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Horace Warpole’s The Castle Of Otranto Compared To Oedipus Rex

1924 words - 8 pages

Romance, murder, superstition, ghosts, darkness, religion, and castles are some of the features of the paradigm of the Gothic genre in literature. Horace Warpole’s The Castle of Otranto was the first Gothic novel and the above aspects, which he used as tropes, defines the genre. The story of The Castle of Otranto follows the downfall of the protagonist, Manfred, beginning with him as a Prince, then having to sign his abdication and working at a convent. Prophecy, incest, irony, usurpation, dethroning, and murder are some of the themes that appear in both Horace Warpole’s The Castle of Otranto and Oedipus The King by Sophocles. The Castle of Otranto opens with the death of Conrad, the male heir and son of Prince Manfred, and thus begins Manfred’s blind tyranny to attempt to keep the throne. Within this narrative there are echoes and direct parallels to the story Oedipus The King, thus The Castle of Otranto a rewriting of the Oedipus story.
Dramatic irony is pivotal to the success of a tragedy, as it leaves the characters completely blind to the truth which the reader or audience already knows. In The Castle of Otranto, there are moments of dramatic irony, situational irony, and verbal irony. In the very beginning of the play the reader assumes that Conrad, Manfred’s son and future heir, will have a big part in the narrative. The twist is that Conrad dies before he even utters a word in a story that initially alludes to be about him. He does make it to the nuptials that Manfred has hastened upon and instead meets his doom. Another instance of dramatic irony is when he follows who he believes to be Isabella with Theodore. Manfred makes an ill-fated mistake when he decides to draw his dagger on someone who turns out to be his daughter. The dramatic irony truly makes the narrative tragic elements come alive, because the reader experiences he shock when the truth is revealed to the character. Manfred displays verbal irony after Conrad’s death, he says to the servants, “Take care of the Lady Isabella” (15). Manfred has not flinched at the fact that his son is dead neither has he thought about his wife or daughter. The reader questions why Manfred sees about Isabella instead of his wife. True, Manfred may anticipate the pain Isabella may feel since her betrothed has dies, yet, he should still be more concerned with his family than with Isabella. Instead, Manfred has already begun setting up his other plan. Matilda’s fatal end is also laced with irony. Hippolita is the one who had bid Matilda to seek guidance from Alfonso’s tomb: “[M]y mother sent me to intercede for thee, for her” (149). Matilda meets a tragic end, and ironically it would appear that Hippolita propelled such demise. Irony underlies the actions of Manfred and most certainly Oedipus. Oedipus The King is filled with dramatic irony, and the plot is centered on the idea of him attempting to find a killer that resides in himself—how ironic!
In The Castle of Otranto,...

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