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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 343

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Conrad: Fifteen-year-old Conrad makes the briefest of appearances. He is crushed on his way to marry Isabella by the improbable—and some have argued comic—event of a giant helmet falling from the statue of Alfonso and landing on him. His role is brief but important for setting the plot of the novel in motion. Jerome explains that the death was a fulfillment of prophecy, enraging Manfred.

Manfred: The evil Manfred, lord of castle of Otranto, became a prototype for the Gothic anti-hero. Becoming obsessed with idea of needing an heir, he abuses his patriarchal power to try to achieve his goal. He is not innately evil but becomes a cruel tyrant who will stop at nothing to marry Isabella, his son's former betrothed, who definitely does not want to be his wife. In many ways, Manfred is modeled on King Henry VIII, who divorced his first wife because he feared that their being related blocked him from having a male heir. Manfred is not really related to Hippolita, but that doesn't stop him from clinging to the theory.

Hippolita: Hippolita is Manfred's wife and the mother of Conrad and Matilda. She is a submissive woman who bears her husband's tyrannies.

Matilda: Matilda is pure and an object of lust in the story. Frederic, who is old enough to be her father, wants to marry her. She is morally good and forgives her father for accidentally stabbing her, even though he never loved her.

Frederic: Frederic is the father of Isabella. He enters into a deal with Manfred to help Manfred marry Isabella in return for Matilda's hand.

Isabella: Another pure young woman, she resists marrying the lustful and cruel Manfred—who can blame her?

Jerome: Jerome is a friar whose help Manfred seeks in implementing his marriage schemes. He is Theodore's father.

Theodore: Theodore is the love object of both Isabella and Matilda. He is a good young man who helps the imprisoned Isabella after himself being imprisoned by Manfred. He and Isabella end up marrying, and he becomes lord of Otranto.

Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 363


Manfred, the prince of Otranto, a usurper. After Manfred’s son is mysteriously killed on his wedding day, Manfred plans to divorce his wife and marry the promised bride himself. After much frightening supernatural intervention, Manfred surrenders his claims to Otranto; he and his wife then enter neighboring convents.


Conrad, the fifteen-year-old son of Manfred. On his wedding day, he is found crushed to death beneath a gigantic helmet.


Isabella, the daughter of the Marquis of Vicenza and the fiancée of Conrad. Manfred plans to marry her after Conrad’s death, but she escapes him with the aid of the true heir to Otranto, whom she marries after Manfred’s abdication.


Theodore, a young peasant and the true heir to Otranto. He is imprisoned and nearly executed by Manfred’s order, but with both human and supernatural aid he triumphs, marrying Isabella and becoming the new Prince of Otranto.


Matilda, Manfred’s daughter. She gives aid to Theodore. Learning that Theodore is in the chapel with a woman, the jealous Manfred goes there and stabs the woman, only to learn that he has killed his daughter Matilda.

Father Jerome

Father Jerome, formerly prince of Falconara, now a priest. Called to give absolution to the condemned Theodore, he discovers that Theodore is his own son, born before he entered the Church.

The Marquis of Vicenza

The Marquis of Vicenza, Isabella’s father. Disguised as the Knight of the Gigantic Sabre, he comes to Otranto, bringing with him a huge sword carried by a hundred men. On its blade is written that only Manfred’s blood can atone for the wrongs done to the family of the true heir. By betrothing the Marquis to Matilda, Manfred gets his consent to his own marriage with Isabella; however, terrifying omens and warnings cause the Marquis to renounce Matilda.

Prince Alfonso the Good

Prince Alfonso the Good, formerly the ruler of Otranto. It is the helmet of his statue that crushes Conrad. His giant form appears to proclaim Theodore, the son of his daughter, heir to Otranto. He then ascends to Heaven.

Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas, who receives Prince Alfonso into Heaven.