Burke's Sublime in Walpole's 'Otranto' and Shelley's 'Frankenstein'

Erica Roth


In this article, the author examines the definition of Sublime as provided by Edmund Burke, and applies Burke's understanding of the term to two novels based in the genre of Gothic literature.  For Edward Burke, author of The Philosophical Enquiry into our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful, he believes the mind reaches a place of intense feeling where imagination and emotional state coalesce to create a uniquely-powerful experience in the mind.  This state of emotion is depicted through various literary devices, including setting, imagery, and charater use, in novels by Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. These two texts become the catalysts for exploring the Sublime as an emotional experience, and, ultimately, prove Edmund Burke's defintion of the Sublime as an intense, emotional effect on the mind true.


Burke, 'Sublime'; Sublime; Shelley, 'Frankenstein'; Walpole, 'Otranto'

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