Prof. Westengard | O628 | Fall 2022

Dolma Tsering

By “normative … configurations of human interaction” he means, in these fictions, the idea of “normal” is continuously being challenged. In the Castle of Otranto, one abnormality was Prince Manfred, who I would say has an unusual way of thinking. He was trying to marry the girl who was brought to marry his son (who died from a Helmet), and on top of that, he already has a wife and a daughter. I think his desire to have more offspring to keep his legitimacy, overpowered him and helped him make rash decisions which eventually led him to mistakenly kill his own daughter. 

“The lower part of the castle was hollowed into several intricate cloisters; and it was not easy for one under so much anxiety to find the door that opened into the cavern. An awful silence reigned throughout those subterraneous regions, except now and then some blasts of wind that shook the doors she had passed, and which, grating on the rusty hinges, were re-echoed through that long labyrinth of darkness. Every murmur struck her with new terror; yet more she dreaded to hear the wrathful voice of Manfred urging his domestics to pursue her.”

In chapter 1, when Isabella is running away from Manfred and trying to leave the castle, the sexual anxiety of the victimized Isabella can be felt as the castle itself was trapping her making the scene dramatic and thrilling. The doors shaking from the gusts of wind and making noises from the rusty hinges while she walked caused her more terror. While Manfred is searching for her to marry her against her will, she must find her way out. The structure of the castle with the intricate cloisters does not help Isabella in finding her exit nor does it help her anxiety.  

One contemporary example of fiction that creates the effects is the show “House of Dragons” from HBO Max. This show includes irregular ways of living and the existence of imaginary creatures such as dragons and specific people who control them. This show also includes prophecies and visions creating terror and mystery.


  1. adelisaredzematovic

    Hi Dolma, I agree with your statement that the idea of normal is being challenged in Otranto. There are many instances where we see a situation blown out of proportion and are surprised at the actions.

  2. Laura Westengard

    Great analysis of the castle! I haven’t seen “House of Dragons,” but it sounds like it could be very Gothic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *