Saturday, August 17, 2019


Amy Reid English 5720: Franta 09/27/12 The Contradiction in Women’s Roles in Castle of Otranto While each character in Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto seem to have their own dispositions that fuel the story, these dispositions also create a pattern intrinsic to gender. The males of the story are powerful and oppressive to their female counterparts. In contrast, the women remain devoted and submissive. Although it may seem that Walpole is trying to degrade women by use of male domination, he is actually focusing on the importance of the female role in the derivation of male power.Manfred, the prince of Otranto is at a loss as his only son Conrad dies and there is no longer anyone to pass the royal blood to another generation. After this event takes place Manfred exemplifies his character as being engrossed with power. In an attempt to produce another heir to the thrown he is determined to divorce his wife and marry Isabella. â€Å"Hippolita is no longer my wife; I di vorce her from this hour. Too long has she cursed me by her unfruitfulness: my fate depends on having sons,-and this night I trust will give a new date to my hopes (25). While Manfred’s wife has been nothing but devoted to her husband and is filled with sorrow after she hears of his plans, he remains to lack sympathy or concerns for his wife’s desires. Isabella is also at left in a position without a voice of her own; she must marry Manfred. Against Manfred’s insistence that Isabella marry him, she flees to avoid marrying such a terrible man. While fleeing Manfred Isabella begins to discover how she can use her femininity in her own power. Her gentleness had never raised her an enemy, and conscious innocence made her hope that, unless sent by the prince’s order to seek her, his servants would rather assist than prevent her flight (28). † In many instances, characteristics of femininity are viewed as weaknesses to the female characters in the novel. In this instance, Isabella’s characteristics that are associated with her identity as a female are used in an opposing way.To be gentle and innocent may be deemed as weaknesses but in this circumstance she is able to use these traits advantageously to escape and overthrow the prince’s nonconsensual plans of marriage. Without the presence of Isabella the price is powerless, as he cannot produce an heir without her presence. Walpole enforces the idea that men receive their power from women and without the presence of women they are powerless. Again this idea is present when focused on the relationship between Matilda and her father Manfred.The father daughter relationship which they share is one in which Matilda is oppressed and is at a lack of affection. Manfred even displays directly to Matilda his dissatisfaction with her being his daughter and not his son. When Matilda arrives at his door to comfort him and aid in his grievances at the loss of his son, he exclaims, à ¢â‚¬Å"Begone, I do not want a daughter (23). † He continues to deny Matilda any affection or acknowledgement and eventually ends up murdering her mistakenly thinking she is Isabella. Meanwhile, it is discovered that the Theodore is the true prince and the one to produce an heir.If Matilda would have married Theodore it is more than likely that they would have conceived a child that would now be the heir. While Manfred never acknowledged Matilda until the time of her death, he now acknowledges that the prophecy is proven true; the lordship will not be passed from his present family but instead to its real owner. In the end Matilda was Manfred’s last hope in passing on the lordship. Matilda’s death marks Manfred’s complete fall from power, as the passing of the lordship to the next generation is now impossible.

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