Quotes

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 437

After an accurate scrutiny, by the tribunal of the circle, he has been declared author of the murder: but what renders the case truly extraordinary is, that there are good reasons for believing that the deed was perpetrated by the youth while asleep, and was entirely unknown to himself.

This...

(The entire section contains 437 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

After an accurate scrutiny, by the tribunal of the circle, he has been declared author of the murder: but what renders the case truly extraordinary is, that there are good reasons for believing that the deed was perpetrated by the youth while asleep, and was entirely unknown to himself.

This excerpt from the "Vienna Gazette" frames and makes sense of the first person narrative that follows, told by the supposed murderer, Althorpe. This is a journey into the uncanny, the dark reaches of the unconscious and the psyche. Could Althorpe have split into himself and a doppelganger or twin self, as, much later, happens in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and murdered Constantia rather than give her up to a rival?

The shock that it produced in me was, to my own apprehension, a subject of surprise. I could not help perceiving that it was greater than the occasion would justify. The pleasures of this intercourse were, in a moment, to be ravished from me. I was to part from my new friend, and when we should again meet it was impossible to foresee. It was then that I recollected her expressions, that assured me that her choice was fixed upon another. If I saw her again, it would probably be as a wife. The claims of friendship, as well as those of love, would then be swallowed up by a superior and hateful obligation.

Althorpe himself describes the psychic turmoil, a greater than justified "shock," that comes from hearing that Constantia and her father are suddenly leaving. As he expresses in the quote, everything about her leaving makes him unhappy: her pleasurable company is to be "ravished" from him, he doesn't know when he will see her again, and most probably he will lose his chance to wrest her from her marriage engagement, meaning he will meet her in the future as a married woman. He is able to stay detached from himself and his emotional pain here as he lays out these facts dispassionately.

All men are, at times, influenced by inexplicable sentiments. Ideas haunt them in spite of all their efforts to discard them.

Althorpe has been seized by what he calls the "terror" that Constantia will be killed, which he knows is irrational but which he cannot shake. This intuitive quality of Althorpe's fear adds to the gothic feeling of this story. Althorpe, in this case, either has emotional access to supernatural knowledge of future events or, as the frame suggests, is, unbeknownst to his conscious self, already plotting her murder rather than allowing her to fall into the hands of a rival.

Illustration of PDF document

Download Somnambulism Study Guide

Subscribe Now
Previous

Characters