Homework Help

Please provide an analysis of The Castle of Otranto, by Horace Walpole, as a gothic novel.

user profile pic

sanem88 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted January 17, 2011 at 6:25 PM via web

dislike 1 like

Please provide an analysis of The Castle of Otranto, by Horace Walpole, as a gothic novel.

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 17, 2011 at 7:29 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 2 like

With regard to The Castle of Ortranto: A Gothic Story, and the Gothic horror genre:

Gothic fiction (sometimes referred to as Gothic horror) is a genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. As a genre, it is generally believed to have been invented by the English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto...

It is generally regarded as the first gothic novel, initiating a literary genre which would become extremely popular in the later 18th century and early 19th century.

It was presented as a translation from the Italian, believed to be based on an earlier version from the 1500s, which was said to have been based on an even earlier story dating to the Crusades (details which were all created by Walpole).

The novel predates other Gothic horror writers that would follow, such as Bram Stoker (Dracula) and Mary Shelley (Frankenstein). Romantic writers also contributed to this genre with works such as Coleridge's The Rime of an Ancient Mariner.

There are many characteristics of Gothic horror (or fiction). Generally speaking (among others), look for:

  • a remote, foreign or mysterious location (often in a castle)
  • elements of the supernatural (ghosts, hauntings, etc.)
  • a tormented protagonist and/or a damsel in distress (i.e., Jane Eyre)

Based on a summary of the plot, the elements that support the story as a Gothic piece of literature include a possible hereditary curse against the Otranto family (the supernatural), the setting in a remote location (castle), as well as a tormented antagonist (Manfred) and a damsel in distress (Isabella). As with other stories of this kind, there was also death (when Manfred loses his son at the beginning, and later when he kills Matilda by accident).

Based upon the plot developments of the story and the elements of the Gothic horror genre, The Castle of Otranto is an example of Gothic fiction.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes