I decided to write Blog 2 for Blog 7 because I was late for it.
In George Haggerty’s “Queer Gothic”, what I believe he means to have us understand by talking about the “normative… configurations of human interaction…” is the standards and expectations society holds its members to that instantly become the “norm”. These standards and expectations that he mentions are how we, as humans, have contact with each other and how we socialize with each other. One standard that members of society are held to is we are not meant to kill each other, and yet in “Otranto”, murder is a very prominent theme, it is especially challenged by the fact that a lot of the violence happens between family members. Another standard that is challenged in “Otranto” is marriage and what that is meant to mean. Despite Hippolita’s division into Manfred, he continues to commit sins and betray her, such as making efforts to divorce her and marry and impregnate Isabella.
A passage in “The Castle of Otranto” that portrays the characteristic of the incestuous desire of a libidinous male that Haggerty mentions is on page 12, where Manfred declares his plan to marry Isabella. In this passage, Hippolita has sent Isabella to comfort Manfred in the aftermath of the death of Conrad because he refused to see the Princess, herself. When Isabella arrives, she is confronted by Manfred speaking ill of Conrad, claiming that “… “he was a sickly, puny child, and perhaps Heaven has perhaps taken him away, that I might not trust my honours of my house on such a frail foundation.”” and telling her how Conrad was not worthy of her beauty. When Isabella responded with telling Manfred how, despite the loss of her husband-to-be, she will still cherish his memory and regard Hippolita and Manfred as her parents, Manfred demands she no longer mention Hippolita in their conversation. He continuously does this throughout, and goes on to talk about how now that Conrad was gone, Isabella would have a worthy husband, disregarding Isabella saying she is grieving too much at the moment to think about another marriage and would only agree to one if her father asked her to do so. He, then, outright tells her that he is divorcing the Princess and offering himself as Isabella’s husband in place of Conrad because of the loss of his heir and Hippolita’s lack of ability to birth another, to which Isabella is, of course, distraught by and claims his intentions impious and against the Heavens. This shows how Manfred chose to have his would-be daughter-in-law have his children in order to produce an heir that would continue his lineage.
I think the physical features of the castle represent political and sexual entrapments in that, amongst many other examples, the depiction of the women in the castle being unable to leave. Specifically, after the scene described above, Isabella tried to run away from Manfred while he was distracted, however when she got to the end of the flight of stairs, she was halted by the reminder that she couldn’t leave the castle because the gates were locked, and when she continued to make her away through the underground secret tunnels of the castle, there was a point where she became completely hopeless at the idea of escaping.
An example of media that creates these gothic effects is “Gothika”. There is a terrifying and gloomy edge to the film created by the atmosphere, a supernatural aspect, and being trapped inside a building, an asylum, of what I would make to be a modern version of a gothic castle.