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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 254

One theme of the novel is that God's providence is different from magic. Magic and superstition are powerless and to be disregarded. It is often the lower class servants who are fooled into believing in superstition and who must be set straight by their upperclass employers.

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However, one ignores God's heavenly signposts at one's peril. One of Manfred's problems, and an emblem of his depravity, is his inability to read or heed God's portents. For example, when paintings move to point Manfred to certain events that need to occur—and when one figure in a painting begins to look like Theodore, suggesting he is the rightful heir—Manfred ignores these heavenly signals. He also ignores the blood drops that come out of the statue of Alfonso the Good. By not responding to divine guidance, Manfred seals his doom.

Inheritance is another theme of the novel. Central to the story is the question of who is the rightful heir to Otranto after Conrad is killed by the helmet. Manfred is desperate to produce a blood heir to the estate, and he misses the signs that Theodore is the destined lord.

Another theme of the novel is that good triumphs over evil. Manfred and his daughter, Matilda, an innocent he mistakenly kills, both pay for the misdeeds of their ancestors. Yet even Theodore, although he triumphs, is touched by the evil that has descended on the castle. He mourns Matilda, and marries Isabella somberly, uniting with her because she is one who can understand his pain.


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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 229

The Castle of Otranto , a novel by Horace Walpole, has a fairly straightforward narrative despite a couple of plot twists at the end. The overall theme of the novel is that righteousness, or justice, will always triumph over greed. The antagonist of...

(The entire section contains 483 words.)

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Critical Essays