The Castle of Otranto

Manfred Character Analysis

The story’s antagonist, Manfred is the ruler of Otranto, the grandson of the man who usurped Otranto from its former rulers. He is husband to Hippolita, and father to Matilda and Conrad. Quick to anger, clumsily manipulative, and at times illogical, he constantly prioritizes his lust for both power and Isabella over any faith or morals he may have. The story presents his overwhelming desire for power as indicative of both his, and his entire familial line’s, unsuitability for rulership. Fearing an ancient prophecy about the end of his reign, seeks first to secure his family’s rulership of Otranto by marrying his son Conrad to his ward Isabella, who through her father has a rightful claim. After Conrad dies, Manfred hunts for Isabella throughout the castle in order to produce a new heir who would have a rightful claim to rule. Despite his existing marriage to Hippolita, the fact that Isabella is his own ward, and Father Jerome’s admonitions, he seeks a divorce and almost manages to secure Isabella’s hand in marriage from her father Frederic. When his plans fail and he attempts to murder Isabella, he accidentally kills his own daughter. In shock at having murdered Matilda, he undergoes a drastic personal change: he repents, reveals that he is not the rightful ruler of Otranto, and retires to a convent as a monk.

Manfred Quotes in The Castle of Otranto

The The Castle of Otranto quotes below are all either spoken by Manfred or refer to Manfred. 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

The Castle and Lordship of Otranto should pass from the present family whenever the real owner should be grown too large to inhabit it.

Related Characters: Manfred, Theodore, Alfonso
Related Symbols: Castle of Otranto, The Giant Suit of Armor
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

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She was, however, just going to beg admittance, when Manfred suddenly opened the door; and, as it was now twilight, concurring with the disorder of his mind, he did not distinguish the person, but asked angrily, who it was? Matilda replied, trembling, “My dearest father, it is I, your daughter.” Manfred, stepping back hastily, cried, “Begone! I do not want a daughter”; and flinging back abruptly, clapped the door against the terrified Matilda.

Related Characters: Manfred (speaker), Matilda (speaker)
Page Number: Book Page 32
Explanation and Analysis:

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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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That excellent lady, who no more than Manfred doubted the reality of the vision, yet affected to treat it as a delirium of the servant. Willing, however, to save her lord from any additional shock, and prepared by a series of grief not to tremble at any accession to it, she determined to make herself the first sacrifice, if fate had marked the present hour for their destruction.

Related Characters: Manfred, Hippolita, Diego
Related Symbols: The Giant Suit of Armor
Page Number: 44
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

“O that dear mother! yes, Bianca, ‘tis there I feel the rugged temper of Manfred. I can support his harshness to me with patience; but it wounds my soul when I am witness to his causeless severity towards her.” “Oh! madam,” said Bianca, “all men use their wives so, when they are weary of them.” “And yet your congratulated me but now,” said Matilda, “when you fancied my father intended to dispose of me!” “I would have you a great lady,” replied Bianca, “come what will. I do not wish to see you moped in a convent, as you would be if you had your will, and if my lady, your mother, who knows that a bad husband is better than no husband at all, did not hinder you—”

Related Characters: Matilda (speaker), Bianca (speaker), Manfred, Hippolita
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Father,” interrupted Manfred, “I pay due reverence to your holy profession; but I am sovereign here, and will allow no meddling priest to interfere in the affairs of my domestic. If you have aught to say, attend me to my chamber—I do not use to let my wife be acquainted with the secret affairs of my state; they are not within a woman’s province.”

Related Characters: Manfred (speaker), Father Jerome, Hippolita
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Holy father,” said Hippolita, “it is your office to be no respecter of persons: you must speak as your duty prescribes—but it is my duty to hear nothing that it pleases not my lord I should hear.”

Related Characters: Hippolita (speaker), Manfred, Father Jerome
Page Number: 53-43
Explanation and Analysis:

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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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Matilda disengaged herself from her women, stole up to the black tower, and unbolting the door, presented herself to the astonished Theodore. “Young man,” said she, “though filial duty and womanly modesty condemn the step I am taking, yet holy charity, surmounting all other ties, justifies this act. Fly, the doors of thy prison are open: my father and his domestics are absent, but they may soon return.”

Related Characters: Matilda (speaker), Manfred, Theodore
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

“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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“Come, come,” resumed the friar, “inconsiderate youth, this must not be; eradicate this guilty passion from thy breast.”—“Guilty passion!” cried Theodore, “Can guilt dwell with innocent beauty and virtuous modesty?”—“It is sinful,” replied the friar, “to cherish those whom heaven has doomed to destruction. A tyrant’s race must be swept from the earth to the third and fourth generation.”

Related Characters: Theodore (speaker), Father Jerome (speaker), Manfred, Matilda
Page Number: 89-90
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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Chapter 5 Quotes

That prince had discovered so much passion for Matilda, that Manfred hoped to obtain all he wished by holding out or withdrawing his daughter’s charms, according as the marquis should appear more or less disposed to co-operate in his views.

Related Characters: Manfred, Frederic, Matilda
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

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The moment Theodore appeared, the walls of the castle behind Manfred were thrown down with a mighty force, and the form of Alfonso, dilated to an immense magnitude, appeared in the centre of the ruins. “Behold in Theodore the true heir of Alfonso!” said the vision: and having pronounced these words, accompanied by a clap of thunder, it ascended solemnly towards Heaven, where, the clouds parting asunder, the form of St. Nicholas was seen, and receiving Alfonso’s shade, they were soon wrapt from mortal eyes in a blaze of glory.

Related Characters: Alfonso (speaker), Manfred, Theodore
Related Symbols: Castle of Otranto, The Giant Suit of Armor
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Thou guiltless, but unhappy woman! unhappy by my crimes!” replied Manfred, “my heart, at last, is open to thy devout admonitions. Oh! could—but it cannot be—ye are lost in wonder—let me at last do justice on myself! To heap shame on my own head is all the satisfaction I have left to offer to offended Heaven. My story has drawn down these judgements: let my confession atone—but ah! what can atone for usurpation, and a murdered child! a child murdered in a consecrated place!—List, sirs, and may this bloody record be a warning to future tyrants!

Related Characters: Manfred (speaker), Matilda, Hippolita
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:

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Manfred Character Timeline in The Castle of Otranto

The timeline below shows where the character Manfred 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
Manfred, the prince of Otranto, has two children, a beautiful, virginal 18-year-old daughter Matilda, whom he... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Manfred, at first speechless, seems less upset by the death of his favorite child and more... (full context)
Lineage and Leadership Theme Icon
Class, Comedy, and Tragedy Theme Icon
In the court, all of Manfred’s attention is on the giant helmet. When a young peasant observes its similarity to the... (full context)
Lineage and Leadership Theme Icon
Class, Comedy, and Tragedy Theme Icon
...returned from the church, confirming that Alfonso’s statue was missing its helmet. Panicked and enraged, Manfred accuses the young peasant of killing Conrad through witchcraft and orders his men to imprison... (full context)
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Hippolita, who has regained her consciousness, is now entirely focused on Manfred’s wellbeing and orders Matilda to watch over him. Matilda, ever the dutiful daughter, obeys, despite... (full context)
Lineage and Leadership Theme Icon
Gender and Marriage Theme Icon
Not wanting to upset her mother, Matilda returns to Hippolita with news that Manfred is well. A servant arrives, summoning Isabella to speak with Manfred in the gallery. When... (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 worry, that she... (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 the giant helmet through the window. Though... (full context)
Humor, the Gothic, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...her initial instinct, she decides not to go to Hippolita, as she suspects both that Manfred would find her there and that he would kill Hippolita. Remembering an underground passage leading... (full context)
Humor, the Gothic, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Class, Comedy, and Tragedy Theme Icon
...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 a trap-door, but soon hear the... (full context)
Humor, the Gothic, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Class, Comedy, and Tragedy Theme Icon
While Manfred contemplates pardoning the peasant, two servants, Diego and Jaquez, arrive in fear. With some difficulty... (full context)
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The narrator then flashes back to Manfred in the moments immediately after Isabella escaped him. Manfred, searching for Isabella in Hippolita’s room,... (full context)
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Back in the present, Manfred meets Hippolita and her chaplain in the gallery. Hippolita, who had been informed by Diego... (full context)
Chapter 2
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...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, Bianca, fills her in on the latest gossip... (full context)
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When Bianca speculates about Manfred’s desire for grandsons, the two women have a discussion about marriage, in which Bianca claims... (full context)
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...stranger asks about the missing princess, Matilda becomes suspicious that he is spying on her father and ends the conversation. (full context)
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...sanctuary at St. Nicholas’s church and that Father Jerome of the church is now informing Manfred, who is in Hippolita’s room. The narrator jumps to the interaction between Jerome and Manfred,... (full context)
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Jerome then passes along a message from Isabella to both Manfred and Hippolita, affirming her compassion for Conrad’s loss and her respect for them both as... (full context)
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Now in his own room, Manfred has a private discussion with Jerome and claims that his attempt to rape Isabella was... (full context)
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Realizing that his line of argument isn’t working, Manfred backtracks and claims that his desire to divorce Hippolita stems instead from his tortured conscience... (full context)
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Seething over the false information Jerome gave him, Manfred has the peasant brought from his room to the great hall for questioning. As Manfred... (full context)
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...danger. Remorseful, he confesses to fabricating a relationship between Isabella and Theodore, which further angers Manfred. As Theodore kneels down to be executed, his shirt slips over his shoulder and uncovers... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Shaken by the helmet’s moving feathers, Manfred seeks an explanation from Jerome, who says that Manfred has angered heaven and must submit... (full context)
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Once Jerome is ushered out and Manfred imprisons Theodore in a tower, the herald announces the reason for his arrival: on behalf... (full context)
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...host of knights and servants with him, as well as a gigantic sabre, or sword. Manfred claims he will fight Frederic’s champion the next day and presents a façade of hospitality,... (full context)
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At that moment, Jerome and his fellow friars arrive at the castle, interrupting Manfred’s speech. Jerome then reveals to Manfred, as well as to Frederic’s knights, of Isabella’s flight... (full context)
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Manfred also gives orders for his men to search for Isabella. But this leaves Theodore’s tower... (full context)
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...he is free, but when 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... (full context)
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...Theodore, unaware of the arrival of Frederic’s knights, believes that this man is working for Manfred and badly wounds him. Only then does Theodore discover that the knight is Frederic’s champion.... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Manfred arrives and is shocked to see an armor-clad Theodore, whom he mistakes for Alfonso. When... (full context)
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...who believes that Otranto will fall into Frederic’s hands, announces that she has proposed to Manfred a marriage between Frederic and Matilda in order to unite the claims of both lines.... (full context)
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...from the earth to the third and fourth generation.” Unused to having to obey a father’s orders, though, Theodore finds himself unable to stop loving Matilda. Hippolita asks Jerome to dismiss... (full context)
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While Hippolita is conversing with Jerome, up at the castle Manfred is proposing to Frederic that they marry each other’s daughters. Frederic, tempted by the prospects... (full context)
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Manfred then immediately seeks out Hippolita, who is still talking to Jerome at the church. As... (full context)
Chapter 5
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On their way back to the castle, Manfred worries about what he is convinced is a love affair between Isabella and Theodore, but... (full context)
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...of Isabella’s and Theodore’s relationship. However, after a long, rambling, and unsatisfactory response from Bianca, Manfred knows little more than he did before. Still, he bribes Bianca with a jewel to... (full context)
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Frederic, having learned of Manfred’s treacherous spying, now decides not to go through with the double wedding. Manfred, however, tries... (full context)
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...Matilda but leaving Hippolita with little explanation. Heading for his own room, he runs into Manfred, who wants to celebrate with him. But Frederic, still shaken by the apparition, brushes off... (full context)
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Furious at these rejections, Manfred becomes all the more enraged when his spy at the church informs him that Theodore... (full context)
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The monks and Theodore are bringing Matilda to the castle, with Manfred following behind in despair. Hippolita, who had heard the news, rushes toward the church to... (full context)
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...mourns over the body, Isabella is walking Hippolita back to her room, when they meet Manfred in the court. Manfred, who was on his way to see Matilda, realizes that his... (full context)