The tiresome Godwinistic hero is visited  by a decrepit old man who wishes to tell him on a pledge of incommunicability what will give him the power of endless life and boundless wealth. The impoverished nobleman accepts with consequences less enjoyable than he has anticipated. Events are rather confused here, as the villain falls dead in the presence of the devil but comes to life again as another character later in the story,—Shelley informing us of their identity but not troubling to explain it.
The most impressive instance of the theme of fleshly immortality in the early novels is found in Melmoth. Here the mysterious wanderer possesses the power of endless life, but not the right to lay it down when existence becomes a burden. Melmoth can win the boon of death only if he can find another mortal willing to change destinies with him at the price of his soul. He traverses the world in his search and offers the exchange to persons in direst need and suffering the extreme torments, offering to give them wealth as well as life eternal.
Yet no man nor woman will buy life at the price of the soul. Certain themes appear recurringly as first aids to terror fiction. Some of them are found equally in later literature while others belong more particularly to the Gothic.
An interesting aspect of the supernatural visitants is gigantism, or the superhuman size which they assume. In The Castle of Otranto , the sensational ghost is of enormous size, and his accouterments are colossal.
In the last scene he is astounding:. A clap of thunder shook the castle to its foundations; the earth rocked and the clank of more than mortal armor was heard behind The walls of the castle behind Manfred were thrown down with a mighty force, and the form of Alfonso, dilated to an immense magnitude, appeared in the center of the ruins.
This reminds one of an incident in F. Isaacs , where the Indian magician expands to awful size, miraculously draws down a mist and wraps it round him as a cloak. In most cases gigantism connotes evil power and rouses a supernatural awe in the beholder. The giant is an Oriental figure and appears in Vathek , along with genii, dwarfs, and kindred personages, but the Gothic giant has more diabolism than the mere Oriental original.
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He seems to fade out from fiction, appearing only occasionally in later stories, while he has practically no place in the drama, owing doubtless to the difficulties of stage presentation. Insanity as contributing to the effect of supernaturalism affords many gruesome studies in psychiatry. Madness seems a special curse of the gods or torment from the devil and various instances of its use occur in Gothic fiction.
When he awakes to the realization of what he has done, real madness drives him to suicide. In The Castle of Caithness the wicked misanthrope goes mad from remorse. He imagines that the different ones he has murdered are hurling him into the pit of hell, until, in a maniac frenzy, he dashes his brains out against the prison walls. Melmoth uses the idea with special effectiveness.
Maturin also shows us a scene in a mad-house, where a sane man, Stanton, is confined, whom Melmoth visits to offer exchange of destinies. Melmoth taunts him cruelly with his hopeless situation and prophecies that he, too, will go mad from despair. At her appalling shrieks all other voices are hushed. Another impressive figure in the mad-house is the preacher who thinks himself a demon and alternately prays and blasphemes the Lord. Charles Brockden Brown rivals Maturin in his terrible use of insanity for supernatural effect.
The demented  murderer in Edgar Huntley gives an impression of mystery and awe that is unusual, while Wieland with its religious mania produced by diabolic ventriloquism is even more impressive. Brown knew the effect of mystery and dread on the human mind and by slow, cumulative suggestion he makes us feel a creeping awe that the unwieldy machinery of pure Gothicism never could achieve. In studies of the morbid mentality he has few equals.
What are the rackings of monkish vindictiveness when set against the agonies of an unbalanced mind turned in upon itself? Such a tragedy of dethroned reason is intolerably powerful; the dark labyrinths of insanity, the gloom-haunted passages of the human mind, are more terrible to traverse than the midnight windings of Gothic dungeons. We feel that here is a man who is real, who is human, and suffering the extremity of anguish. Perhaps the most hideous aspect of insanity in the terror novel is that of the lycanthrope in The Albigenses. The tragic wolf-man imagines himself to be a mad wolf and cowers in his lair, glaring with gleaming, awful eyes at all who approach him, gnawing at a human head snatched from the graveyard.
There are various other uses of insanity in the novel of the period, but these will serve to illustrate. The relation between insanity and the supernatural has been marked in later literature. The use of portents is a distinct characteristic of the horror romance. Calamity is generally preceded by some  sign of the supernatural influence at work, some presentment of dread. Crime and catastrophe are forefelt by premonition of woe and accompaniment of horror.
These phenomena are miraculous; when the common laws of nature are violated, the awful portents are not sent in vain. This night an awful messenger sent from that dread tribunal from whose power there is no appeal, by signs terrific foretold my fate approached—foretold my final moment. She keeps her appointment promptly. In The Spirit of the Castle ,  the ghost of the old marquis knocks three times on the door preceding the arrival of the heir, and a black raven flies away as he enters.
If these omens be from heaven or hell, Manfred trusts to righteousness to protect his cause. There is much use of portent in Melmoth. Mysterious strains of music sound as heralds of disaster in several Gothic novels, as  where the inexplicable strains are heard only by the bride and groom preceding the strange tragedy that befalls them.
At the approach of a supernatural visitant in the terror novel the fire always burns blue,—where there is a fire, and the great hearth usually affords ample opportunity for such portentous blaze. The thermometer itself tends to take a downward path when a ghost draws near. Various other portents of ill appear in Gothic fiction. The symbols of dread and the ghostly are used to good effect in the terror romance. The cumulative effects of supernatural awe are carefully built up by the use of gruesome accompaniments and suggestions. The triple veil of night, desolation, and silence usually hangs over the haunter and the haunted, predisposing to an uncanny psychosis.
The Gothic ghost does not love the garish day, and the terror castle, gloomy even under the brightest sun, is of unimaginable darkness at night. Certain houses add especially to the impression of fear. In addition to its services as time-keeper, the bell has a predisposition to toll. Melancholy birds fly freely through these medieval tales, their dark wings adding to the general gloom. In St. Oswyth as the wicked baron lies quaking in remorse for having caused a nun to be buried alive, the condemning cry of the doleful birds increases his mental anguish. Similar instances, with or without special nomenclature, occur in countless Gothic novels.
Much use is also made of the dark ivy in its clambering over medieval architecture, shutting out the light and adding to the general gloom.
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The effect of horror is increased frequently by the location of the scenes in vaults and graveyards with all their gruesome accessories, and skulls are used as mural ornaments elsewhere, or as library appointments by persons of morbid temperament. Enough skeletons are exhumed to furnish as large a pile of bones as may be seen in certain antique churches in Italy and Mexico.
The element of mystery and mystification is another family feature of the novel of suspense. There is no proper thrill without the suspense attained by supernatural mystery. Even the novels that in the end carefully explain away all the ghostly phenomena on a natural basis strive with care to build up plots which shall contain astounding discoveries. Radcliffe and Regina Maria Roche are noted in this respect. They have not the courage of their ghosts as such but, after they have thrilled the reader to the desired extent, they tear down the fabric of mystification that they have constructed and meticulously explain everything.
The black veil constitutes a favorite method of suspense with Mrs. On various occasions Emily pales  and quivers before a dark velvet pall uncannily swaying in the midnight wind, and on one such ramble she draws aside the curtain and finds a hideous corpse, putrid and dropping to decay, lying on a couch behind the pall. Many chapters further on she learns that this is a wax figure made to serve as penance for an ancient sinner.
Again she shivers in front of the inky curtain, watching its fold move unaccountably, when a repulsive face peers out at her.
She shrieks and flees, thinking she has seen a ghost, but discovers later that it is only one of a company of bandits that have taken up their secret abode in the house. Black veils are in fashion in all of Mrs. Mysterious manuscripts are another means of mystification. Mysterious manuscripts are not strong on grammar and make slight attempt to avoid mixed figures. I will expire by the side of the clay-cold corpse of my Antoinette.
Reference to dread secrets occur otherwise than in written form. You would be ready to forego the ties of nature and shun society. Time must, it will develop the whole of this mystery!
Inexplicable music forms one of the commonest elements of mystification in these romances. Its constant recurrence suggests that there must have been victrolas in medieval times. The music is chiefly instrumental, sometimes on a harp, sometimes on a violin, though occasionally it is vocal. The appearance of the devil masquerading as the Moor  is heralded by flute-like sounds, and in The Spirit of Turrettville the specter plays on the harp and sings.