The Castle of Otranto


  • Manfred — the lord of the Castle of Otranto. He is the father of Conrad and Matilda, and the husband of Hippolita. After his son is killed by the falling helmet, he becomes obsessed with the idea of ending his marriage with Hippolita in pursuit of the much younger Isabella, who was supposed to marry his son. Manfred serves as the prime antagonist of the novel; he is the dictatorial ruler and father that drives the plot forward in a depiction of deranged cruelty visited upon his children.[1]
  • Hippolita — the wife of Manfred and the mother of Conrad and Matilda. After having lost her son, she is left with just Matilda to combat the tyrannical turn of mind that her husband displays. Manfred intends to divorce her due to her sterility and on the grounds that their marriage is in fact false because they are actually related. Faced with the threat of divorce, Hippolita is mournful yet submissive to the wills of her husband. She acts as a sort of enabler to her husband, putting aside her morals and happiness so that her husband can get what he wants.
  • Conrad — the fifteen-year-old son of Manfred and Hippolita and the younger brother of Matilda. In the first pages of the novel, he is crushed by a giant helmet on his way to his wedding with Isabella.
  • Matilda — Matilda is the daughter of Hippolita and the oppressive Manfred. She falls in love with Theodore, much to her chagrin since it is a love unsanctioned by her parents. Upon the appearance of Frederic, things become even more complicated as Frederic lusts after Matilda. She serves as the forbidden woman, a facet of Gothic literature.[2] Frederic and Manfred make plans to swap their daughters in marriage, crushing Matilda's hope of being with Theodore. At the end of the novel, she is mistakenly stabbed by her father.
  • Isabella — the daughter of Frederic and the fiancée of Conrad (at the beginning of the novel). After the death of Conrad, she makes it clear that, although she did not love Conrad, she would have far preferred being betrothed to him rather than his father, who pursues her throughout the novel. Isabella and Matilda have a brief argument concerning the fact they both have feelings for Theodore. After the death of Matilda, Theodore settles for Isabella and the two become the lord and lady of the castle.
  • Theodore — at the beginning of the novel, Theodore appears to be a mere minor character, whose role is purely to point out the significance of the helmet as a link to the fulfilment of the prophecy. However, he emerges as a main character after Manfred orders him to be imprisoned within the helmet for his insolence and he escapes, only to help Isabella escape from the castle through a trapdoor. He is revealed later in the novel to be the lost son of Friar Jerome. Theodore proceeds to protect Isabella from the wanton lust of Manfred. He captures the hearts of both Isabella and Matilda, but settles for Isabella after Matilda's death. He also later goes on to rule the Castle of Otranto.
  • Friar Jerome — the friar at the monastery near the Castle of Otranto. Manfred attempts to manipulate him into both supporting his plan to divorce his wife and persuading his wife to go along with this plan. It is later discovered that he is Theodore's father.
  • Frederic — the long-lost father of Isabella who appears late into the novel. He opposes Manfred at first, until he settles on a deal to marry Matilda.
  • Bianca — the servant of Matilda who serves as a comic relief of the otherwise highly melodramatic novel.
  • Diego and Jaquez — these two, like Bianca, are other servants within the Castle of Otranto.

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