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 “[his] fate depends on having sons”; 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 Manfred’s son Conrad, Hippolita’s infertility and his illegitimate power are a number of external circumstances affecting Manfred’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 must have something he no longer has – an heir. With panic set in, Manfred becomes desperate and employs a number of grand schemes in an effort to protect what he feels is his.
Within his own struggle to preserve power, those closest to him are made to be nothing more than objects in his master plan. Hippolita was left without a son or husband, due to “[cursing Manfred] by her unfruitfulness”, Isabella was forced into escaping an unwanted marriage and Matilda, Manfred’s daughter, was used as a bargaining tool for winning Isabella’s hand in Marriage (Walpole, 15). What these women wanted seemed to be of no importance, unless their desires were in accord with Manfred’s plans for authority.
Manfred’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....