Castles are a staple of Gothic literature, their formidable and intricate structure representative of gothic themes. In The Castle of Otranto, a story centered around a particular castle, the castle represents evil in the form of sexual deviancy and the corruption of power. It is in the castle’s eerie rooms and dark passageways that Manfred pursues Isabella, intending to rape her. This sexual violence is also incestuous — Isabella is not only Manfred’s de facto daughter but also his contracted daughter-in-law, engaged to his son. Further, as Manfred’s and Hippolita’s home, the castle represents another dimension of incest through Manfred’s claim that his marriage to Hippolita is itself incestuous.
The castle also serves as the locus for wealth and power, and the corruption that often accompanies power. The very walls of the castle represent how rulership of Otranto has been usurped by Manfred’s family, as the castle is haunted by the restless ghosts of Alfonso and Ricardo. And when Manfred himself falls from power, so too do the walls of the castle.
Castle of Otranto Quotes in The Castle of Otranto
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.