Representations of ritual violence in English and Spanish Romanticism
This chapter focuses on sacred violence. It defines the function of representations of that violence and the limits that it encountered in the cultural discourses that emerged during the transition from the eighteenth to the early nineteenth centuries. The chapter contrasts the perspective on religious ritualism that is offered by British authors writing about Spain with the representation of this phenomenon in Spanish culture. It examines one obvious example of religiously sanctioned violence in one of the period's key texts, Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer. As Melmoth says to Immalee at one point, the pious Catholics who welcome her in Spain are the same that, were she seen as retaining pagan beliefs, would shout their 'hallelujahs to your dying screams of torture'. The subjective perspective offered by the Gothic involves a sense of fascination that superimposes itself on the ideological critique of Catholic Spain.