The Castle of Otranto

by Horace Walpole

Start Free Trial


Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated September 5, 2023.

This presence of mind, joined to the frankness of the youth, staggered Manfred. He even felt a disposition towards pardoning one who had been guilty of no crime. Manfred was not one of those savage tyrants who wanton in cruelty unprovoked. The circumstances of his fortune had given an asperity to his temper, which was naturally humane; and his virtues were always ready to operate, when his passions did not obscure his reason.

Theodore impresses Manfred, which shows that Manfred has not turned to complete evil at the beginning of the novel. The narrator tells us the Manfred was not born evil but became so because of circumstances. The novel also makes a plea for rationality—Manfred's emotions overcoming his reason are his undoing.

The next transition of his soul was to exquisite villainy.

Manfred does become a villain—and he doesn't do it by half measures, as the term "exquisite villainy" indicates. He is a character we love to hate.

It is sinful to cherish those whom heaven has doomed to destruction. A tyrant's race must be swept from the earth to the third and fourth generation.

Father Jerome, the friar, tries to warn his son away for Matilda, the woman Theodore loves, because she is part of a family fated to be destroyed.

The hand! the giant! the hand!—support me! I am terrified out of my senses.

This is one piece of evidence of the supernatural in this novel, a tale which established the supernatural as an element of the Gothic. Here, Bianca, Matilda's servant, tells of seeing the ghost's giant hand, which symbolizes the hand of God. Drops of blood from the nose of a statue, a ghost—such supernatural events add to the novel's sense of horror, melodrama, and foreboding.

Frederic offered his daughter to the new Prince, which Hippolita’s tenderness for Isabella concurred to promote. But Theodore’s grief was too fresh to admit the thought of another love; and it was not until after frequent discourses with Isabella of his dear Matilda, that he was persuaded he could know no happiness but in the society of one with whom he could for ever indulge the melancholy that had taken possession of his soul.

By the end, Theodore is reconciled to the idea of marrying Isabella, though his first love is the dead Matilda. There may be a hint of foreboding in the statement that events have led to Theodore's developing a "melancholy" soul because of all that has happened. Though he has ended up as the lord of Otranto, he has lost something along the way, too.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access



Critical Essays