Reason plays a key role in The Midnight Embrace. It seems that it does nothing but create more problems for almost all of the characters in the story. Not only does reason cause problems to arise, but it piles them up into an overwhelming heap. This is how the story line is compiled together; cause and effect leading to the eventual down fall of Josephine, Lord Albert, and Guimilda. Their endings are not always a result of their own actions. I believe that they are all asking for it in one manner or another.
In my opinion, Josephine is the only thoroughly rational character throughout the entire story. She has no extreme behaviors other than sadness, which is expected with the circumstances she is enduring at the time. There is no rage or sustaining anger apparent in her human form. Josephine seems to be the most sensible and calm character of them all. She is described from the very beginning as being happy, virtuous, respected, beautiful, and innocent. Josephine's seemingly perfect life was doomed by her loneliness the minute that she fell into the arms of the seductive Lord Albert. Her change of demeanor is very evident. Her attitude does a 180 degree turn around from complete and utter happiness to "regret, remorse, and apprehensionâ€¦ in the lone hours of solitude".
Josephine is Lord Albert's ultimate conquest. Lord Albert is experienced in seduction and deceit. He uses his "superior rank, fortune, and connectionsâ€¦ to furnish him with favourable pretexts to forward his design" and win over Josephine. He goes as far as to lie about his own father for sophistry to convince her that his love was pure but that circumstances prevented him from taking her hand in marriage. Lord Albert even tends to her in the dark at an hour when no one would notice to keep their relationship in secrecy, as if ashamed of her. Lord Albert is referred to as a serpent just like the devil; their manipulative schemes coinciding. Once his marriage to Guimilda is known to Josephine, he promises her that he will provide a more suited home for his maiden with the inheritance he will receive for fulfilling the contract. Though at one time he was satisfied with Josephine and her beauty, he lost his desire for Josephine and loathed her because of Guimilda's beauty. Before his captivation with her appearance, his initial goal was to obtain his and her fortune through marriage.
Guimilda, the newly-wed of Lord Albert, hates Josephine for having "prior claim to his heart". She felt that Lord Albert could never love her perfectly if his heart was occupied by a desire for Josephine. With this thought flustering her mind, Guimilda began to plot her revenge on Josephine when she first learns of his visits to see Josephine. Lord Albert did not put up a fight or discourage the murder. In fact, "he made not half the resistance she expected to encounter". Lord Albert pliantly went along with Guimilda's fiendish and evil plot because he had come to detest his mistress, Josephine. The conspiracy against Josephine by Guimilda and Lord Albert was a simple and unexpected deed. It was the absolute perfect timing for the transition from his previous mistress to his haughty bride. I believe Guimilda's boiling hatred for Josephine drives her to decide how Josephine will breathe her last breath on the wedding night of Lord Albert and Guimilda. Since Lord Albert typically brings a goblet of wine for Josephine as a refreshment, Guimilda's prepared poison is placed without the need of disguise. This marks Guimilda as a coward in my mind. Not only does she hide the method of murder, but she also cannot even do the deed herself. Her cowardice is proven when Guimilda flees to the convent at the sounds of the explosive storm and the sight of Josephine's ghost as she returns from the dead. She remains at the convent until her death put an ending to her mental sufferings.
Josephine's ghost appears to them in a monstrous thunderstorm, which shook the walls and lit up the sky and brought attention upon her grand entrance. This is the moment in which Lord Albert and Guimilda will have to face the consequences of their actions. The payment of their lives is not only for Josephine's murder but also her betrayal. Even with Josephine's life taken from her, she demands that Lord Albert grant his promise to her and allow her a midnight embrace. Upon the third embrace, "he started back in breathless agony and sank senselessly on the floor". The irony of the situation is that he took her last breath so in turn she took his as well. Josephine's deathlike form is described in a very different manner than her human form; it tells of how she "glided from the portalâ€¦ with solemn pace", "she pressed her clammy lips to his", and how she "held himâ€¦ in her noisome icy embrace". This completely contrasts her beauty, happiness, virtuous nature, and innocence of her human form.
Main characters in the story make decisions that cause a domino effect to bring all of their lives to an abrupt and unhappy ending; including Lord Albert, Guimilda, and Josephine's ghost. With that being said, Josephine is plotted against for the selfish intentions of the other two main characters and finally gets her revenge with the repayment of their lives for hers when she comes back in a ghostly form. The settlement of lives would not have occurred if emotions of hatred and ideas of betrayal and deceit did not thrive within each character, except the pure Josephine. Though the reasoning for their choices seemed logical at the time, in the end the poor decisions made by each cost them the most ultimate price; their consequence was a torture-some death filled with excruciating pain and agony. The solutions acquired by their reasoning brought them all to an ill-fated last breath. The irrational decisions made by Lord Albert and Guimilda eventually caught up with them and was too much to handle. In the end, they got what they were asking for, just as Josephine got her midnight embrace.