The Castle of Otranto

The Castle of Otranto
Overview
Main Characters
Themes
Set in a dark medieval time, The Castle of Otranto follows Manfred and his family's journey to continue lordship over a castle. The novel is considered the first Gothic novel, a genre that includes such authors as Edgar Allan Poe. Part realistic and part fantastical, the novel explores the complications between family and power.
Hippolita
Tragic mother and wife; manipulated by Manfred
Manfred
Tyrannical lord of the Castle of Otranto; commits terrible acts to keep his power
Matilda
Young lady of Otranto; loves Theodore but is murdered by Manfred
Conrad
Young lord of Otranto; crushed to death by a helmet
Isabella
Young woman pursued by Manfred after Conrad's death
Theodore
Rightful heir to the Castle of Otranto; protects Isabella from Manfred
Sterility
Hippolita's inability to bear more children spurs Manfred to act in ways that ultimately destroy himself and his legacy.
Gothic Morality
The intertwining of religious views of the Middle Ages and chivalric conventions create a Gothic morality in The Castle of Otranto. The story devices that result became Gothic novel standards.
Magic vs. Providence
Supernatural events push the narrative to its bloody conclusion, a "sacred vengeance" that rights the crimes Manfred's ancestors committed.
Author
Numbering
1529
Year someone else supposedly wrote The Castle of Otranto—according to a false claim by Walpole
1791
Year Walpole became the 4th Earl of Orford
43
Years it took Walpole to build his own Gothic castle called Strawberry Hill in Twickenham, West London
0
Heirs Walpole had, leading to the end of the earldom of Orford
HORACE WALPOLE 1717-97
A politician, academic, castle architect, and writer, Walpole forever influenced popular culture by establishing the Gothic genre. He was born in London to a powerful political family. The death of Walpole's mother when he was 20 years old fueled the darkness of much of his writing.
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