The Gothic puts us into touch with the uncanny, the parts of ourselves or our world that we don't want to see. For this reason, it is associated with what Freud called the return of the repressed, the places where unpleasant realities we have hidden away in our unconscious minds resurface. Awareness of death is one of the key realities we repress, and exploration of death is a key element of the Gothic.
Breath is associated with life, but in this story it becomes an eery, Gothic element associated with dying. Beatrice's death is poisonous rather than life giving. Giovanni has a difficult time understanding how the beautiful, young Beatrice, who seems in the bloom of life, can be the agent of the death she seems to bring, such as that of the beautiful insect:
it grew faint and fell at her feet;—its bright wings shivered; it was dead—from no cause that he could discern, unless it were the atmosphere of her breath.
Beatrice can be seen as a symbol of the contagion and disease we don't like...
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