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Robert Louis Stevenson is a renowned author. Born in the year 1850 on November 13th, he was raised up in Edinburgh. When he was a little boy, Stevenson's life was full of fear and often, he would experience nightmares. During the night, he would wake up screaming because of the images he saw in his dreams. However, these dreams are what inspired most of his writings. He came up with the ideas for his now famous essays and this is what helped him build up his career. Stevenson was not always of the greatest health when he was a little boy. He was always in poor health. His mother was not lucky either. Due to his mother's illness, Stevenson was homeschooled by an old nurse. Her name was Alison Cunningham. The stories that she often narrated to Stevenson had their setting mainly on demons and on ghosts(Stevenson, 2004). These stories stuck on his mind and it is from this background that he got his inspiration for his works.
Stevenson went against the will of his religious parents when he got married. He married a woman who was ten years older than him. She was known as Fanny Osborne. At the time he was marrying her, she already had a child from her previous marriage. She had a daughter, Isobel, who was fairly young. She grew up to become a full grown woman while living at Stevenson's house. Although she was a daughter to him, Stevenson had got erotic feelings towards her. Stevenson often bought Isobel fancy gifts and he would do everything to impress her. His wife however, Isobel's mother, acted as a barrier between Stevenson and what he felt for Isobel. This created rivalry between mother and daughter. But as for Stevenson, one thing was clear; he was attracted to his daughter (Stevenson, 2010).
In his short story "Olalla", Stevenson uses the vivid atmosphere to bring out the theme of love in his story. The setting is Spanish and is made in such an imaginary way that keeps the reader always wanting to read more. The long walks through the mountains, the forbidden house with weird household and the suspense which is in the story are what make it captivating. In bringing out the theme of love in his story, Stevenson gets to a scenario which brings out how deep his love was for his step daughter. He asks her to run off with him from the possessed house, but she refuses to. She fears that she will go insane if she does this, and she asks him to leave. In a desperate show of his love, he puts his hand out of the window of the house, aware of the risk that he is putting himself into. His hand bleeds profusely but this to him is no big deal even though he is endangering his life. This part of the story shows just how much he loved his step daughter and he was willing to do anything for their love, even if it meant death.
Olalla is a short story that was written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1885. Its setting is during the Peninsular War that was taking place in Spain. It is narrated by an officer who was hurt and got sent by his doctor to recuperate on the hills. There he would find a Spanish family and he was to seek refuge at their residence (Stevenson, 2010). This family has got a strange background. There is Senora, who is not married and has got two siblings. These two are named Felipe and Olalla. Upon staying in the house, he starts to notice strange things. He hears screams during the night and he is also haunted by a painting of a pretty lady. This lady in the painting is Senora's ancestor and she resembles both Senora and Felipe. The painting makes him believe that the family is still haunted by their ancestors.
The narrator gets to meet Olalla. He is instantly attracted to her and falls in love. He tries to convince her to run away from the cursed house and get married to him. However, Olalla is scared of the consequences. In his despair acts to show Olalla it is safe with him, he sticks his hand outside the window and instantly starts to bleed. He is not lucky as he is bitten by Senora after she sees the blood. Felipe and Olalla manage to save him from Senora, and he is taken to a nearby village to recuperate (Stevenson, 2010). Here, the narrator meets a priest who explains to him that Senora used to be sane before. He tells the priest about how Olalla feared she might lose her senses too like Senora if she runs off with him. The priest advises him to believe her.
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While still in the village, the narrator meets a peasant who tells him more about the residencia. The peasant explains that Olalla and her family are feared to not be human. The narrator later on gets to hear about a plan to drive away the inhabitants of the residencia by burning them out. He is terrified. The narrator runs to warn his love and the priest, only to discover that Olalla already knew what was going to happen. He asks her once more to leave with him, but she turns down his offer. She tells him that she has faith in Christ. She says she must pass on in her own way and alone (Stevenson, 2010). The narrator gives up and he decides to leave her on her own.
In reading the works of Robert Louis Stevenson, one cannot help but have a vivid memory of the gothic scenes in the book. Stevenson always sought to capture the moment and make it so real using words (Moody, 2010). When the narrator is going up the mountain to the residencia, he describes his surrounding to the reader. He describes how long and terrifying the journey was when going up the terrain in the mountains, the air being full of silence and fear giving the reader a feel of suspense all over. At any moment, the reader thinks a ghost is going to appear out of nowhere to attack the narrator.
When inside the house, the narrator describes what it felt like walking through the corridors of the residencia. When he is walking through the house, he says how he encountered big rooms which had been deserted and were silent and dark. This was once a rich house which bore many expensive household, but they were all now covered in dust and webs. He sees a painting on the wall of the room, it was of a lady and she stared right through his eyes so hard. These descriptions give the feeling of a gothic house and the narrator tries to show how the house was full of a ghostly feeling (Voller, 2010). In writing this story, Robert Louis Stevenson sought to show the elements of gothic by bringing out the ghostly feeling in the story and also the vampires. When the narrator stuck his hand outside the window, he was attacked by Senora who bit him on his wrist. In this context, Stevenson showed that the mother of the two daughters was a vampire because of the raving urge she had for blood. This shows the writers intentions to bring out the topic of ghosts, devils and gothic in his story.
Although many may argue that Olalla is rather a long story than the short story it was meant to be, there is no doubt that it is a marvelous piece of writing. Robert Louis Stevenson acknowledges in this book that he learnt something from his early childhood experiences. The stories he used to hear from the nurse taking care of him greatly impacted his love for ghost stories , and he went ahead to write classical stories and books. Olalla is a great story to read and the literature styles applied to it are a masterpiece of how writing should be done.
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