fishing house. We've already decided that the thief was V., so is this not proof positive?

Another week passes before a meeting can be arranged, but eventually E. rushes to the arms of... someone she's never seen before! It wasn't Valancourt at the fishing house at all, it was this chap Monsieur Du Pont. Nonetheless, though disappointed in love, he pledges to protect and honour E. Just as he is doing this, Verezzi appears and takes it amiss. They fight. Verezzi falls, and E. A. L. and Du Pont make their escape into the outside world. They escape on horseback by moonlight.

They discover they have no money, so cannot afford food or lodgings. When, by a ridiculous plot device they find some cash, E. spends it on...a hat! It seems that this is vital. Don't ask me why. It's probably to do with morality and propriety.

Travelling during the day they find plentiful supplies of "wild grapes, raspberries and figs" by the wayside. No cream though.

Du Pont tells Emily how he came to be a prisoner, and we find out the truth about the mysterious accusing voice in Montoni's council chamber. Du Pont had found a secret passage - all good Gothic locations have them - and it was him repeating the words of Montoni. This, then, is the rational explanation for that particular " supernatural" occurrence.

E. decides to go back to the convent till the let of La Vallee expires. Du Pont, who is a good chap, looks after her and gets her a boat to France. She writes a poem about shipwreck. If only...

Chapter 10

This tells us of the man who now owns the Villeroi estate. We almost seem to have a secondary set of stock characters here, with Blanche (!) the innocent sub-heroine who is sent off to a convent ; the careless step-mother who

"had neither sufficient ability, or inclination, to superintend the education of her daughter-in law"

and who is jealous of Blanche's beauty; her sophisticated, worldly friend; we have a potential hero in Henri. Their arrival at the chateau is described, which gives Radcliffe the opportunity of describing the place to the reader.

Chapter 11

Blanche is clearly of the Wordsworthian school of thought about nature;

"God is best pleased with the homage of a grateful heart, and, when we view his glories, we feel most grateful."

It is with sorrow that I have to tell you that Blanche, too, writes what she would probably describe as poetry. I wouldn't. The new Countess would rather hear read a sentimental novel than admire the mountains, which tells us more than we need to know about her.

Blanche explores the chateau as she should, finds all the right kind of narrow staircases and dusky passages, gets suitably lost and is frightened by the housekeeper. This is all very well, but tedious as we've already been through it once with Emily. If I were Radcliffe's editor I'd be generous with the red pen here.

Anyway, the group have a picnic on a beach reached by boat. It is within sound of the convent, and as twilight falls they hear the chanting of the friars. It also becomes clear that a storm is brewing. I needn't remind you of the frequent link between storms and decisive events - but I will anyway. They don't manage to reach home but have to take shelter at the monastery, but then it becomes clear that there is another boat pout in the storm. Now I wonder who could be in that. Yes indeed, it's Emily etc. What's more, it turns out that Du Pont is an old friend of the Count. Here we have the kind of ridiculous plotting that is not uncommon in Gothic fiction and its relative the Sentimental novel. So now E. is safe, and can have a friend and confidante in Blanche. Heroines need confidantes in this kind of novel, to whom they can pour out all the burdens of their heavy hearts for the benefit of the reader.

Chapter 12

The Count, with his warnings against first impressions but his appreciation of generosity, could be St. Aubert all over again. We now are sure that E. is in good hands, with this kind of Augustan protector.

E. & B. explore, and get Dorothee to talk about the history of the place. The idea of ghosts, and the mysterious music is raised. Remember that we are back on La Voisin's turf. Dorothee comments on the likeness between the late Marchioness and E. Remember that St. A. seemed to have fond memories of the late Marchioness, of which some of you have suspicions.

E. writes asking the Abbess to let her lodge in the convent, and visits La Voisin. She receives a letter from Quesnel which does nothing to put her mind at rest about Theresa and indicates that it won't be possible for her to go back to La Vallee even when the let expires. He recommends that she stay in the convent. Kind uncle! She has written to Valancourt and is awaiting his reply.

Chapter 13

Though now living at the convent, E. goes for another stay with Blanche, and confides her money troubles to the Count who promises to investigate. She is missing Valancourt. One day she is sighing over his letters when Dorothee comes in and sees the miniature which St. A. had cried over. D. gets highly excited, saying that this is the portrait of the late Marchioness. D. promises to tell E. the whole Marchioness story at a later time. This is a device to generate suspense in the reader.

That evening E. goes for a walk in the grounds and bumps into...Valancourt. This would happen just as our minds are elsewhere, to generate more of a shock. She tells him everything that has happened and he keeps insisting that he is unworthy of her. The Count doesn't seem too pleased to see him. Next day he tells E. his reasons; V. has been gambling heavily, has been in debtors prison and has been bought out by a Parisian Countess with whom, rumour has it, he has since been shacked up (to use the technical terminology!). Emily faints - well, it's been a long time since she did that. We read on page 509 that

"when she attempted to think, her mind refused control"

. She knows that, much as she loves him, there is no way forward for them now. Poor E. All that time in Udolpho pining for a louse! This is where the volume ends.