Manipulative Power and Brutality of Victoria

In Charlotte Dacre’s gothic novel Zofloya; or, The Moor, Victoria is shaped like the main heroine, which carries the characteristics of being manipulative, brutal and violent. The dark side of Victoria’s personality is best exemplified by her attitude towards her husband, Berenza.

Victoria used to own a rather happy family, but she has changed a lot since her mother left home. She held extremely strong revenge and cursed over her mother’s betrayal of the entire family, and this kind of thinking has directly influenced her relationship with Berenza. Her life with Berenza has been tranquil for the beginning several years, but after Berenza’s brother Henriquez came into their life, Victoria began to plan how to get rid of Berenza and eliminate Henriquez’s lover Lilla, and her cruelty gradually emerged.

In the beginning, Victoria deemed Berenza’s love as redundant and the blockade that hindered her pursuit for Henriquez’s love, so she could not hide her impatience towards Berenza. However, Berenza never noticed that, and he still showed his passionate affection to Victoria, but Victoria considered this to be rather disgusting and tried to escape from him. Poor Berenza “mistook this for the embrace of eager love, repentant at past coldness, and the accompanying action for sportive gaiety only.” (Dacre, 187) Actually, Berenza had no idea of Victoria’s change, and he still possessed the passion and love towards her. By taking advantage of Berenza’s love, Victoria could utterly control him. For poor Berenza, he viewed every move of Victoria as lovely and attractive, but Victoria hated it and never told him the truth. As Charlotte Dacre depicted, “while gazing herself with the thought-how soon he would cease to be”, (Dacre, 187) it was obvious that Victoria only had resentment over Berenza. Berenza’s innocence and pure love for Victoria did not move Victoria, but on the contrary, it just made Victoria’s coldness appear to be more prominent.

Later, after Victoria was seduced by Zofloya, she even planned to poison Berenza to death. Victoria’s desire for Henriquez occupied all her attention, so she would have to be indifferent and cruel towards Berenza. In Victoria’s crazy mind, she was quite eager to make Berenza vanish from her life so that she could obtain the opportunity to approach to Henriquez. Victoria offered Berenza the poison secretly, and Berenza should have no doubt over this. Clearly, he presented total trust and love towards her. Surprisingly, sometimes Victoria was very anxious because the poison was too slow to take effect. It was unimaginable for ordinary people to accept her cruelty and heartlessness. Compared to innocent Berenza, who showed his authentic love for Victoria, Victoria’s ruthlessness to kill him just out of her absurd idea was stunning to witness.

From Victoria’s impatience towards Berenza’s passionate love, it was evident that Victoria has completely manipulated him, and she possessed the absolutely dominant position in their relationship. After she fell in love in Henriquez, she hid the truth in front of Berenza and secretly kept planning to poison Berenza to death. Her manipulative power and brutality can be demonstrated through her attitude and behaviors over Berenza.


Works Cited

Dacre, Charlotte. Zofloya; or, The Moor. Vol. 2. London. 1806.

Zofloya and Style

Zofloya is a story whose main plot is a tragedy. This novel is classified as a gothic novel (“Dacre, Zofloya, 1806”). This is a gothic novel because the story’s outcome is a “tragedy.” Also, Victoria’s character is similar to a “Radcliffe-type heroine” (“Dacre, Zofloya, 1806”). This is because the main character is secluded from others, educated though life experiences, but she later becomes a fallen character. Zofloya possesses “special powers” over Victoria, through his deceitfulness. Also, he helps Victoria in her plots. Zofloya ends up turning into a fallen character as well. This novel contains deception and betrayal. In my opinion, this novel is a departure from many of the romances of previous eras, and it definitely portrays a new type of readership (those differing from the texts specifically for monarchs of previous eras), in that the message is a warning to readers about self-deception and betrayal. This novel appears to a wider audience, whose focus is about marriage and finding a suitable mate. This novel definitely serves to send a message to readers of what can happen when an individual comes in contact with the wrong mate.
In my view what is lacking in this novel is empathy or rather compassion for other characters that are present within the novel. Each character looks to the individual’s interests. This tendency to look out for one’s own goals and purposes will later serve to become a tragedy in the end.
When seeking to search how well this novel was received by audiences, I researched the reviews for this novel. When attempting to look up the reviews about Dacre’s novel, I came across several surprising reviews. These reviews could have been insights as to how well the novel was first received by audiences. According to a writer from “Scot’s Magazine 64 (June, 1802, p. 47), 2 “The writer states, that this text is “an improper novel” for audiences. Another writer further states the novel,” introduces the readers to scenes and language adapted to wear away the quick feelings of modesty, which form at once the ornament and the safeguard of innocence, and like the bloom upon a plumb, if effaced, commonly disappears forever (“Scots Magazine 59 (June, 1797), 374-5 extracted from Gisborne”). Another reviewer stated, in regards to Dacre’s novel, “The reason is that unfortunately they have the seeds of nonsense, bad taste, and ridiculous fancies, early sown in their minds.” (Literacy Journal, a Review of Domestic and Foreign Literature, 2nd Series June 1806, 631-635).
Even when writing the novel, Dacre argues that this is a novel intended for “principles.” For example, in chapter one, she writes “The historian who would wish his lessons to sink deep into the heart, thereby essaying to render mankind virtuous and more happy…he must ascertain causes, and follow progressively their effects; he must draw deductions from incidents as they arise, and ever revert to the actuating principle.” (“Zofloya”). Although, Dacre’s novel may have been said to badly influence readers, Dacre’s intent was to portray what could happen in the absence of morality.
Dacre’s style is similar to the style of many writers of the novel. For example, the type of characters in which she has created are distinct. It is also important to mention that even their names are significant. According to Ian Watts in the Rise of the Novel, even comments on the significance of the type of characters and the importance of the type of names given. For example he states “proper names have exactly the same function in social life: they are the verbal expression of the particular identity of each individual person. In literature, however, this function of proper names was first fully established in the novel.” (18). In my opinion, Dacre’s characters function the same way. Even the name Victoria and Zofloya have significance. Therefore, although Dacre’s novel may have not been received so well, it holds a significant place within literature.