“He was persuaded he could know no happiness but in the society of one with whom he could for ever indulge the melancholy that had taken possession of his soul.”
The Castle of Otranto is a macabre tale that revolves around a haunted castle. Manfred, the lord of Otranto, finds his son, Conrad, smashed by an enormous helmet on his wedding day. It is soon revealed that according to an ancient ambiguous prophecy Conrad's death might have been an ominous event that signifies the end of his lordship. To rectify the situation Manfred decides to marry his son's bride despite having a wife. Will Manfred plot succeed? Is he indeed a true prince of the castle?
Walpole got the inspiration for this bizarre story from a dream. He gave his novel a very authentic embellishment using the plan of Strawberry Hill castle for the set in the novel. He also went as far as to make a believable spoof in the Preface to the first edition that the novel was recovered and translated from an old Italian manuscript. Not as culturally present and talked about a title as other Gothic classics like Frankenstein or Dracula, Otranto became the cornerstone text of the genre. The echoings of Otranto are even noticeable in more contemporary gothic tales such as Toni Morrison's Beloved where a building is more than a location but an entire mysterious entity in itself.