1. In what ways are mystery and suspense created in The Castle of Otranto?
2. What are the literary devices used in The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole?
3. What are the supernatural elements in The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole?
4. What are the themes in Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto?
5. Point out 20 examples of symbolism in The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
6. In what ways do the settings used in The Castle of Otranto reflect the emotional states of the characters?
7. Provide an analysis of The Castle of Otranto, by Horace Walpole, as a gothic novel.
In what ways are mystery and suspense created in The Castle of Otranto?
The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole is considered one of the classics of Gothic fiction. The story has many of the melodramatic elements typical of Gothic fiction, including a setting in a remote castle, characters who are members of the nobility, supernatural events and portents, mistaken or mysterious identity, and somewhat flat characters, either purely good or purely evil. This is not a novel of character, but of plot, and the suspense and mystery in the story are advanced in two ways.
The first is by supernatural events and portents, such as the giant helmet, the skeletal hermit, the giant sword, and the giants. The second way the author creates suspense is by withholding information from readers and from characters in the novel, such as the identity of Theodore and the evil past of Manfred. The final method the author uses to create suspense is by putting sympathetic characters, Theodore and Isabella, in jeopardy.
What are the literary devices used in The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole?
The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole uses several literary devices to create his tale of horror and suspense.
The author uses sensory details (details that appeal to the senses) to create the mood of this dark tale. In the following excerpt, the temperature of Isabella’s hand clarifies in the reader’s mind not only her unstable emotional condition, but also draws a comparison to death, something with which cold is closely associated:
At those words he seized the cold hand of Isabella, who was half dead with fright and horror.
The following example uses personification.
…he saw [the portrait] quit its panel, and descend on the floor with a grave and melancholy air.
Personification is a literary device that gives human characteristics to non-human things. “Air” is used to refer to attitude or mood, which a painting (not the subject of it) cannot have.
Another example of personification is:
An awful silence reigned throughout those subterraneous regions…
A king reigns over people under his power. However, silence is not human but a thing, and cannot reign. This is a use of figurative language, not to be taken literally.
The literary device diction effectively applies “word choice to create a specific effect.” Details that create a sense of darkness and doom are found in the words “grave” and “melancholy.” Diction is of particular importance in sustaining the mood, once it has been established:
…[her father’s] obscure menace to the Princess his wife, accompanied by the most furious behaviour, had filled her gentle mind with terror and alarm.
The words that create a sense of foreboding are menace, furious, terror, and alarm.
Imagery creates a vivid picture in the reader’s mind. Nearly hysterical, Jaquez says…
…we heard a violent motion and the rattling of armour, as if the giant was rising…
The author uses onomatopoeia to advance the fearful mood of his tale. “Rattling” is a word that often brings to mind the image of bones shaking, the hollow sound they make—or even, as is the case here, the hollowness that would be heard in empty armor. And if the armor is also moving, this promotes a sense of fright as well.
Using ominous words, imagery, sensory details, and personification, and even onomatopoeia, the author creates a dark and frightening mood of terror in this story of the earliest origins, a predecessor to other classic tales of horror such as Shelley’s Frankenstein and Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Telltale Heart” and “The Black Cat.
What are the supernatural elements in The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole?
If you are a fan of gothic literature, you might be interested to know that Horace Walpole’s 18th Century novel is the precursor for all future Gothic fiction. Walpole influenced a slew of Gothic authors, including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allen Poe, and Daphne du Maurier.
In his novel, Walpole attempts to combine Old Romance with New Romance. Old Romance greatly focuses on the supernatural and the fantastic. New Romance is more down to earth. In combining the two, Walpole is able to present ordinary characters working amidst extraordinary circumstances. 18th Century England saw the reign of Henry VIII, who started the Anglican Church in order to circumvent Catholic Church rules about marriage. The king wanted to marry Anne Boleyn but the Church was not keen on dissolving his first marriage to the Catholic queen, Catherine of Aragon. All Gothic architecture at the time was almost always religious in structure: they were churches, cathedrals or monasteries. Henry VIII had many of these Gothic (Catholic) churches dismantled or turned over to the state. In due time, the destruction of a religious heritage, the fascination with the unknown, and the religious struggle between Catholic and Protestant England came to embody Gothic literature. The persecuted woman of Gothic fiction paralleled the persecution of the Catholic Church by Henry VIII.
Walpole’s Gothic novel is filled with fantastic occurrences: whether it is a giant helmet falling out of nowhere and crushing a lord’s son to death, or the ghost of Manfred’s grandfather stepping out of a portrait, or a gigantic foot suddenly appearing out of thin air and another gigantic hand resting on the bannister. Walpole seems to want to tap into his readers’ fascination with the world of the unknown and the terrifying. The question of inheritances, of successors and of marriage is heightened through Walpole’s sometimes surrealistically supernatural elements.
Remember that the 18th Century ushered in the Age of Reason. Science, the art of deductive logic and observation were all openly lauded by Enlightenment thinkers. However, the everyday person did not cease to be fascinated and enthralled with the exotic world of magic and superstition. Walpole’s familiar and sometimes farcical supernatural elements allowed his readers to relate to his story. They allowed his readers room to contemplate their own changing world: Manfred’s fight to marry Isabella and secure his heir mirrors Henry VIII’s bold move to create a new Church, exempt from the power of the Catholic Church.
What are the themes in Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Ortranto?
The Castle of Ortranto is widely recognized as the first gothic novel; in fact, some literary experts call it the first novel, while others still hold with Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Here are themes in this imaginative tale:
Legacy/Burden of the Past
The story revolves around an ancient prophecy. Prince Manfred’s one unhealthy son Conrad hastily marries Isabella in order to maintain the family line because he fears an ancient prophesy:
That the castle and lordship of Ortranto should pass from the present family whenever the real owner should be grown too large to inhabit it.
When Manfred’s son dies because a huge helmet, much like the one on a statue of Prince Alfonso in the church, mysteriously falls on him in the castle’s courtyard, Manfred decides that he will marry Isabella and divorce his wife who can bear no more children. But Isabella does not want to marry Prince Manfred, and instead escapes with the true heir, Theodore. Manfred, then, tries to have him killed, but when a mark near his shoulder identifies him to Father Jerome, the priest begs the prince to spare his life. Eventually, after Manfred is forced to abdicate Theodore is restored as Prince.
There are a number of supernatural occurrences as pictures move, doors suddenly close on their own, along with fantastical situations and exaggerated human emotions.
Tragedies of Blood
The next generation, Theodore and Isabella fight with the patriarchal order and must forge something different and meaningful in their lives. Tragically, Prince Manfred later mistakenly slays his own daughter Matilda.
In the morning Manfred signed his abdication of the principality, with the approbation of Hippolita…Frederic offered his daughter to the new prince…but Theodore’s grief was too fresh…and it was not till after frequent discourses with isabella…that he was persuaded h could know no happiness but in the society of one with whom he could forever indulge the melancholy that had taken possession of his soul.
Point out 20 examples of symbolism in The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
Here are some examples of symbolism split up by category.
Metaphors: A metaphor is a figure of speech that uses symbolism.
Time is money
Life is a roller-coaster
He is a rock
Love is a jewel
Allegory as symbolism: Allegory is an extended use of symbolism and metaphors.
“All the world’s a stage,And all the men and women merely players;they have their exits and their entrances;And one man in his time plays many parts,” -Shakespeare
Symbolism in poetry
“Ah Sunflower, weary of time, Who countest the steps of the sun; Seeking after that sweet golden clime Where the traveler’s journey is done;”
Black is used to represent death or evil.
White stands for life and purity.
Red can symbolize blood, passion, danger, or immoral character.
Purple is a royal color.
Yellow stands for violence or decay.
Blue represents peacefulness and calm.
*colors have different connotations in different cultures*
Objects as symbolism
A chain can symbolize the coming together of two things.
A ladder can represent the relationship between heaven and earth or ascension.
A mirror can denote the sun but when it is broken, it can represent an unhappy union or a separation.
In what ways do the settings used in The Castle of Otranto reflect the emotional states of the characters?
This novel is widely recognised as being one of the most famous Gothic novels in the English language, as it contains all of the critical ingredients necessary for a Gothic novel. Gothic novels normally contained naive and innocent heroines who were entrapped by evil and dastardly males who had sexual designs on them. A young, brave and upright hero battles to save her and the setting is normally based in a ruined castle, an abandoned abbey or a place that is far away from civilisation and the rest of humanity.
The setting is a key aspect of Gothic fiction, as it highlights the way that Gothic literature exaggerates human emotions. Being so far away from the restraining influence of civilisation, the responses of the characters–the hysteria of the damsel in distress, for example– is that much more acute. It highlights the way in which Gothic novels are psychological novels, and the responses of the characters are extreme emotional and passionate responses that move them beyond the realms of normal experience and into the hinterland of the unconscious and psychological realm of emotions and passions. You might find this a useful way of examining the range of extreme emotions as expressed in this novel, perhaps especially the hysteria of Isabella.
Provide an analysis of The Castle of Otranto, by Horace Walpole, as a gothic novel.
With regard to The Castle of Ortranto: A Gothic Story, and the Gothic horror genre:
Gothic fiction (sometimes referred to as Gothic horror) is a genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. As a genre, it is generally believed to have been invented by the English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto…
It is generally regarded as the first gothic novel, initiating a literary genre which would become extremely popular in the later 18th century and early 19th century.
It was presented as a translation from the Italian, believed to be based on an earlier version from the 1500s, which was said to have been based on an even earlier story dating to the Crusades (details which were all created by Walpole).
The novel predates other Gothic horror writers that would follow, such as Bram Stoker (Dracula) and Mary Shelley (Frankenstein). Romantic writers also contributed to this genre with works such as Coleridge’s The Rime of an Ancient Mariner.
There are many characteristics of Gothic horror (or fiction). Generally speaking (among others), look for:
a remote, foreign or mysterious location (often in a castle)
elements of the supernatural (ghosts, hauntings, etc.)
a tormented protagonist and/or a damsel in distress (i.e., Jane Eyre)
Based on a summary of the plot, the elements that support the story as a Gothic piece of literature include a possible hereditary curse against the Otranto family (the supernatural), the setting in a remote location (castle), as well as a tormented antagonist (Manfred) and a damsel in distress (Isabella). As with other stories of this kind, there was also death (when Manfred loses his son at the beginning, and later when he kills Matilda by accident).
Based upon the plot developments of the story and the elements of the Gothic horror genre, The Castle of Otranto is an example of Gothic fiction.
Romanticism was a general movement in the arts (novels, poetry, paintings, music, etc) which occurred in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and reached its height around the time Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. Mary's parents, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, influenced many of the Romantic writers of the time and Mary herself was married to one of the movement's most famous poets, Percy Bysshe Shelley. The Romantics were concerned with:
- The power of nature. There are many storms in the book and it is an electrical force that brings the Monster to life.
- Wild and rugged landscapes in faraway lands. Some of the book's settings include the Swiss Alps, the Orkney Islands, the Irish coastline and the Arctic.
- Intense feelings. Both Victor and the Monster experience extremes of emotion and care passionately about their beliefs.
- The isolated Romantic hero. The Monster is rejected by society and, at first, is generally noble in its bearing.
- Social responsibility and justice. This is a key theme in the novel.