Examine any of the following themes of the novels: Pride, Inordinate ambition, vanity, succession, and conflict etc.
THEME OF PRIDE
One peculiar circumstance which has affected Manfred’s life is “Pride” As the self-acclaimed prince of Otranto he fails to reconcile with his past. His father has done some unusual things to ascend the throne of Otranto. This deceit and its consequence are bequeathed to his son, Manfred. This man, Manfred is determined not to allow the heritage or Otranto to slip out of his family. Pride drives him to arrange a marriage between his son and Isabella the daughter of the Marquis of Vicenza unfortunately his son, Conrad dies on the wedding day. He decides to mar Isabella instead so as to legitimize his claim to the throne. He is willing to trade with Matilda, his daughter in exchange for Isabella’s pride makes him suspect that Theodore is in love with Isabella In other to achieve his goal, he must resign his dominions to the Marquis which he cannot because of pride. His pride and Jealousy drive him to kill his daughter in error thinking it was Isabella His tyranny is largely in view of his desire to retain the throne He is warned in many supernatural ways. At the end, the true stow of the throne is revealed and Theodore is confirmed as the true prince of Otranto.
THEME OF INORDINATE AMBITION
Ambition is an issue that drives the action of some characters in the novel. Richardo, the father of Manfred is an ambitious man. He follows Alfonso the Good on his trip to the holy land. Alfonso the Good, the prince of Otranto dies in questionable and mysterious circumstances and suddenly Richardo, his chamberlain and the grandfather of Manfred come with a fictitious will declaring him the heir to the late Alfonso. He is thereafter haunted by his guilt and for this; he made a vow to St. Nicholas to establish a church and two convents if he lives to return to Otranto. His sacrifice is accepted on condition that his ‘posterity should reign in Otranto until the rightful owner should be grown too large to inhabit the castle”.
Manfred, the grandson of Richardo now reigns as Prince of Otranto and spurred by inordinate ambition, he does not want the throne to leave his household. At the unripe age of fifteen, Conrad, his only son is to marry Isabella, Princess of Vicenza so us to perpetuate the dynasty. Fate twists the ambition. Conrad is crushed to death by a strange helmet, “a hundred times larger than any ever made for a human being”.
Not deterred, he pushed his luck further. He declares his desire to marry his son’s fiancée, Isabella so as to beget a son or suns for the heritage of Otranto. This eludes him as Theodore; the true heir of Otranto appears from the blues to claim his rightful heritage.
THEME OF VANITY
Life indeed is vanity. The castle of Otranto examines man’s futility. Richardo, the grandfather of Manfred is pushed by ambition to “usurp” the throne of Otranto, To retain the throne he poison his master, Prince Alfonso the Good and produces a fictitious will declaring himself heir to Alfonso. When he dies, his descendant, Manfred inherits the throne of Otranto. However desperation pushes him to do uncanny things. The quick arrangement of marriage between his fifteen year old son, Conrad and Isabella, Princess of Vicenza is a mere effort in futility as the boy dies a tragic death under a mysterious helmet. He tries to marry Isabella, his son’s wife but she escapes. All that he dues to succeed in his unholy desire is in vain. He even tries to divorce his wife, Hippolita to realize this dream of his.
Manfred condemns the young peasant, Theodore, for alluding to the helmet that killed Conrad as that on the statue of Alfonso. For this, Theodore is imprisoned waiting for execution hut fate saves him from the fury of undeserved death and Manfred’s wish becomes a vanity.
Again Manfred stirred by unfounded jealousy told that Theodore is talking with a woman in the church. He suspects it is Isabella whom he accuses of having a relaLioflsh1 with Theodore At the church, he confronts them and stab the woman. Unfortunately, he discovers that he has murdered his own daughter Matilda. What a vanity!
Theodore the Young peasant who proclaims hims0(f the true heir of Otranto not only is confirmed by the image of Alfonso he also marries Isabella the princess of Vicenza Thus the whole effort made by Manfred household to legalize their illegal claim to the throne of Otranto becomes an effort in futility.
QUEST FOR SUCCESSION
The entire Story of the Otranto revolves on the quest for succession. The mysterious death of Alfonso, Prince of Otranto leaves a vacuum that must be filled Richardo Alfonso chamberlain Who travels with him to the holy land is suspected to have Poisoned his master He presents a fictitious will declaring him the “Successor” to the throne of Otranto Knowing his level of guilt he vows to establish a church and two convents and his request seems to be granted though with strings attached
Manfred, his grandson later takes the throne and succeeds his father. He too is Very cons of succession For this reason, he arranges a quick marriage between his son, Conrad and Isabella His motive is to raise offspring for the succession of Otranto But man Proposes; God disposes Conrad dies a tragic death and Manfred who cannot have any Other child with Hippolita plans to divorce her and marry his son’s wife. This plan fails as Theodore, the Son of Father Jerome and the true heir to the throne is confirmed by the image of Alfonso himself as the successor to his throne.
In this story conflict is stirred by pride, jealousy and inordinate ambition Manfred desire to marry for his Young son is a product of an inner conflict bordering on succession to the throne of Otranto This leads to the boy’s untimely death as he tries to escape from the wedding arena; he is crushed to death under a strange helmet The same inner conflict of pride and ambition propels his father, Richardo to poison his master so as to succeed him as prince of Otranto Manfred plans to marry Isabella his son’s wife hut she is utterly bewildered and she escapes. Manfred is furious and seeks Isabella with rage. He disagrees with Matilda, his daughter over the fate of Hippolita who is about to he divorced to make way for his proposed marriage to Isabella. Manfred is also in conflict with Father Jerome and Theodore, the young peasant whom he wants to kill for announcing a resemblance between the tragic helmet and that on the statue of Alfonso.
Again, Theodore confronts the knight, Frederic at the entrance of the tunnel (vault) where he had gone to rescue Isabella. Both men fight and Theodore strikes a serious blow on Frederic with his sword, he is wounded. Ironically, Theodore finds out that the man he has wounded is the father of the lady he is trying to save.
When Manfred learns that the young peasant is in the church with a woman, Manfred who suspects the boy’s relationship with Isabella thinks that he must be talking with her. He goes to the church and in his blind fury; he stabs a woman whom he later finds to be his only surviving child and daughter Matilda. Indeed, the greater conflict lies between man and supernatural forces.