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1-2  Reading and Analyzing of Non-African Poetry: “The Birches” by Robert Frost

3-5  Reading and Textual Analysis of Non-African Drama: She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith.

6-8  Reading and Analyzing African Poetry: “Vanity” by BiragoDiop.

8-10  Reading and Textual Analysis of Non-African Prose: The Castle ofOtranto by Harace Walpole.



  • She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith.
  • Exam Reflection Literature- in-English by Sunday OlatejuFaniyi.
  • Exam Reflection Literature-in-English (Prose and Drama) by Sunday OlatejuFaniyi.
  • The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole.






Content Analysis

The poem, “Birches” by Frost is a dramatic monologue that highlights the poet persona’s observation of the trees, birches. He recognises that the ‘birches bend to left and right/Across the lines of straighter darker trees’. From his intuition, he had imagined that the bend is as a result of ‘some boy’s been swinging them.’ But on a second note, he sees that this kind of bend is different in ‘But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay/As ice-storm do.’ What had been the workings of some boys in a pleasurable manner has been left for snow rain to subdue. Due to the change brought in by technology and science, the poet speaker observes that the birches have been left alone for ice storms to deal with. He reveals how snows have forcefully bent the birches into sharps that they find it difficult to ‘right themselves’. He says ‘You may see their trunks arching in the woods/Years afterwards,’ which explains how the negligence of the society has promoted battering of nature in form of trees. But through the aid of flashback, the poet speaker hints on the position in ‘I should prefer to have some boy bend them/As he went out and in to fetch the cows’. From his desire, we realised how his boyhood experience had been in great affinity with swinging on birches in a pastoral setting. He establishes a dichotomy between the lifestyle and interest of the boy in a pastoral setting and modern setting by saying, ‘Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,/Whose only play was what he found himself,/Summer or winter, and could play alone.’ He highlights the excitement that dictates the manner in which ‘One by one he subdued his father’s trees/By riding them down over and over again/Until he took the stiffness out of them’. In the subsequent lines, he shows us the degree of dexterity deployed by some boy ‘to conquer’ the birches. In his words, ‘He always kept his poise/To the top branches, climbing carefully/With the same pains you use to fill a cup/Up to the brim, and even above the brim.’ However, the poet persona makes us to understand that he wishes to return to such experiences of his boyhood days in ‘So was I one a swinger of birches/And so I dream of going back to be.’ He goes further to inform that his desire is stirred by frustration with his present modern society as stated in ‘it’s when I’m weary of considerations/And life is too much like a pathless wood/Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs/Broken across it’. The disappointment recorded in the modern world or society forces him to cry, ‘I’d like to get away from earth awhile/And then come back to it and begin over.’ He calls for a respite from the notion of survival of the fittest which governs how things are run. In order to always ease oneself of the suffocating nature of life of the modern world, he reiterates in the lines: ‘I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree/And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk/Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more/But dipped its top and set me down again/That would be good both going and coming back.’ He reaffirms, ‘One could do worse than be a swinger of birches’ to be completely free like nature.



  1. Give a detailed content analysis of the poem, “Birches”.
  2. Examine the poem, “Birches” as a romantic work.



    1. “Here comes the princess, now heaven walls on earth”, illustrates the use of A. contrast. B. metaphor. C. metonymy. D. meiosis
    2. An ode is usually a poem written for A. condemnation. B. celebration. C. instruction.

      D. entertainment.

    3. The main character in a literary work is the A. antagonist. B. protagonist. C. narrator.

      D actor.

    4. A sonnet may be divided into an octave and A. tercet. B. quatrain. C. sestet. D. septet.
    5. “All hands on deck” is an example of A. metaphor. B personification. C. synecdoche

      D. simile



    Read the content analysis of the poem in Exam Focus and summarise it.




    Poetic Devices

    Dramatic Monologue: We notice through the use of the first person pronoun ‘I’ and the second person pronoun ‘You’, the poet has through the device dramatic monologue unveil his thought on how the birches have been neglected in the hands of ice storms to bend. Through it, dramatically recaps what his boyhood experience looked like as he is left to swing on birches. Through is also, his frustration is noted as he confesses ‘It’s when I’m weary of considerations/And life is too much like a pathless wood’.

    Simile: In order to draw the attention of his readers to his intended point of view, the poet speaker deploys simile in ‘… trailing their leaves on ground/Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair’ to describe the way the leaves of long forgotten birches bent by ice storms. Also, to communicate his displeasure with affairs of the present society, he says, ‘And life is too much like a pathless wood’.

    Imagery: Right from the opening of the poem where the poet recounts, ‘When I see birches bend to left and right/Across the lines of straighter darker trees,’ we recorded the use of imagery. With this device, readers could visualise even the boyhood experience of the poet speaker and internalise his perception of birches. And this device is seen to run through the poem in complementary effort to dramatic monologue.

    Personification: This device is employed in the line, ‘But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay/As ice-storms do.’ As humans, ice-storms bend these birches. Also, in ‘As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored’, the poet speaker personifies the human attribute of rising and turning on breeze.

    Onomatopoeia: To fasten the reception and retention of meaning, the poet decides to engage onomatopoeia. Such words like ‘click’, ‘cracks’, ‘crazes’, ‘crystal’, ‘shattering’, ‘tickle’ and ‘lashed’ are utilised as their sound help create meaning.



    The simplicity and blissfulness of nature: Due to the complexities and bewilderment that characterise his present modern society, the poet speaker reveals his secret desires as he says, ‘I’d like to get away from earth awhile’. This is because for him ‘… life is too much like a pathless wood/Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs/Broken across it’. The bastardised spate of the modern society which is divulged of the touch of nature and known for its suffocating tendencies has ignited the quest for his youthful days characterised by the presence of nature in the lines, ‘So was I once myself a swinger of birches/And so I dream of going back to be.’ He says this, not without extending a reason for such move: ‘It’s when I’m weary of considerations’. Furthermore, the simplicity of nature can be viewed from the lines, ‘Some boy too far from town to learn baseball/Whose only play was what he found himself/Summer or winter, and could play alone.’ Even alone, playing with nature is blissful.


    The theme of innocence and purity: The poet persona through the lines of the poem highlights innocency and purity in the attitude of the boy with the birches. No wonder he says, ‘I should prefer to have some boy bend them’. This is because the boy does not bend them that they find it difficult to right themselves. In ‘You may see their trunks arching in the woods/Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground,’ it is observed that the ice storms are mindless of what happens to the birches. Unlike the reckless attitude of the players of the modern society, the concern of the pastoral society is affirmed in ‘He always kept his poise/To the top branches, climbing carefully/With the same pains you use to fill a cup/Up to the brim, and even above the brim.’ His innocence and purity is heightened by his request to fate not to misinterpret his words or desires as noted in ‘I’d like to get away from earth awhile/And then come back to it and begin over/May no fate wilfully misunderstand me/And half grant what I wish and snatch me away/Not to return.’



  3. Highlight on the theme of peaceful co-existence in the poem, “Birches”
  4. Comment on the poetic devices used in the poem, “Birches”



    1. A speech in a play in which a character speaks his or her thought alone is A. a monologue. B. an aside. C. a soliloquy. D. an epilogue.
    2. In Literature, repetition is used essentially for A. rhyme. B. suspense. C. allusion.

      D. emphasis.

    3. The pattern of a poem without reference to its content is referred to as the A. limerick.

      B. metre.C. free verse. D. form

    4. The performers in a play constitute the A. chorus. B. character. C. audience. D. cast.
    5. A metrical foot in which a stressed syllable is following by an unstressed syllable is

      A. iambic.B. spondaic.C. trochaic D. dactylic.



  5. Comment on the issue of unhealthy rivalry in the poem, “Birches”
  6. Assess the diction of the poem, “Birches”






    The plot of this play centres on the misunderstandings encountered by Marlow on his way to the home of MrHardcastle where he intends to meet with his proposed wife. Sir

    Charles Marlow had made plans for his son to marry a daughter of his friend, MrHardcastle. He sends Marlow in company of his friend, Hastings, to Hardcastle’s house as advance team with the hope of joining them later. The visitors missed their way. They meet Tony Lumpkin, a member of the Hardcastle’s family. He is aware of their mission but mischievously directs them wrongly because he has an axe to grind with the step-father.He directs them to the house as an inn. In the supposed inn, Marlow and Hastings behave in a different manner. Mr and MrsHardcatle are disappointed at the behaviour exhibited bytheir much cherished future son-in-law. But Kate has a different opinion of Marlow. She has related with Marlow in two capacities within the short time they had stayed in the inn. Marlow is flirtatious with her when she disguise as a barmaid.


    Meanwile, Constance Nelly, MrsHardcastle’s cousin, discovers the mistake of Marlow and Hastings. They thought they are in an inn. Kate Nelly and Hastings conspire to keep the information from Marlow. Nelly is in love with Hastings and plans to elope with him. But MrsHardcastlewas grooming her for her son, Tony. This is because she wants the jewels of Nelly to remain in the family. Tony does not like the idea. He offers to help Hastings elope with Nelly. He steals the jewels from her mother’s drawers and gives it to Hastings. Hastings gives the stolen jewels to Marlow for safe keeping but he mistakenly gives it to a servant who gives to MrsHardcastle. The situation is messed up when Hastings’ letter about the elopement plan gets to MrsHardcastle. She is angry and decides to take Nelly to her aunt in London. Tony foils the plan by driving round the house. With Nelly, Hastings decides to appeal to MrHardcastle. Marlow is still ignorant of the relationship between him and Kate. At the end of the play, the mistake of a night is revealed as Sir Charles and Hardcastle come to the rescue.



  7. Considered the drama as a mistake of a night.
  8. Analyze the plot of the work.



    INSTRUCTION: Answer all questions

    1. The choice of words to create special effects is called A. fallacy. B. atmosphere. C. diction. D. mood.
    2. A long narrative chronicling a family’s heroic deeds is a/an A. opera. B. epistle. C. fable. D. saga.
    3. ……… drama operates against a character who is unaware of a situation which is known to the audience. A. Verbal irony. B. Dramatic irony. C. Satire. D. Parody.
    4. The use of dialogue creates a/an …………. effect. A. humorous B. poetic C. ironic

      D. dramatic

    5. One of the following is not a form of poetry. A. Sonnet B. Ode C. Suspense D. Lyric



    Examine the use of suspense in the drama.



    Read up the themes of She Stoops to Conquer in Exam Focus.





    1. Young Charles Marlow is a major character in the play. He is a friend of Hastings. He is not a stable character. He is in love with Kate.
    2. Hastings is a friend of Marlow and future husband of Nelly. He plans to elope with her.
    3. Miss Kate Hardcatle is the daughter of Mr and MrsHardcastle. She is the character that stoops to conquer her true love, Marlow.
    4. MrHardcastle is the patriarch of the Hardcastle’s family. He has planned to give the hand of the daughter to Sir Charles’ son, Marlow.
    5. MrsHardcastle is the mother of Tony and Kate. She is materialistic and inconsiderate.
  9. Tony Lumpkin is the son of MrsHardcastle. He is mischievous and uneducated.
  10. Miss Constance Nelly is an orphan and niece to MrsHardcastle.
  11. Sir Charles Marlow is the father of young Marlow and an old friend of MrHardcastle.
  12. Diggery is the Hardcastle’s head servant.
  13. Jeremy is Marlow’s servant.



    She Stoops to Conquerhas a variety of themes. Appearance versus Reality permeates the play, because main character Marlow can only feel comfortable in his own skin when he is the company of people who are not his peers.


    Since Marlow cannot accept his reality, and he needs “the look” of something to find his comfort zone, it is safe to argue that he is guided by the appearance of lower class folk rather than by the real personality of people.

    This theme is also evident in the way that Kate had to transform herself in order to get to Marlow. When she “stoops” and poses as a bar maid to get to know Marlow’s real personality the roles become reversed and it is she who is basically fooling him.


    Similarly, other characters seem to break with the expected social conventions that make men and women behave in a very specific way during courtship. This means that they adopt a personality in public and another personality in person. For example, Kate acts quite proper as her father tells her, but once this ends she is committing the unthinkable by actively pursuing Marlow. Again, this is indicative of the false versus real personalities that the characters adopt.

    Other sub-themes include courtship, social conventions, gender roles, and family relationships, but notice how the theme of appearance and reality still affects these subtopics because the basic problem of the play, which is to bring Marlow and Kate together, can only occur when one of them adopts a fake persona.



    While the play is not explicitly a tract on class, the theme is central to it. The decisions the characters make and their perspectives on one another, are all largely based on what class they are a part of. Where Tony openly loves low-class people like the drunks in the Three Pigeons, Marlow must hide his love of low-class women from his father and “society.” His dynamic relationship with Kate (and the way he treats her) is defined by who he thinks she is at the time – from high-class Kate to a poor barmaid to a woman from good family but with no fortune. Hastings‘ and Marlow’s reaction to Hardcastle is also a great example of the importance of class—they find him impudent and absurd, because they believe him to be of low class, but his behavior would be perfectly reasonable and expected from a member of the upper class, as he truly is.



    One of the factors that keeps the play pragmatic even when it veers close to contrivance and sentiment is the unavoidable importance of money. While some of the characters, like Marlow and Hardcastle, are mostly unconcerned with questions of money, there are several characters whose lives are largely defined by a lack of access to it. Constance cannot run away with Hastings because she worries about a life without her inheritance. When Marlow thinks Kate is a poor relation of the Hardcastles, he cannot get himself to propose because of her lack of dowry.

    And Tony seems to live a life unconcerned with wealth, although the implicit truth is that his dalliances are facilitated by having access to wealth.



    One of the elements Goldsmith most skewers in his play’s satirical moments is the aristocratic emphasis on behavior as a gauge of character. Even though we today believe that one’s behavior – in terms of “low” versus “high” class behavior – does not necessarily indicate who someone is, many characters in the play are often blinded to a character’s behavior because of an assumption. For instance, Marlow and Hastings treat Hardcastle cruelly because they think him the landlord of an inn, and are confused by his behavior, which seems forward. The same behavior would have seemed appropriately high-class if they hadn’t been fooled by Tony. Throughout the play, characters (especially Marlow) assume they understand someone’s behavior when what truly guides them is their assumption of the other character’s class.


    Throughout the play runs a conflict between the refined attitudes of town and the simple behaviors of the country. The importance of this theme is underscored by the fact that it is the crux of the opening disagreement between Hardcastle and his wife. Where country characters like Hardcastle see town manners as pretentious, town characters like Marlow see country manners as bumpkinish. The best course of action is proposed through Kate, who is praised by Marlow as having a “refined simplicity.” Having lived in town, she is able to appreciate the values of both sides of life and can find happiness in appreciating the contradictions that exist between them.



    Most characters in the play want others to be simple to understand. This in many ways mirrors the expectations of an audience that Goldsmith wishes to mock. Where his characters are initially presented as comic types, he spends time throughout the play complicating them all by showing their contradictions. Most clear are the contradictions within Marlow, who is both refined and base. The final happy ending comes when the two oldest men – Hardcastle and Sir Charles – decide to accept the contradictions in their children. In a sense, this theme helps to understand Goldsmith’s purpose in the play, reminding us that all people are worthy of being mocked because of their silly, base natures, and no one is above reproach.



    Though it is only explicitly referred to in the prologue, an understanding of Goldsmith’s play in context shows his desire to reintroduce his audience to the “laughing comedy” that derived from a long history of comedy that mocks human vice. This type of comedy stands in contrast to the then-popular “sentimental comedy” that praised virtues and reinforced bourgeois mentality. Understanding Goldsmith’s love of the former helps to clarify several elements of the play: the low scene in the Three Pigeons; the mockery of baseness in even the most high-bred characters; and the celebration of absurdity as a fact of human life.



    Much of this play’s comedy comes from the trickery played by various characters. The most important deceits come from Tony, including his lie about Hardcastle’s home and his scheme of driving his mother and Constance around in circles. However, deceit also touches to the center of the play’s more major themes. In a sense, the only reason anyone learns anything about their deep assumptions about class and behavior is because they are duped into seeing characters in different ways. This truth is most clear with Marlow and his shifting perspective on Kate, but it also is true for the Hardcastles and Sir Charles, who are able to see the contradictions in others because of what trickery engenders.



  14. Describe the main character in the work.
  15. List five themes in the work.



    INSTRUCTION: Answer all questions

    1. The clash of interest that originates from opposing forces in literature is A. climax.

      B. denouement.C. conflict.D. aside.

    2. A major character whose flaws combine with external forces that lead to his downfall is aA. flat character. B. round character. C. romantic hero. D. tragic hero.
    3. Which of the following is not a drama? A. Burlesque B. Resolution C. Pantomime

      D. Opera

    4. A literary work in which the characters and events are used as symbols is known as

      A. characterization.B. allegory.C. metaphor.D. parallelism.

    5. Characterization in a novel refers to the A. writer’s opinion of the characters. B. way the characters are revealed to the reader. C. characters and the way they behave. D. reader’s opinion of the characters.



    Discuss the theme of love has no regard for social boundaries.



    Read up the characters of She Stoops to Conquer in Exam Focus.




    1. Comedy of manners: The play is a comedy of manners which is set in a polite society. The comedy arises from the gap between the characters’ attempt to preserve standards of polite behaviour that contrasts to their true behaviour. WhileShe Stoops to Conquer contains elements of farce. Its comedy also stems from poking fun at the manner and conventions of the aristocratic, sophisticated society.
    2. Satire: Alternatively, it can be seen as satire, where characters are either ludicrous or eccentric. Such comedy might leave the impression that the characters are either too foolish or corrupt to ever reform, hence MrsHardcastle.
    3. Foreshowing: Goldsmith uses foreshadowing to create expectations and explain consequent developments. For example, MrsHardcastle in act one describes their house as “an old rumbling mansion, that looks for the world like an inn”(p. 1). This helps the audience to understand what gave Tony the idea for his practical joke.
    4. Dramatic irony: Being a device of giving the spectator an item of information that at least one of the characters in the drama is unaware of, thus placing the spectator a step ahead of at least one of the characters. From a close study of the text, abundant use of irony is seen.
    5. Prologue and epilogue: The prologue in the play is used to prepare the audience and guide their expectations. The epilogue gives a concluding statement.



  16. Comment on the work as a comedy.
  17. Discuss the use of irony in the play.



    INSTRUCTION: Answer all questions

    1. In literary work, verbal irony refers to aA. device in which the speaker means the opposite of what he says. B. situation in which a character speaks or acts against the trendof events. C. difficult situation which defies a logical or rational resolution. D. device in which the actor on stage means exactly what he says.
    2. In the theatre, words spoken by a character that are meant to be heard by the audience but not by the other characters on stage is called A. aside. B. soliloquy. C. acoustic. D. tone.
    3. A poet’s use of regular rhythm is known as A. allegory. B. assonance. C. metre.

      D. onomatopoeia.

    4. A literary genre which directly imitates human action is A. drama. B. comedy. C. prose. D. poetry.
    5. The main aim of caricature is to A. describe. B. expose. C. emphasize. D. ridicule.



    Examine the use of foreshadowing and the language in the play.



    Read up the style of She Stoops to Conquer in Exam Focus.





    This is a poem of lamentation. The poet is worried about the social misfortune that is befallen his people and the seemingly indifference of the people to the apparent solution. The poet sees the problems as self-inflicted. He also sees the answers to the problem but they seem not to listen. The first two stanzas capture the complaints of the community and the people’s contemptuous reaction. The poet says that no outsider will take the cries of the community serious because they are not only trivial, and self-inflicted, the people themselves are not serious and receptive to their traditions and ancestry. The poet states that the community’s approach to airing their complaints, whether gently or loudly, will not mitigate the derisive reaction of the people. This is seen in lines 1 and 6. The poet goes on to say that the complaints of the people did not start today. He depicts the people as insincere.


    The poet proffers answers to the question of Africa’s unending social trauma in the succeeding stanzas. Africans must look inward to solve its problems. We must go back to our roots, recognize our ancestors, take pride in our tradition, believe in ourselves and our products and stop the crazydependence on foreign ideas. The poet sees it as sheer vanity looking up to

    Western civilization to solve our domestic problems while the basic facts of existence are left unattended.


    The last stanza is a logical deduction from the preceding lines. The poet concludes that it is futile complaining when we know the source of our predicaments but refuse to amend our ways. To him, Africans can only fare well if she recognizes continually the undying presence of the ancestors and obey their instructions.



  18. What is the main preoccupation of the poem?
  19. Discuss the content of the poem.



    INSTRUCTION: Answer all questions

    1. A fable is a story in which A. allegations are made about characters. B. animals or things are used as characters. C. there is an important setting. D. the story is told in poetic form.
    2. The juxtaposition of two contrasting ideas in a line of poetry is A. euphemism.

      B. synecdoche.C. catharsis.D. oxymoron.

    3. Drama is the representation of a complete series of actions by means of A. movement and gesture for the screen and audience. B. speech, movement and gesture for the stage only. C. speech, movement and gesture for the stage, screen and radio. D. movement only.
    4. Identify the odd item. A. Poetry B. Prose C. Melodrama D. Drama
    5. “All the world is a stage,” is an example of A. metaphor. B. paradox. C. allusion.

      D. personification.



    Discuss the structure and mood of the poet as employed in the poem.



    Read up the themes of the poem “Vanity” in Exam Focus.





    1. Abandonment of traditionalways or values: The poem comments on the tendency of African educated elites and other Westernized Africans to abandon African wisdom, values and general traditional ways of life because many of these people have led Africans to believe that African ways of life is primitive and barbaric.
    2. Wisdom of the ancestors is invaluable: The poem presents ancestors as reservoir of sound teaching and wisdom, which are sufficient to guide their offspring through the challenges of life.
    3. Warning to renegades: The entire poem can be seen as warning to renegades. The poem warns those who have chosen not to listen the voice of the elders, voice of wisdom and voice of the ancestors.
    4. Pain and misery.
    5. The reality of human suffering and predicaments



    1. Rhetorical question: This device is used in lines 5, 8, 10,11, 14 and30.
    2. Humour/sarcasm: There is certain humour or sarcastic tone to the poet’s reference to ‘large mouths’, ‘sad voice’, ‘beggars’ etc.
    3. Synecdoche : Examples of this device are ‘ears’, ‘eyes’ ‘hearts’ as used in the poem.
    4. Simile: Examples of simile can be seen in line 13: “which grows in us like a tumour”.
    5. Metaphor: This is used in line four. Black Africa is seen as beggars.
    6. Enjambment: Most of the lines in the poem run into one another.



  20. Discuss the poetic devices in the poem.
  21. Examine the main theme of the poem.



    INSTRUCTION: Answer all questions

    1. A literary work whose mode of narration is the letter is a(n) (a) letter prose (b) romantic work (c) letter narration (d) epistolary work
    2. When a work of art attempts to imitate the style of another work in a mocking manner, we describe the newer work as a(n) (a) pun (b) farce (c) innuendo (d) parody
    3. ‘How can he compare our church outing with theirs? After all millions of people attended ours while very few people were seen at theirs,’ The speaker is likely to be accused of the use of (a) oxymoron (b) paradox (c) comparison (d) hyperbole
    4. A novel is a (a) long story involving human character (b) long prose narrative fiction

      (c) prose writing about various people (d) prose writing about great people

    5. When a poem has no regular rhyme scheme, it is called: (a) a blank verse (b) a dramatic verse (c) a prose verse (d) a lyrical verse



    Discuss the poetic devices in the work.



    Read up the devices of the poem “Vanity” in Exam Focus.




    TOPIC: READING AND TEXTUAL ANALYSIS OF NON-AFRICAN PROSE: “The Castle of Otranto” by Horace Walpole.


    The narrative is about a vain struggle by Prince Manfred to prevent the accomplishment of an ancient prophecy which states that the castle and lordship of Otranto “should pass from the present family, whenever the real owner should be grown too large to inhabit”(pp. 1-2). To prevent the realization of the prophecy, Manfred arranges to marry his only and sickly son, Conrad, to Isabella in order to have an heir in the event of the death by the sickly boy of fifteen. On the wedding day, the poor boy is killed in a mysterious circumstance. A mysterious giant helmet crushes him to death before the nuptial ceremony. Manfred is as incredulous as he is devastated. Shortly afterwards, a young peasant among the crowd of the spectators and sympathizers at the scene, later revealed as Theodore, observes that the helmet resembles the one on the statue of Alfonso the Good at St. Nicholas church nearby. This prompts some of the spectator to rush to the chapel and return not only to confirm the young man’s observation but also to add that the Alfonso’s statue is missing. Manfred becomes frantic and declares that the young peasant is a magician and sorcerer. He orders him imprisoned on charges of murder.

    After recovering a bit from the shock of the tragedy, Manfred continues in his effort to prevent the accomplishment of the prophecy hanging over his household by scheming to marry Isabella, the proposed bride of Conrad. Isabella, outraged at the proposal, flees from the castle through an underground passage to St. Nicholas chapel. She is assisted by the jailed Theodore.

    Father Jerome of St. Nicholas intimates Manfred and his wife, Lady Hippolita, of Isabella’s refuge in the church. Smartly sending his wife away, Manfred request the priest to assist him divorce his wife and marry Isabella. The priest not only refuses, he warns the Prince against the idea. However, in an attempt to divert Manfred’s attention, he suggests that Isabella might be in love with one who assisted her to escape. Enraged by this possibility, he orders the young man to

    be brought out for execution. As the young man submits to the order and gets ready for the fatal blow, the collar of his wear falls down to reveal a birthmark which tells Father Jerome that the peasant is his son. The life of the young man is used to negotiate for the cooperation of Jerome in facilitating the Prince desires.

    Fredric, the Marquis of Vicenza, arrives to challenge Manfred’s lordship of the castle and principality of Otranto. The latter proposes an alternative to fighting asa way to resolve the matter. Both agree to marry each other’sdaughter so that the blood of the rightful owner and that of the usurper of the throne would have been fused in the offspring that will result from the marriage, specifically the marriage ofManfred to Isabella.

    Having been assisted by Matilda to escape, Theodore makes for the convent at St Nicholas to tell his father of his escape but the priest is not around. Theodore heads for the forest where Frederic arrives later in search of Isabella. While resisting the Marquis’s attempt to gain access to the lady, he stabs him but the Marquis eventually survives.

    While the negotiations of the marriage are still ongoing, a ghost appears to Frederic,warns him against any consort with Manfred. Consequently, he becomes cold and uncooperative towards Manfred. Soon after, Manfred receives information from one of his servants that a lady from the castle has been sighted “in private conference at the tomb of Alfonso in St Nicholas church” (p. 141). Thinking that the lady is Isabella trying to elope with Theodore, Manfred rushes there and kills his own daughter, Matilda, in error. It is eventually revealed that Theodore, not Fredric, is the true heir of Alfonso and the rightful claimant to the lordship of Otranto.


    Dracula.Siouxsie and the Banshees. That hound of the Baskervilles scaring people out on the moors. Tim Burton’s career.Joy Division and New Order.The entire industry of black cosmetics. All these and more might not exist today had Horace Walpole not published The Castle of Otrantoin 1764. Most literary experts agree that The Castle of Otranto created the genre of gothic fiction and, by extension, everything that has ever expanded outward from it.

    The stimulus behind Walpole’s invention of a brand new literary genre was, as is usually the case in these things, a deep and enduring boredom with conventions popular at the time. Those conventions belong to the genre that today is referred to as Romance. Walpole’s major beef with the Romance fiction of his time was it all had come to seem ridiculously contrived and desperately uninspired. What he wanted to read himself were stories that imitated reality in a more authentic way that eschewed the insipid blandness of mere reportage. Keep in mind that much of the most popular fiction at the time Walpole starting composing The Castle of Otranto were those excruciatingly detailed books about manners that painted a portrait of reality that was

    only accurate on the surface and did not even bother trying to penetrate into the psychological imperative behind the commitment to those manners.


    To put it in simple terms, what Walpole set out to do with The Castle of Otranto was to transport the concept of fiction as an imitation of reality from its contemporary stagnation of merely recording how people behaved into a more imaginative exploration of reality by analyzing how people behaved. The most authentic means of getting at the raw root of behavior was to push characters out of the mundane reality of everyday life and into situations of such extraordinary conditions that the true nature of one’s character could no longer be concealed.


    The result was The Castle of Otranto. Within this brand new type of novel readers would confront a gloomy and mysterious castle where the decay of age symbolized the degeneration of the humans inhabiting it. Other elements to be found in Walpole’s prototype of gothic fiction include an portentous and menacing forecast of the fates of the characters, labyrinthine corridors beneath the castle, people locked behind closed doors in difficult-to-reach rooms, a supernatural patina covering the entire narrative, apparitions, a sense of doom, pervasive dread and an overwhelming amount of scenes taking place at night or in the darkness.

    In other words, all the ingredients that readers have come to expect from gothic novels as diverse Jane Eyre, The Fall of the House of Usher, Rebecca and The Haunting of Hill House and beyond.



  22. Examine the features of the plot.
  23. Discuss the plot of the plot.



    INSTRUCTION: Answer all questions

    1. A praise poem is (a) a dirge (b) an epic (c) an ode (d) a ballad
    2. Lines of regular recurrence in a poem constitutes (a) a refrain (b) an alliteration (c) an assonance (d) a theme
    3. A regular group of lines in poetry constitutes (a) Stanza (b) Verse (c) Rhythm (d) Metre
    4. An individual who acts , appears or is referred to as playing a part in a literary work is a (A) villain (b) character (c) clown (d)narrator
    5. A bitter remark intended to wound the feeling is (a) satire (b) an allusion (c) a sarcasm (d) an ambiguity



    Describe the main character in the work.



    Read up the themesCastle of Otranto in Exam Focus.





  • Manfred — the lord of the Castle of Otranto. He is the father of Conrad and Matilda, and the husband of Hippolita. After his son is killed by the falling helmet, he becomes obsessed with the idea of ending his marriage with Hippolita in pursuit of the much younger Isabella, who was supposed to marry his son. Manfred serves as the prime antagonist of the novel; he is the dictatorial ruler and father that drives the plot forward in a depiction of deranged cruelty visited upon his children.[2]
  • Hippolita — the wife of Manfred and the mother of Conrad and Matilda. After having lost her son, she is left with just Matilda to combat the tyrannical turn of mind that her husband displays. Manfred intends to divorce her due to her sterility and on the grounds that their marriage is in fact false because they are actually related. Faced with the threat of divorce, Hippolita is mournful yet submissive to the wills of her husband. She acts as a sort of enabler to her husband, putting aside her morals and happiness so that her husband can get what he wants.
  • Conrad — the fifteen-year-old son of Manfred and Hippolita and the younger brother of Matilda. In the first pages of the novel, he is crushed by a giant helmet on his way to his wedding with Isabella.
  • Matilda — Matilda is the daughter of Hippolita and the oppressive Manfred. She falls in love with Theodore, much to her chagrin since it is a love unsanctioned by her parents. Upon the appearance of Frederic, things become even more complicated as Frederic lusts after Matilda. She serves as the forbidden woman, a facet of Gothic literature.[3] Frederic and Manfred make plans to swap their daughters in marriage, crushing Matilda’s hope of being with Theodore. At the end of the novel, she is mistakenly stabbed by her father.
  • Isabella — the daughter of Frederic and the fiancée of Conrad (at the beginning of the novel). After the death of Conrad, she makes it clear that, although she did not love Conrad, she would have far preferred being betrothed to him rather than his father, who pursues her throughout the novel. Isabella and Matilda have a brief argument concerning the fact they both have feelings for Theodore. After the death of Matilda, Theodore settles for Isabella and the two become the lord and lady of the castle.
  • Theodore — at the beginning of the novel, Theodore appears to be a mere minor character, whose role is purely to point out the significance of the helmet as a link to the fulfillment of the prophecy. However, he emerges as a main character after Manfred orders him to be imprisoned within the helmet for his insolence and he escapes, only to help Isabella escape from the castle through a trapdoor. He is revealed later in the novel to be the lost son of Friar Jerome. Theodore proceeds to protect Isabella from the wanton lust of Manfred. He captures the hearts of both Isabella and Matilda, but settles for Isabella after Matilda’s death. He also later goes on to rule the Castle of Otranto.
  • Friar Jerome — the friar at the monastery near the Castle of Otranto. Manfred attempts to manipulate him into both supporting his plan to divorce his wife and persuading his wife to go along with this plan. It is later discovered that he is Theodore’s father.

    Frederic — the long-lost father of Isabella who appears late into the novel. He opposes  Manfred at first, until he settles on a deal to marry Matilda.

  • Bianca — the servant of Matilda who serves as a comic relief of the otherwise highly melodramatic novel.
  • Diego and Jaquez — these two, like Bianca, are other servants within the Castle of Otranto.



  1. Lust for power.
  2. Patriarchal dominance.
  3. Incest
  4. Crime and punishment
  5. Secular power vs spiritual power.
  6. Tyranny
  7. Inheritance
  8. Love


    The Elements of a Gothic Novel in “The Castle Of Otranto”

  • Setting in a castle: The story “The Castle of Otranto” takes place in and around lord Manfreds’ castle which is filled with secret passages.
    It states in the summary that it “tells the story of Manfred, lord of the castle, and his family.” Assuming that he is the protagonist the setting would presumably take place near his homestead also by looking the title itself tells the reader that a castle will be involved.
  • An atmosphere of mystery and suspense
    The story “The Castle of Otranto” created a sense of mystery and suspence when a gigantic helmentunexpectingly falls from overhead killing Conrad, the lord of the castles only heir.
    This is when tensiontension begins to build up within the story causing the next elements of a gothic novel to come into play.
  • An ancient prophecy
    There’s an ancient prophecy within the story that goes ” The castle and the lordship of Otranto should pass from the present family, whenever the real owner should be grown too large to inhabit it”.
  • Omens, Portents, visions
    After the lords son Conrad died a gruesome death, Manfred began to fear for the end of his families line and blamed his wife for providing him with an unsuited heir. Soon after heinvisions that his sons fiancee could provdie him with the son he needs to keep the continuation of hisfamilys wealth and name.
  • High, even overwrought emotions

    Manfred went to a church with the intentions of mudering Isabella, the woman who denies to marry him.
    As he gets to the church he suspects that his own daughter is Isabella and stabs her. It is at this point that the Manfred shows sincre regret about his wrong doing.

  1. Woman in distress
    Isabella was Conrads betrothed. Since his passing she was put in a situation where not only was shedevestated of her lovers passing but, she would now be forced to marry the man she expected to once be her father in law.
  2. Women threatened by a powerful, impulsive, tyrannical male
    Marrying Manfred absolutely disgusted her therefore she ran from the castle. She fleed to the church while fearing her own life hoping they could help her from being forced into a marrige she dissaproved of. After being promised protection she is still not entirely safe seeing as Manfred is out looking for her inhopes of murdering her.
  3. The mystery of gloom and horror
    Characters trapped in a room
  4. The vocabulary of the gothic



  1. Describe Matilda and Theodore as characters.
  2. Discuss the theme of patriarchal dominance in the novel.



    INSTRUCTION: Answer all questions

    1. A character that develops in the course of a novel or play is described as A. flat.

      B. antagonist.C. round.D. protagonist.

    2. A dirge is poem sung A. to send a child to sleep. B. to make workers happy. C. at a birthday party. D. at a funeral.
    3. In drama, the ____________ creates humour. A. hero B. clown C. villain D. chorus
    4. ‘Let me not love thee if I love thee not’ illustrates A. metaphor. B. proverb. C. paradox. D. meiosis.
    5. _________ is a literary device used to express something unpleasant in a more acceptable way. A. Epilogue B. Epigram C. Euphemism D. Eulogy.



    Discuss the setting of Castle of Otranto.






  3. Use of the Omniscient Point of View: The novelist makes use of the omniscient point of view, which is also referred to as third person point of view, in presenting his story. This technique affords the reader the opportunity to know a lot about the characters in the story, especially their motives. It also helps the reader to form a balance opinion on these characters.
  4. Archaism: Although not a deliberate linguistic strategy, it should be noted that the novel makes use of some words which, in today’s English, are considered as archaic. Some of these words and their rough equivalence in today’s English are provided below:

    Ye- you

    Thou- you

    Ere- before

    Orison- prayer





  5. Romance and Realism: As a gothic fiction, the novel both the elements of romance and realism. The human characters and physical setting of the story illustrate some of the realistic aspects in the novel. On other hand, we also have the deployment of non-human characters like ghosts, apparitions, giants and so on, which are features of the romance. In short, we have mixture of the natural and supernatural elements in the novel.
  6. Comic Relief: The story is characterized by a very tense atmosphere from the death of Conrad to the death of Matilda, both within a period of about forty-eight hours. Somewhere along the line, comic relief is employed. This is witnessed when Manfred attempt to get intelligence about a possible affair between Isabella and Theodore Bianca.
  7. Irony: There is the use of irony in the novel. The most significance in the work is seen in the murder of Matilda. Matilda turns out to be the daughter of Manfred who murders her. There is also irony in the relation and interaction between Manfred and Theodore.



  8. Describe the Manfred as a main character in the work.
  9. Discuss the use of symbols in the work.



    INSTRUCTION: Answer all questions

    1. ____ is the location of the action of the plot. A. Setting B. Narrative technique C. point of view D. Characterization
    2. A ballad is essentially a ____ poem. A. descriptive B. dramatic C. pastoral D. narrative
    3. The first four lines of Shakespearean sonnet rhyme A. abcd. B. abba. C. abab. D. cdcd.
    4. A story in which characters or actions represent abstract ideas or moral qualities is A. an epic. B. a legend. C. an allegory. D. a satire.
    5. The use of imagery in prose or verse A. appeals to the senses. B. develops the plot.

      C. creates confusion. D. obscures meaning.


    Discuss the theme of love and lust in the novel.


    Read up the characters in Castle of Otranto in Exam Focus.

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