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The Castle Of Otranto Summary

Sandra Watson
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The Castle of Otranto Summary, Character List and Themes
The Castle of Otranto tells the story of Prince Manfred and his family, which includes his wife
(Hippolita) and his children (Conrad and Matilda). The story begins on the wedding day of
Manfred’s son, Conrad, and the Princess Isabella. The wedding does not take place, however,
for Conrad is crushed to death by a giant helmet moments before the event. Among the crowd
is a handsome young peasant named Theodore, who muses that the helmet is like the one from
the statue of Otranto’s founder, Alfonso. Though he has no reason to truly suspect Theodore of
Conrad’s death, Manfred makes a big to-do about the peasant’s putative guilt, and imprisons
him under the helmet.
The death of his son terrifies Manfred that a prophecy that the castle will pass on from their
family is beginning to come true. Manfred plots to divorce his wife, Hippolita, on the grounds that
she has failed to bear him a proper heir (he also claims they are related) and marry Isabella
himself. Even though strange things begin to happen in the castle, Manfred is not deterred.
When Manfred tells this to Isabella, she is horrified and flees into a passage beneath the castle.
There she meets Theodore, newly escaped from the helmet; he aids her in escaping to a
nearby convent.
The search for Isabella continues until Manfred confronts Theodore in the vault of the castle.
Theodore says he has no knowledge of Isabella, but Manfred’s pride and rage persist. Matilda
hears Theodore’s woeful singing and speaks to him briefly, admiring his piety and wondering if
she can help him.
Father Jerome arrives from the convent and assures Manfred of Isabella’s safety, but he adds
that Manfred’s plan to divorce his wife and marry the young girl offends Heaven. Manfred orders
the execution of Theodore. As Theodore removes his shirt, Jerome recognizes the mark below
his shoulder and identifies him as his own son, lost for years. Theodore, then, is the heir to
Jerome, who was once the count of Falconara before his house was ruined and he turned to
religion. Jerome begs for his son’s life, and Manfred offers to spare him in exchange for the
release of Isabella.
They are interrupted as a herald enters, proclaiming that a great knight has arrived to rescue
Isabella. The wily Manfred invites the mysterious knight, whose face is not seen, to palaver. The
conversation ends and the search for Isabella recommences. In the meantime, Matilda frees
Theodore from his imprisonment and helps him arm himself and flee the castle. Theodore finds
Isabella in the woods and hides her in a cave, vowing to protect her. The great knight arrives
and demands the girl, but Theodore, thinking he is an ally of Manfred’s, engages him in battle.
Wounded seriously, the knight says he is Frederic, Isabella’s father who was presumed dead in
the Holy Land. Isabella weeps over him, and Theodore helps her take him back to the castle.



The Castle Of Otranto Summary

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