Romance of the Forest

Romance of the Forest
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  Lee 1 Stacy Lee Peter Weise English 3 –  Section 8 19 March 2012 Adeline’s Desire  Research Paper Passion and love are central themes in Ann Radcliffe’s The Romance of the Forest, in which the character’s expressions and actions evolve as they fantasize and desire for one another. While desire plays a major role in this Gothic novel, love and intimacy are driven by hysteria. Adeline and Theodore have an undeniable love for each other, but were Adeline’s dramatic feelings for Theodore necessary and justified? Gothic texts find a way to cross social boundaries in exploring new extremes of feelings through the representation of scenes and events well beyond the range of normal experience. Upon meeting Theodore for the first time, Adeline feels an instant attraction to him. The way Theodore and Adeline looked upon each other was a love at first sight moment: “He [Theodore] was of a person, in which elegance was happily blended with strength, an d had a countenance animated, but not haughty; noble, yet expressive of peculiar sweetness. What rendered it at present more interesting, was the compassion he seemed to feel for Adeline… On perceiving him, a blush of quick surprise passed over her [Adeline] cheek” (87). It seems almost unrealistic how they fall in love immediately, which exhibits the extremity of how unorthodox this Gothic novel represents true love. They only met a few times, yet Theodore and Adeline could already feel a love for one another. It is sensible that  Lee 2 her analysis of him is based solely on his appearance and his ideas. Adeline’s strong feelings for Theodore then allowed her to seek out his company exclusively. When Theodore leaves Adeline, her feelings are dramatized as her heart drops: “The image of Theodore pursued her to her chamber; she recollected with exactness every particular of his late conversation — his sentiments so congenial with her own — his manners so engaging — his countenance so animated — so ingenuous and so noble, in which manly dignity was blended with the sweetness of benevolence — these, and every other grace, she recollected, and a soft melancholy stole upon her heart. ‘ I shall see him no more,’ said she. A sigh, that followed, told her more of her heart than she wished to know’ (95). Adeline’s melancholic nature as Theodore leaves causes the audience to wonder why she feels so dejected. Is it merely because Theodore left, or is it something more? It figuratively kills Adeline to see Theodore part, and the relationship between death and love comes to mind. The intense emotions that Adeline feels for Theodore are quite extreme, as she thinks that she will never see him again. How Theodore kills her is colloquial because it brings her great pain. It is almost as if she is mourning him. Adeline is greatly sensitive towards Theodore’s love even though they barely know each other. It does not come to a surprise when Adeline agrees to meet Theodore alone in a remote part of the forest the ne xt day. He expresses a concern for Adeline’s safety and impresses upon her a need to meet him secretly. Radcliffe intends for Theodore to be Adeline’s true love, so it seems reasonable that Adeline makes that promise to him. However, if the situation was examined critically, the promise to meet a nearly unknown man alone in a forest could possibly be purely sexual, however Adeline is too naïve to see clearly. When she appears to their rendezvous, Theodore is absent. She is offended and  Lee 3 perplexed, but resolves to wait for him. It is only then when she realizes that she was too trusting: “… she blushed for what she termed this childish effervescence of self  - love” (107).  She initially reminisces about how Theodore just wanted to protect her, and was offended that he did not show up. However, her resentment evolved into forgiveness and worry. Rather than being angry, she chose to question why he had not shown up: “Why did he trouble himself to come from the chateau, on purpose to hint her danger, if he did not wish to preserve her? And if he wished to preserve her, what but necessity could have withheld him from the appointment? (107). She decides to wait for him and shows up the following day hoping to meet him. The extremities of Adeline’s feelings for Theodore are quite evident, and it is strange to comprehend how she could care so much about him. Adeline and Theodore trust in one another’s expressed love, even though they have had few actual meetings. She trusts his promises even though she has met him three times and has yet to have a tangible conversation with him –   “ ’Fear nothing, lovely, Adeline,’ said he, ‘fear nothing: you are in the arms of a friends, who will encounter any hazard for your sake who will protect you with his life.’ He pressed her gently to his heart” (167). As tempting it is to want to believe those statements and believe that type of love could happen, realistically, it is almost impossible. The simple words they exchange with one another shows how they have already solidified or justified their relationship. Innocent Adeline falling in love with the mysterious Theodore is exactly how Radcliffe dramatizes love between two people as the perfect cliché. Their love is tested once again when Theodore is imprisoned and Adeline feels personal anxieties and desires in a psychological and physical way. The theme of imprisonment, either in physical or psychological form, fulfills the expectations that  Lee 4 absence makes the heart grow fonder. Adeline imagines Theodore in danger and is mildly entertained that he is gone. It allows her to evoke all her feelings because his disappearing threatens her , “Theodore’s present danger, together with the attendant circumstances, awakened all her tenderness, and discovered to her the true state of her affections. The graceful form, the noble, intelligent countenance, and the engaging manners which she had at first admired Theodore, became afterwards more interesting by that strength of thought, … the danger which he had now encountered in her behalf, called forth her tenderness, and heightened it into love” (178). She explains that her true feelings are unmasked, and she is experiencing genuine emotions towards Theodore for the first time. When he is absent, Adeline feels more love towards him. When he is put in danger, Adeline worries and her emotions are put to a test as to how much she loves him. Elisabeth Br onfen explains that Adeline’s strong feelings are driven from her past traumatic events. Those traumatic events were a type of hysteria as Adeline remembers, and it causes her to react differently and extravagantly when events reoccur. Janice Haaken employs her ideas as to why traumatic experiences scar people and cause emotional numbing, but concludes that only fragments of memory are recovered after traumatic events. Tamar Heller restates Rhoda Broughton’s idea that female desire is only natural, and you cannot blame sensationalism for influencing females to desire others. What are the causes of Adeline’s drives, her desire, and her fantasies?  The obstacles for Adeline and Theodore to come together in romantic love, for instance, reflects the difficulties of contemporary young women who were mostly married by their parents wishes and not their own.  Lee 5 In Bronfen’s article it s assumed that fantasies evolve in dreams, whereas she argues that hysteria is a disorder of imagination. Adeline does not seem satisfied with what she has, so she makes it her goal to fulfill her desires. As she copes with her trauma, which srcinated by the loss of her parents, she starts to reconstruct her heritage. Adeline’s primal desires seem to be her lost parents, a reliable object of desire, and a home. The La Mottes act as her guardians, as they take care of her. She has found a place where she could call home. That left an object of desire, which was filled by Theodore. The Gothic novel emphasizes that hysterical desire and Adeli ne’s lost mind create fantasies, which causes Adeline to chase after her desires. However, Bronfen leaches off Freud’s psychological ideas that unconscious fantasies transform into the conscious, which leads to desires. Freud also argues that people are never in control based on the unconscious, which causes an uncertainty to how people really act in their conscious states. Adeline’s unconscious memories evolve into her hysteria and convincing desire for Theodore, whom she feels strong feelings toward, even though she has just met him. Janice Haaken explains that trauma creates flashbacks and emotional numbness, and that women are able to recognize the role of fantasy in mental life. As desire fills up and individual’s mind with wild fantasies, the higher th e risk runs if the fantasies are not satisfied. Fantasies are like a wish waiting to be fulfilled, but as they evolve and become over-luxuriant, they can cause an individual to go mental if the dreams are never fulfilled. Adeline had lost her parents, which caused her emotional pain, therefore fueling her desire for parental figures. That could have allowed her to react more intensely to other protective figures , such as Theodore. Adeline attempts to rebuild her family’s history helps
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