In The Mysteries of Udolpho, characters practice science in home
laboratories, libraries, green houses and gardens, using observation,
instruments, and books to study botany, astronomy, and chemistry. By integrating
these moments of everyday science into her novels - and making them integral to
the development of her heroines - Ann Radcliffe presents a landscape in which
both reason and sensibility are enlisted to gather and process information and
create meaning in a way that echoed the popular scientific discourse of the day.
To date, there has been no sustained study of Radcliffe’s incorporation of
scientific practice and rhetoric into her Gothic novels. By looking closely at
the scientific engagement within her texts, we can broaden the basis for
understanding her work as a part of the broader culture that not only included,
but was in many ways predicated upon the shifting landscape of science at the
end of the eighteenth century.