Comparative essay on the novels Castle of Otranto and The Wasp Factory

Essay by m27khanUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, November 2004

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Both The Castle of Otranto and The Wasp Factory depict the sins of the past catching up to the present. While Horace Walpole does so to demonstrate that we have no control over our fate, Iain Banks does so to argue that we do control our destiny. In Castle of Otranto, the main characters' fates are controlled by the sins of the past, which are represented by supernatural forces. Conversely, in Wasp Factory, when Frank finds out his true identity, he is freed from the sins of his family's past.

In Castle of Otranto, supernatural forces become the embodiment of the past's control over the present. These forces demonstrate the powerlessness of the characters, as they are "manipulated by forces they only dimly comprehend" (Walpole, XV). There are many incidents of supernatural forces that weigh heavily on the present. Specifically, the prophecy stated at the beginning of the novel, the giant apparitions, and Alfonso's appearance at the end of the novel.

The ancient prophecy that warns "that the castle and lordship of Otranto should pass from the present family whenever real owner should be grown too large to inhabit it" (17), is probably the most obvious representation of the past's control over the present. Only Manfred fully understands the importance of the prophecy that hangs over his family, and the plot of the novel is propelled by his frantic attempts to circumvent the inevitable outcome (XIX).

Manfred's entire mindset has been tainted by the prophecy and what he believes is his fate for usurping the title King of Otranto. He states that one of his main reasons for not resigning his title is his reliance on "ancient prophesies, which had pointed out a possibility of his preserving the title to his posterity" (99).

The most telling supernatural indication that Manfred...