The Castle of Otranto

by Horace Walpole

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How the castle represents in The Castle of Otranto with respect between rational and supernatural?

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Though written during the very rational Age of Enlightenment, Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto is a gothic novel (often categorized as the first of its kind) in which the rational, material world and the supernatural, irrational world collide, creating a state of chaos for the characters.

It is difficult to describe what parts of the novel may be rational, as gothic fiction has always been a response to cold logical thinking about the world. The castle is presented as a gloomy, foreboding place, but it is a concrete setting. It is the seat of power in the country. This is about all that is "rational" about it though, for much of the novel is dedicated to Walpole's conjuring of an uncanny atmosphere within its ancient walls. If the castle had a rational element to it, then Walpole would have given materialist explanations for the strange happenings in the castle. However, the ghosts, moving statues, and sighing paintings are never explained away. This is a world where rationality does not hold sway over the setting.

The supernatural, or irrational, aspects of the castle manifest in objects seemingly coming to life, such as statues and portraits. One such example are the paintings, which are described as sighing or sometimes even moving. The paintings tend to be of Manfred's ancestors and relate to the fear that his line will be extinguished. The hallways are drafty, with doors that open and close of their own accord, and they are described as murmuring when Isabella ventures through them.

The castle itself seems to oppose the tyrannical Manfred and his illegitimate rule over the country. The helmet of a giant knight statue falls on top of Manfred's only son, killing him and Manfred's hopes for a dynasty. Its walls begin to collapse when Manfred accidentally kills his only daughter as well.

So, it can be safe to say that there isn't much rational in the titular castle. It is supernatural to the core, defying logical explanations for its haunting.

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