From The Mysteries of Udolpho, 1.
M. St. Aubert loved to wander, with his wife and daughter, on the margin of the Garonne, and to listen to the music that floated on its waves. He had known life in other forms than those of pastoral simplicity, having mingled in the gay and in the busy scenes of the world; but the flattering portrait of mankind, which his heart had delineated in early youth, his experience had too sorrowfully corrected. Yet, amidst the changing visions of life, his principles remained unshaken, his benevolence unchilled; and he retired from the multitude "more in pity than in anger" to scenes of simple nature, to the pure delights of literature, and to the exercise of domestic virtues.
From The Italian, 8.
Vincentio [Vivaldi] inherited much of the character of his father, and very little of that of his mother. His pride was as noble and generous as that of the Marchese; but he had somewhat of the fiery passions of the Marchesa, without any of her craft, her duplicity, or vindictive thirst for revenge. Frank in his temper, ingenuous in his sentiments, quickly offended, but easily appeased; irritated by any appearance of disrespect, but melted by concession, a high sense of honor rendered him no more jealous of offence, than a delicate humanity made him ready for reconciliation, and anxious to spare the feelings of others.
Men of destructive passion and pride:
From The Monk, 39-40.
[Ambrosio] was no sooner alone, than He gave free loose to the indulgence of his vanity. When He remembered the Enthusiasm which his discourse had excited, his heart swelled with rapture, and his imagination presented him with splendid visions of aggrandizement. He looked round him with exultation, and Pride told him loudly, that he was superior to the rest of his fellow-Creatures.
"Who," thought He; "Who but myself has passed the orderal of Youth, yet sees no single
stain upon his conscience? Who else has subdued the violence of strong passons and an
impetuous temperament, and submitted even from the dawn of life to voluntary retirement? I
seek for such a Man in vain. I see no one but myself possessed of such resolution. Religion
cannot boast Ambrosio's equal! How powerful an effect did my discourse produce upon its
Auditors! How they crowded round me! How they loaded me with benedictions, and
pronounced me the sole uncorrupted Pillar of the Church!"
From Udolpho, 182.
[Montoni's] soul was little susceptible of light pleasures. He delighted in the energies of the passions; the difficulties and tempests of life, which wreck the lives of others, roused and strengthened all the powers of his mind, and afforded him the highest enjoyments, of which his nature was capable...He had, of course, many and bitter enemies; but the rancour of their hatred proved the degree of his power; and as power was his chief aim, he gloried more in such hatred, than it was possible he could in being esteemed. A feeling so tempered as that of esteem, he despised, and would have despised himself also had he thought himself capable of being flattered by it.
Until very recently neither psychological investigation nor literary criticism has described an analogous situation for women. Thus if women (either in real life or in fiction) seem to perceive the world as inhabited by two types of relatively active men one embodying "safe" asexual love and the other embodying "dangerous" sexuality with women playing the part of more or less passive spectators, investigators and commentators have assumed that such is the "real"state of women. At last, however, this strange myopia has begun to be corrected: psychiatrists are beginning to understand that a "Devil/Priest" syndrom exists which is an analogue in women to the "Virgin/Whore" syndrome in men, and that far from revealing women as without sexual passion, such fantasies suggest that women's fantasies are potent; indeed, so powerful that women, like men, often feel the need to handle these "dangerous" feelings by the device of projection...
The pairing of "villain" and "hero" in the eighteenth-century Gothic is quite overt, achieving a kind of Augustan balance. The antagonists play strangely similar roles to the heroine, each embodying one sort of "authority": the demon lover is a figure of considerable power who would exert a malevolent influence; the hero (a considerably less potent figure throughout much of the novel) is a force for order and benevolent control.
Generally the heroine declares her preference for the hero very early in the novel; an obstacle in their union is discovered; and they remain throughout the story pining, faithful (exchanging at best, a chaste kiss) to be rewarded at the very conclusion with the gift of matrimony. These are stories of a courtship interrupted. The demon lover is an intruder, dominating the fiction as its undeniable emotional focus. The heroines are not indifferent to the compelling presence of such men; however, they always react with instinctive aversion.
[There is a] remarkably violent taboo that enshrouds the entire relationship between these eighteenth-century heroines and their demon lovers. Despite the fact that the man is darkly attractive, the woman generally shuns him, shrinking as if from some visible contamination. Too often to be insignificant, this aversion is justified when he eventually proves to be a long-lost relation: an uncle, a step-father, sometimes the biological father himself lusting after the innocent daughter's chastity. This spectre of incest...hangs over the entire tale.
In the solitude of his prison, Valancourt had leisure for reflection, and cause for repentance; here, too, the image of Emily, which, amidst the dissipation of the city had been obscured, but never obliterated from his heart, revived with all the charms of innocence and beauty, to reproach him for having sacrificed his happiness and debased his talents by pursuits, which his nobler faculties would formerly have taught him to consider were as tasteless as they were degrading. (Udolpho, 652)
If Valancourt's passion had been left to pursue its natural course, the chevalier's "nobler faculties" would presumably have become as unresponsive as Montoni's. And without "taste" to principle his behavior, Valancourt's desire for Emily would hardly have remained virtuous. In this lesson, Radcliffe implies that the feminine values of sensibility could socialize masculine energy if there were some sure way to enforce them, if, in other words, there were some authority strong enough to keep masculine energy from becoming Montoni's fatal power.