PDF The Castle Spectre - a drama in five acts

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In The Spotlight. Shop Our Brands. All Rights Reserved. Many judged it a blasphemy to represent the spiritual world, and thought it was scandalous to combine the solemnity of the drama with special effects.

Although theatrical managers tried to persuade Lewis to give up his project, he went ahead with it and, after its first performance, accusations raged against his play. But Lewis also knew that other sections of the public would appreciate his work and, indeed, enthusiastical comments abounded.

Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775-1818) — Works

As a playwright, Lewis was well aware that the numbers of spectators interested in the theatre was increasing enormously, and that many of them were simple workers with a simple desire for relief. Thus he adapted the forms of legitimate drama to these new demands, providing fantastic and shocking effects.

The castle spectre, a drama

Cox, ed. First of all, the presence of the ghost is central in this passage. This is the second time it has appeared in the play, and now its role is crucial. Lewis could have concluded his work in a more traditional way, with the heartless villain killed by the brave hero.

Instead, he decided to introduce this unexpected scene. For, before his Castle Spectre, the ghost which had crossed the stage were intangible figures, half-hidden in dark corners, while, on the contrary, Lewis accompanied his apparition with music and lights, and gave it an active, crucial role. Undoubtedly, the decision to offer his public an unexpected Gothic frisson determined the enormous success and the bitter criticism that accompanied the countless performances of the play.

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By the same token, he also intended to strenghten the distinctive features of one of the recurrent Gothic figures, the villain. Lewis exploited this unusual figure to introduce something new and surprising in his play, but also to underline the demoniac instincts of the villain. In order to discuss the figure of Osmond as the traditional Gothic villain, full of rage and revenge against everyone, it is important to compare his behaviour and that of the heroine, Angela. Angela is the perfect heroine, who reacts to her sorrows thanks to her courage, and whose purity leads her to forgive the man who has tormented her for so long.

Another similar comparison may be that between Osmond and Percy.


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The latter is the hero in love with Angela and, as with any other traditional hero, he is ready to risk life and limb to save his beloved. He recovers his freedom only thanks to the comic and humble Motley. Moreover, in the final scene, he arrives only when Angela has already stabbed Osmond: thus he can do nothing but embrace her. The result is that he is more similar to a comic character than a traditional hero. It is also important to analyze the possible ideological meanings of The Castle Spectre, which may throw light on the ideological import of many other Gothic dramas.

Probably this is also why conservative intellectuals and critics attacked The Castle Spectre and its tendency to subvert the estabilished order of things. As for the linguistic and physical codes, the final passage presents three distinct semantic fields. These words perfectly show the animated and difficult condition of Osmond and Hassan, who are obliged to hasten because they have discovered that Percy and his men have entered the castle.

Osmond, who has never feared anyone and has always faced his sufferings with great courage, even asks his servant to help him. What form is this?