The Castle of Otranto

Isabella Character Analysis

A princess and the daughter of Frederic, the Marquis of Vincenza, at the beginning of the novel Isabella is Conrad’s fiancé and the ward and de facto daughter of Hippolita and Manfred. Like Matilda, Isabella is beautiful, pious, and a model of filial devotion. Despite her personal reluctance, she agrees to marriage with Conrad because she believes it to be arranged by her long-lost father (later the narrator reveals that Manfred actually bribed her guardians). When Manfred attempts to rape her, Isabella protects her virtue by fleeing the castle with the help of Theodore and escapes to a cave where she meets Frederic, her long-lost father. After Manfred’s failed attempt to kill her, Isabella mourns the loss of Matilda with Theodore and eventually marries him.

Isabella Quotes in The Castle of Otranto

The The Castle of Otranto quotes below are all either spoken by Isabella or refer to Isabella. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Humor, the Gothic, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of The Castle of Otranto published in 2004.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Manfred rose to pursue her; when the moon, which was now up, and gleamed in at the opposite casement, presented to his sight the plumes of the fatal helmet, which rose to the height of the windows, waving backwards and forwards in a tempestuous manner, and accompanied with a hollow and rustling sound…. “Heaven nor hell shall impede my designed!” said Manfred, advancing again to seize the princess. At that instant, the portrait of his grandfather, which hung over the bench where they had been sitting, uttered a deep sigh, and heaved its breast.

Related Characters: Manfred (speaker), Isabella, Ricardo
Related Symbols: The Giant Suit of Armor
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:
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Ashamed, too, of his inhuman treatment of a princess, who returned every injury with new marks of tenderness and duty; he felt returning love forcing itself into his eyes—but not less ashamed of feeling remorse towards one, against whom he was inwardly meditating a yet more bitter outrage, he curbed the yearnings of his heart, and did not dare to lean even towards pity. The next transition of his soul was to exquisite villainy. Presuming on the unshaken submission of Hippolita, he flattered himself that she would not only acquiesce with patience to a divorce, but would obey, if it was his pleasure, in endeavouring to persuade Isabella to give him her hand.

Related Characters: Manfred, Isabella, Hippolita
Related Symbols: The Giant Suit of Armor
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 2 Quotes

I fear no man’s displeasure when a woman in distress puts herself under my protection.

Related Characters: Theodore (speaker), Manfred, Isabella
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 3 Quotes

Know then, that I have long been troubled in mind on my union with the princess Hippolita…for we are related within the forbidden degrees. My only difficulty was to fix on a successor, who would be tender of my people, and to dispose of the Lady Isabella, who is dear to me as my own blood. I was willing to restore the line of Alfonso, even in his most distant kindred…. I would submit to anything for the good of my people—were it not the best, the only way to extinguish the feuds between our families, if I was to take the Lady Isabella to wife—you start—but, though Hippolita’s virtues will ever be dear to me, a prince must not consider himself; he is born for his people.

Related Characters: Manfred (speaker), Isabella, Hippolita, Alfonso
Page Number: 69-70
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 4 Quotes

Where’er a casque that suits this sword is found,
With perils is thy daughter compass’ed round;
Alfonso’s blood alone can save the maid,
And quiet a long restless prince’s shade.

Related Characters: Frederic (speaker), Theodore, Isabella, Alfonso
Related Symbols: The Giant Suit of Armor
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:
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And jealousy, that, for a moment, had raised a coolness between these amiable maidens, soon gave way to the natural sincerity and candour of their souls. Each confessed to the other the impression that Theodore had made on her; and this confidence was followed by a struggle of generosity, each insisting on yielding her claim to her friend.

Related Characters: Theodore, Isabella, Matilda
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:
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“Thou art as much too good for this world,” said Isabella, “as Manfred is execrable—but think not, lady, that thy weakness shall determine for me. I swear, hear me all ye angels” — Stop, I adjure thee,” cried Hippolita; “remember thou dost not depend on thyself; thou hast a father.”

Related Characters: Isabella (speaker), Hippolita (speaker), Manfred, Frederic
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:
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It is not ours to make election for ourselves: heaven, our fathers, and our husbands, must decide for us. Have patience until you hear what Manfred and Frederic have determined. If the marquis accepts Matilda’s hand, I know she will readily obey. Heaven may interpose and prevent the rest.

Related Characters: Hippolita (speaker), Manfred, Isabella, Frederic, Matilda
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:
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Manfred, in the mean time, had broken his purpose to Frederic, and proposed the double marriage. That weak prince, who had been struck with the charms of Matilda, listened but too eagerly to the offer. He forgot his enmity to Manfred, whom he saw but little hope of dispossessing by force; and flattering himself that no issue might succeed from the union of his daughter with the tyrant, he looked upon his own succession to the principality as facilitated by wedding Matilda.

Related Characters: Manfred, Isabella, Frederic, Matilda
Page Number: Book Page 91
Explanation and Analysis:
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Isabella Character Timeline in The Castle of Otranto

The timeline below shows where the character Isabella appears in The Castle of Otranto. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Lineage and Leadership Theme Icon
Class, Comedy, and Tragedy Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
...beginning of the story, Manfred is impatiently waiting for the marriage between his son and Isabella, the daughter of the Marquis of Vincenza. Hippolita, Manfred’s wife, previously noted several times the... (full context)
Humor, the Gothic, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Lineage and Leadership Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
...and points wordlessly to the court. Everyone is in terror; Hippolita faints, and Matilda and Isabella take care of her, while Manfred goes out to the court, only to discover that... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
...wife and daughter, his first words are an order to “take care of the Lady Isabella.” The servants bring a shocked and distraught Hippolita to her room. Matilda assists her, as... (full context)
Lineage and Leadership Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
...mother, Matilda returns to Hippolita with news that Manfred is well. A servant arrives, summoning Isabella to speak with Manfred in the gallery. When Isabella arrives, Manfred orders his servant to... (full context)
The Divine vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Lineage and Leadership Theme Icon
Class, Comedy, and Tragedy Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Surprised, Isabella believes that Manfred suspects her lack of love towards Conrad. Isabella tells him not to... (full context)
Humor, the Gothic, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
The Divine vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Screaming in fear, Isabella runs away but is followed by Manfred, who is momentarily distracted by moonlight shining on... (full context)
Humor, the Gothic, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Meanwhile, a frightened Isabella is thinking frantically about where to go. Despite her initial instinct, she decides not to... (full context)
Humor, the Gothic, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Class, Comedy, and Tragedy Theme Icon
However, the figure is a stranger, whose kind voice offers to help Isabella and to protect her from Manfred with his life. Together, Isabella and the stranger open... (full context)
Humor, the Gothic, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Class, Comedy, and Tragedy Theme Icon
...because of their rambling and inarticulate speech, Manfred learns that during the servants’ search for Isabella, they encountered a giant leg in armor in the court. The peasant expresses interest in... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
The narrator then flashes back to Manfred in the moments immediately after Isabella escaped him. Manfred, searching for Isabella in Hippolita’s room, rejects his wife’s affection, asking only... (full context)
Humor, the Gothic, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
The Divine vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
...Hippolita’s kindness, Manfred begins to feel remorse and shame for his treatment of Hippolita and Isabella. However, emboldened by the thought of his wife’s submission, he is unable to maintain this... (full context)
Chapter 2
Class, Comedy, and Tragedy Theme Icon
...in her own room, Matilda is restless and overwhelmed with emotion at her brother’s death, Isabella’s disappearance, and the ominous tone and rage Manfred had exhibited toward her mother. Her servant,... (full context)
Class, Comedy, and Tragedy Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
...reasoning and decides to respect his privacy. However, when the stranger asks about the missing princess, Matilda becomes suspicious that he is spying on her father and ends the conversation. (full context)
Class, Comedy, and Tragedy Theme Icon
Bianca reveals that the servants believe the stranger helped Isabella escape. She insinuates that the stranger is unhappy because he is in love with Isabella... (full context)
The Divine vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
At that moment, a servant interrupts them with the news that Isabella has sought sanctuary at St. Nicholas’s church and that Father Jerome of the church is... (full context)
Lineage and Leadership Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Jerome then passes along a message from Isabella to both Manfred and Hippolita, affirming her compassion for Conrad’s loss and her respect for... (full context)
The Divine vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Class, Comedy, and Tragedy Theme Icon
...room, Manfred has a private discussion with Jerome and claims that his attempt to rape Isabella was motivated by “reasons of state.” He tries to bribe Jerome with money for the... (full context)
Lineage and Leadership Theme Icon
Class, Comedy, and Tragedy Theme Icon
...Manfred’s attempt to manipulate him but decides to play along, as he fears for Hippolita, Isabella, and whomever else Manfred might harm if angered. When Manfred interrogates Jerome about the peasant,... (full context)
Chapter 3
Humor, the Gothic, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
The Divine vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
...dominance, Manfred reneges on his promise to Jerome and ransoms Theodore’s life in exchange for Isabella. (full context)
The Divine vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Lineage and Leadership Theme Icon
...on behalf of his lord Frederic, he is demanding the safe return of Frederic’s daughter, Isabella, who had fallen into Manfred’s hands after he bribed her guardians. Frederic also demands control... (full context)
Humor, the Gothic, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Lineage and Leadership Theme Icon
Class, Comedy, and Tragedy Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
...and that in order to avoid incest and restore Alfonso’s line, he intended to marry Isabella, “who is dear to [him] as [his] own blood.” (full context)
The Divine vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
...interrupting Manfred’s speech. Jerome then reveals to Manfred, as well as to Frederic’s knights, of Isabella’s flight from sanctuary. Manfred pretends that he himself sent Isabella to sanctuary in the first... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Manfred also gives orders for his men to search for Isabella. But this leaves Theodore’s tower unguarded, and Matilda takes the opportunity to rescue Theodore. The... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
...he arrives he discovers that Jerome is elsewhere and that Manfred’s men are searching for Isabella. Gallant and eager for an adventure to prove himself, he races to find Isabella first... (full context)
Lineage and Leadership Theme Icon
...that the knight is Frederic’s champion. After confirming that the woman in the cave is Isabella, the knight, believing that he is dying, reveals his secret identity: he is Frederic, Isabella’s... (full context)
Chapter 4
Humor, the Gothic, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
The Divine vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
...she is uncertain of his love for her because he arrived at the castle with Isabella, who is also clearly in love with Theodore. Wishing to spend more time with Matilda,... (full context)
The Divine vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
The next day, Matilda and Isabella decide to meet, as they are both in love with Theodore, who has come between... (full context)
The Divine vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Lineage and Leadership Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
...Frederic and Matilda in order to unite the claims of both lines. The two young princesses are horrified, especially Isabella, who hints at Manfred’s crimes and tells Hippolita that Manfred intends... (full context)
The Divine vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
Lineage and Leadership Theme Icon
...they are alone asks for his opinion about marriages between Matilda and Frederic, and between Isabella and Manfred, as well as her consent to a divorce. Though Hippolita finds both proposals... (full context)
Chapter 5
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
...to the castle, Manfred worries about what he is convinced is a love affair between Isabella and Theodore, but he nevertheless resolves to gain Isabella for himself. He uses every possible... (full context)
Class, Comedy, and Tragedy Theme Icon
...Frederic. On the way back to Frederic, though, he meets Bianca. Knowing that Bianca is Isabella’s and Matilda’s confidante, he tries to ascertain the exact nature of Isabella’s and Theodore’s relationship.... (full context)
The Divine vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
...Theodore and a lady are secretly meeting at Alfonso’s tomb in the church. Believing that Isabella rejected his sexual advances because of her eagerness to meet Theodore, Manfred decides to spy... (full context)
The Divine vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
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...toward the church to find her daughter but faints halfway there and is revived by Isabella and Frederic. In a gesture of daughterly devotion, Matilda clasps the hands of both her... (full context)
Humor, the Gothic, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
The Divine vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
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As Theodore mourns over the body, Isabella is walking Hippolita back to her room, when they meet Manfred in the court. Manfred,... (full context)
The Divine vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
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...convent to become a nun. Frederic relinquishes his own claim to Otranto, and offers Theodore Isabella’s hand in marriage. Because Theodore is still in mourning for Matilda, he is reluctant at... (full context)