The Castle of Otranto
Answer all of the questions (you can use the internet to help you if you want but you need to find quotes from the text to support your answers).
1. What is the purpose of the preface to the first edition? Why did Walpole then choose to write a second preface later? Is the purpose and function of the second preface the same as that of the first? If not, what is different?
2. Does Walpole attempt to lend his novel a sense of realism? Does the author betray himself in any was by referring to the novel, in the second preface, as a “romance” (p. 19/43)? Or is the word “romance” used for some particular purpose?
3. Who is the protagonist? Who is the “hero”? Is there a hero in the usual sense?
4. Are the characters round or flat? Credible or not? Work out brief character sketches of the main characters, including observations about their psychological constitutions.
5. Does the novel have any controlling principle, any moral, intellectual, or philosophical theme?
–Is it sufficient for Walpole to say, in the assumed role of editor, that the novel’s moral is “the sins of the fathers are visited on their children”?
–Was the novel written, then, merely to expand and expound upon this moral?
6. Why did Walpole write the novel anyway? What’s his point? What was he trying to accomplish?
7. How does The Castle of Otranto appear to relate to “sentiment” and sentimental writing? What devices are employed to generate emotions of pity and terror (and/or others) in the audience? List some examples.
8. Is the novel best regarded as melodrama? Provide some evidence pro or con.
9. What are we to make of the conclusion? Is it all too neat, too formulaic, too convenient? What is the actual relationship of Theodore and Isabella at the end? Do they marry?
10. What is the point of all the twists, turns, and revelations in both plot and characters? How important are surprise and suspense to this sort of fiction?
11. What is the purpose of this novel (and others like it)? How does the Gothic novel generally seem to relate to the development of the English novel?
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