Posted: June 25th, 2021
In “The Castle Of Otranto” begins as Conrad, son of Manfred of the house of Otranto, is crushed by a giant helmet on this weeding day, also hhis birthday.
Manfred, having no other male heir, decides to divorce his wfe and marry his son’s wife, Isabella, himself. Manfred’s union is disrupted by a series of supernatural events involving ghost, mysterious blood, and a true prince. Man, prince of Otranto, is impatient about marrying his son conrad a “homely youth, sickly, and of no promising disposition” (Walpole 17) to the marquis of Vicenza’s daughter Isabella.Hippolita, Manfred’s wife, is worried about marrying the young prince off so early (he is only 15), but her husband ignores her concern, only pointing to “her own sterility, who had given him but on heir” (Walpole 17). Manfred seemed quite reckless about the wedding, probably because of his “dread of seeing accomplished an ancient prophecy” (Walpole 17). The wedding ceremony was fixed for Conrad’s birthday. However, when everything is ready for the “divine” office”, Conrad is missing.
Manfred sent a servant to look for his son, but the servant returned breathless, his eyes staring, and foaming at the mouth telling him about a giant helmet in the court. When Manfred reached the helmet, “an hundred times more large than any casque ever made for human being, and shaded with a equal quantity of black feathers” (Walpole 18). However, Manfred seemed more concerned mabout the helmet than about his son’s death.While Hippolita and Conrad’s eighteen year old sister, Matilda mourn the death of their son/brother, and Isabella although not sad about the loss of her future husband, for whom she had had little affection joins in their grief. Manfred’s only concern was the casque in the court. A young peasant appeared and realized a strong resemblance between the casque and that of the black marble figure of Alfonso the Good, one of the former princes, in the church of St. Nicholas.
Manfred became furious about this statement.But before he could punish the yound peasant, some spectators came back from the church to which they had ran and informed Manfred that the statue’s helmet is missing. Manfred accused the peasant of a being a witch and gave orders to imprison him without food underneath the casque in the court. He then locked the gates of the castle and retires to his chamber. Meanwhile, Hippolita is worried about Manfred and sent Matilda to see to him. But Manfred told Matilda that does not want a daughter and sent her away. The girl, deeply hurt, returned to her mother and told her that her husband is well to calm her down.
A servant appeared, informing Isabella that Manfred wants to see her. Obeying, Isabella goes to see Manfred. It is now evening, and the sevant accompanying her is carrying a torch. However, when they reached Manfred’s chamber, he ordered the servant to take away the light and sent him off. He then tells Isabella about the importance of keeping up his line, cursing Hippolita for her “unfruitfulness” (Walpole 24) and therefore having decided to divorce her, and offers himself as Isabella’s new husband now that his son has died. Isabella is terrified and starts from him.Manfred rises to pursue her, but suddenly sees “the plumes of the fatal helmet” at the window.
Shortly after, the portrait of his grandfather exposed a deep sigh, which distracted Manfred for a moment. Isabella saw her chance and escapes, while the portrait quits its panel. Manfred was asked to follow the painting to a chamber into which it enters, but before Manfred could enter, the door closes. He then decides to pursue Isabella, who has meanwhile escaped into a underground vault that leads to the church and convent of St. Nicholas.In the labyrinth, she encounters the yound peasant, who then helps her escape through a secret trap door before Manfred, whom they can already hear, reaches them. When he does, the peasant had to explain how he could escape from the helmet-prison and Manfred also questioned the yuouth about Isabella.
The peasant pretended to not know anything about her, trying to win time for Isabella’s flight. While the two are discussing, two servants come and tell Manfred that while they were trying to find Isabella in the great gallery, they saw the limbs of a giant in armor in a chamber close by.Manfred is determined to find out more about these strange events, and the peasant offers his help. Suspecting that Isabella might be hiding in his wife’s chamber, Manfred goes there first and then tells Hippolita to call the chaplain. He then continues his search. When he returns from the cault, he finds Hippolita and the chaplain, who tell him that they have examined the chamber and found nothing. Manfred once againdecides that he must marry Isabella and, having given orders to guard the castle, and having locked the peasant in a room, he retires to his chamber.
Matilda has retired to her apartment and is now waiting for the return of her maiden Bianca, who she had sent to examine about Isabella’s whereabouts. The two discuss Matilda’s attitude towards men and her plan to join a monastery. Bianca wans her mistress to get married instead, and Matilda admits that she has always been very fond of Alfonso the Good’s picutre and that she believes that somehow her desiny is linked to him. They also talk about some fatal secret that Hippolita is obviously keeping.Soon, the two women begin to hear strange noises coming from the chamber beneath, and Bianca immediately believes that it must be a ghost; that the castle is certainly haunted. However, they found out that it is the yound peasant who is causing the noise. Through Matilda’s open window, she began to talk with the youth, who investigate about Isabella and what has became of her.
The two women suspected that hu must be in love with her, and Matilda is a little disappointed as she thinks that Isabella would confess anything to her but she had never mentioned the young peasant.Before they could learn more from the peasant, a servant suddenly appeared and informed the two women that Isabella has been found in the monastery of St. Nicholas. Meanwhile, Manfred is at Hippolita’s apartment to find out more about Isabella’s whereabouts. Father Jerome comes to the apartment to talk to Manfred and Hipplita about Isabella; he wants to ask Hippolia whether she knows the cause of Isabella’s retirement to the monastery. Before she can answer, however, Manfred interrupts the father, eagerly trying to avoid his telling Hipplita of the circumstances.Father Jerome nevertheless gives an account of Isabella’s story and askes that they leave her at peace.
Once again, he begins to hint at details concerning Isabella, but Manfred again interrupts him and Hippolita, realizing that Manfred does not want her to hear the father’s words, leaves. Manfred then tries to convince Father Jerome that he must have an heir and then asks the priest to persuade Isabella to marry him. To get Father Jerome on his side, Manfred even hints at an unlawful marriage between Hippolita and himself, telling the father that Hippolita is actually related to him in the fourth degree.Father Jeome is now unsure what to do and tries to win time. Manfred then asks Jerome who the youth is, whether he is Isabella’s lover and Jerome, thinking that this might help Isabella, affirms Manfred’s assumption. At this, Manfred becomes furious. He ordered the peasant to be brought before him and begins to interrogate him about his connection with Isabella.
During this interrogation, Matilda and Bianca are on their way toHippolita’s apartment. They overdear the men’s conversation and suddenly realize a strong resemblance between the peasant whose name is Theodore and the picture of Alfonso.When Manfred utters the verdict (Theodore is to beheaded), Matilda faints and Bianca exclaims that the princess is dead. Matilda is carried away and Manfred ordered Theodore to kneel down to receive his punishment. Theodore asked to be allowed to confess to someone and Manfred grants his wish, calling Father Jerome, hoping to find out more about the youth that way. Father Jerome tries to convince Manfred to spare the youth, but Manfred is determined to have him beheaded. As theodore kneels down to receive his punishment, his shirt slips down and discovers the “mark of a bloody arrow ” (Walpole 51).
Suddenly, Jerome recognizes the mark and realizes that Theodore is his son. Father Jerome tells the story and reveals that he is in fact that count of Falconara (Sicily). He begs for Theodore’s life and Manfred said that he will give the boy’s life in return for Isabella. Theodore and Father Jerome object, wanting to save Isabella. Before anything is decided, a trumpet is heard, announcing someone at the gate. At the same time, the sable plumes on the helmet in the court begin to nod “thrice, as if bowed by some invisible wearer” (Walpole 53).Manfred is terrified at these events and begs Father Jerome to see who is at the gate.
The priest told Manfred to release Theodore first, then he will do as he wishes. Manfred agrees. It is a herald from the knight of the gigantic blade and he had wished to speak with the leader of Otranto. At Father Jerome’s account and the word “usurper”, Manfred’s rage rekindles and he decides to meet the herald himaelf, and ordered the priest to bring Isabella from the convent. He takes Theodore hostage to assure that the friar will do as he is told.Manfred admits the herald to his presence, who told Manfred that, in the name of his lord Fredric Marquis of Bicenza, the knight of the gigatic sword “demands the lady Isabella, daughter of that price, whom thou hasely and traitorously got into thy power, by bribing her false guardians during his absence: and he requires thee to resign the principality of Otranto, which thou hast usurped from the said lord Frederic, the nerest of blood to the last rightful lord Alfonso the Good” (Walpole 55). Otherwise he will challenge him in combat to the last termination.
Manfred reflects about his state: “Frederic’s ancestors had assumed the style of princes of Otranto, from the death of Alfonso the Good without issue: but Manfred, his father, and grandfather, had been too powerful for the house of Vicenza to dispossess them. Frederic had married a beautiful young lady,who had died in childbed of Isabella. Her death affected him so much, that he had taken the cross and gone to the Holy Land, where he was wounded in an engagement against the infidels, made prisoner, and reported to be dead.When the news reached Manfred’s ears, hebribed the guardians of the lady Isabella to deliver her up to him as a bride for his son Conrad; by which alliance he had purposed to unite the claims of the two house” (Walpole 56). This motive had also given him the idea to marry Isabella himself now; and he then wanted to obtain Frederic’s acceptance to this marriage. He then invites the knight to the castle. Meanwhile, Father Jerome is still agitated and does not know what to do.
He retured to the temple where he is then informed that apparently Hippolita is dead. Father Jerome asked where Isabella was and was told that she retired to her chamber. However, when he reached the chamber, Isabella is nowhere to be found. Father Jerome decided to return to Manfred to convince him of his innocence. Manfred is welcoming the knight and his team, which is carrying an enormous sword. Again, the feathers on the helmet in the court are agitated. Manfred tried several times to get the knight to disarm and to speak but the knight refused.
Suddenly, the gigantic sword falls to the ground, next to the helmet, and is now immovable. Manfred fears for his fate. Having reached the hall, Manfred again asked numerous questions but does not receive any answers. Then, Manfred began to talk, soon turning to business. He defends his right to the throne, but the knight only shakes his head. Manfred then told the knight that his son has died and that Isabella is therefore at liberty. He goes on, telling that his marriage to Hippolita is unlawful and that he will soon be freed from this relationship.
He emphazized his determination to restore the line of Alfonso and therefore suggests that it would be best if he and Isabella got married. At this moment, Father Jerome and his company arrived and uncovered to the strangers the truth about Isabella’s flight. Theknight repoached Manfred and asked him about the circumstances. Manfred made up a story and Father Jerome is too worried about his son’s life to contradict. However, onw of his brethren explains what happend, and the group moves off in search of Isabella.At the same time, Matilda grabbed the chance and frees the peasant, as all servants and guards are involved int he search for Isabella. In the courese of their interview, Theodore and Matilda discovered their affection for each other, but Matilda reminds the peasant of Isabella.
Theodore, however, does not know who she is talking about; he had assumed that it was Matilda whom he had assisted in the vault. Matilda supplied Theodore with her father’s armory and, exchanging expressions of affection once more, helped him escape.Theodore went to a cave in the forest where he suddenly meets Isabella, who is hiding there. Revealing to her that he is on her side, he promised to protect her from Manfred. At this moment, a person in search of Isabella arrived and Theodore wants to prevent him from entering the cave. He found the knight talking to a peasant outside the cave. The two engage in combat and Theodore wounds the knight.
Soon, however, the two men discovered thir error. They both are enemies of Manfred. The knight asked for Isaabella, and whern she arrives, he informed her that he was Frederic, her father.They carried Frederic to the castle to take of his injuries. The troop arrived at the castle and was met by Matilda and Hippolita, who gave orders to take care of Frederic’s wounds. Isabella realized that Theodore and Matilda have affections for one another. Frederic informed Hippolita and the others of his story.
That while being imprisoned, he had a dream about Isabella being in danger. Fortunately, the confederate princfes paid his ransom and he immediately set out for the wood he had seen in his dream. There, he encountered a hermit who told him about a secret:
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