There were lots of Shakespearean overtones. The complicated love situations, pitting aristocratic arranged matches against love at first sight, together with the meddling 'holy' friar, reminded me of Romeo and Juliet while there are clear tributes to Hamlet and Macbeth. The clowning of the rustics is also a Shakespearean touch.
The silliest part of the story is the one in which best friends Matilda and Isabella both lust after Theodore, the clean cut young peasant. There is the chance of a significant amount of dramatic tension but Walpole throws it away after two pages when Isabella agrees to resign her hopes to her friend. Neither of them suggest that Theodore might want a say in the matter!
The whole idea of a suitor being good enough because he was born a nobleman even though he is a peasant (actually worse, he is a vagrant) is daft to our modern ears but they believed in it them. Blood will out. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens is a story based on this premise.
It was interesting to read the long passages of dialogue in which the characters take turns to speak with no quotation marks and no separation of different voices into separate paragraphs. Bianca has brilliant dialogue; the others are too much like one another.
There is indeed very little characterisation. The noble princesses and Theodore and noble and pure and insipid. Bianca is brilliant. Father Jerome and Lord Frederic are weak. The only decent character, in a role tailor made for Alan Rickman, is the evil Manfred whose wicked designs are frustrated at every turn to his obvious impatience and frustration.
The sins of the father are visited upon the children.
It may be a silly story but it gave birth to a genre. December 2014; 115 pages
It is strange that this classic Gothic story, written in 1764, was based in Italy whilst The Monk (1796) was based in Spain. Gothic is supposed to be Germanic. In fact, both books are ways of bashing Roman Catholicism.
Other books with Castle in the title include:
- I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
- The Castle by Franz Kafka
- The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro
- The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
- The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick
- I'm the King of the Castle by Susan Hill
- The Castle of Adventure by Enid Blyton
- Castle Rackrent by Maria Edgworth
- In Bluebeard's Castle by George Steiner (literary criticism)
- Hatter's Castle by A J Cronin