Manfred: A Conflicted Man Desperate for Power
In the Castle of Otranto, Manfred, the Prince of Otranto, is desperate to maintain his supremacy and knows that â€œ[his] fate depends on having sonsâ€; therefore, he does whatever it takes to fulfill this obligation (Walpole 15). On the surface, it may seem to be that Manfred is merely a diabolical character, with only one goal in mind. However, the dimensionality of his character goes far beyond just that, as portrayed through his own inner conflict and the external forces that motivate his actions.
The death of Manfredâ€™s son Conrad, Hippolitaâ€™s infertility and his illegitimate power are a number of external circumstances affecting Manfredâ€™s character. Marrying off his only son to Isabella was an attempt to keep a line of power in the family. Unfortunately, his untimely death prevented this from happening. Manfred knew that in order to sustain his control he ...view middle of the document...
What these women wanted seemed to be of no importance, unless their desires were in accord with Manfredâ€™s plans for authority.
Manfredâ€™s desperation is seemingly unreasonable because of the madness in the occurring events. When considering the cause of his desperation, however, there is a reason to believe in the sensibility of his nervousness. He is fully aware of how his grandfather acquired the throne and knows his reign is not only illegitimate, but will not continue without a rightful heir. Therefore, his desperation does not necessarily stem from personal aspirations alone, but rather from societal forces and inner conflict as well.
The pressure Manfred feels to legitimize his rule leads to an unhealthy obsession and persuades him to do so at all cost, abandoning any sort of logic, reason or semblance of religious virtue he may have. Manfredâ€™s behavior is a clear reflection of the debilitating influence the aristocratic system has on its people and its conflict with religion and virtue. â€œManfred was not one of those savage tyrants, who wanton in cruelty unprovokedâ€, however, the importance of having an heir and keeping a line of supremacy pure managed to outweigh that of being virtuous in all aspects of life (a quality valued by the people of this time), but not without the appearance of a serious internal conflict first (Walpole 23). So greatly influenced by this conflict, Manfred releases any religious virtues he has by claiming that neither â€œHeaven nor Hell shall impede [his] designâ€ and begins to corrupt himself while aiming to support legitimizing his authority (Walpole 16).
Taking this into consideration, itâ€™s as if Walpole is portraying Manfred as not being entirely villainous on his own, rather as a product of his circumstances. It is clear to see that his place in nobility has skewed his delicate sense of virtue and allowed for â€œhis passions [to] obscure his reasonâ€ (Walpole 23). Instead of being completely independent from these conflicts between aristocracy and virtue, Manfred is caught in the middle of them, unable to remain virtuous.
Walpole, Horace. The Castle of Otranto. Electronic Classics Series, 1998. Digital.