This is an image worn, possessed, or part of a character in a Gothic story, which will eventually reveal that character’s true identity. For example, in Ann Radcliffe’s The Italian, Ellena wears a small piece of jewelry (a miniature portrait) that convinces the wicked monk Schedoni that she is his daughter. This is incredibly lucky for her, because before this discovery Schedoni’s intentions toward her are evil, and after this discovery he becomes secretly protective. In Horace Walpole's Castle of Otranto, Theodore's noble birth is similarly revealed by his birthmark.
The origins of this trope in earlier English literature are currently being researched by the Gothic Archive. If you wish to receive updates when we post this information, please click the 'follow' button below.
Courtesy of Wendy Fall, Marquette University
See also: revealed genealogies
The Vindictive Monk or The Fatal Ring [Transcript], Isaac Crookenden