How Natural is the Supernatural
Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto makes frequent use of supernatural effects. The novel's uses of the supernatural are a perfect example of its predecessor status as the first gothic novel, as well as question the purpose for all of its supernatural occurrences. Is it God punishing those deserving of the sentence? Or is it all just a very big coincidence and in our characters’ imagination?
Most of the supernatural incidents in the novel are directed towards the themes of succession and inheritance. They revolve around the issue of establishing the rightful heir to the seat of Otranto. Because of the ...view middle of the document...
Other strange manifestations, such as the scene where Manfred is forcing himself onto Isabella and the ghost of his grandfather steps out of a portrait, may be relatable to the other literary themes of the novel. Yet, it cannot be overlooked that such scene could also be divine intervention. Seeing through the perspective of a Christian, as did many at that time and using only the text, one would know that God does what is necessary in order to get His people’s attention. He shipwrecks men and causes them to undergo complete transformations or go through many problems (Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe) so that they remember not to stray away, nor disobey. After the death of his son, Manfred realizes he can still potentially secure his lordship if he marries Isabella. Still, not heeding His warning, Manfred disobeys. He is surprised at his grandfather's ghost's evident disapproval of his plans, responding "if thou art my grandsire, why dost thou conspire against thy wretched descendant" (p.26). Manfred's response hints...