The first official Gothic novel
, The Castle of Otranto
was written by Horace Walpole and published in 1764. It concerns the story of the prince Manfred and his desire to avoid a curse placed upon his ancestors, which places him at risk of losing his castle and title.
The Castle of Otranto provides examples of:
- And Now You Must Marry Me: Manfred tries to do this to Isabella in order to try to avert the destruction of his line, setting up the conflict.
- Arranged Marriage: Isabella was engaged to marry Manfredís son at the start of the novel.
- The Atoner: Manfred becomes this at the end.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Manfred, starting an enduring Gothic villain tradition.
- Curse: When a giant helmet falls on and kills Manfred's son, Manfred fears it is the result of a prophecy laid down by his ancestors that 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 it."
- Distressed Damsel: Isabella
- Distressed Dude: Theodore is imprisoned and rescued by Matilda.
- Domestic Abuse: Not just due to Values Dissonance, either, because Isabella is initially terrified of Manfred because of how she's seen him treat his wife and daughter.
- Extreme Doormat: Hippolita and Matilda
- First Girl Wins
- Haunted Castle: Trope Codifier, taking its inspiration from Hamlet.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Manfred
- Homage: To Walpole's idol William Shakespeare, which the author was always up-front about.
- It's Probably Nothing: Bianca and Matilda agree the strange noises must just be "the wind."
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Matilda is willing to give up Theodore to Isabella.
- Love at First Sight: 3 cases, 1 with pre-emptive Lampshade Hanging.
- Love Triangle: Isabella loves Theodore, who loves Matilda, who loves him back.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Father Jerome is Theodore's father.
- Name's the Same: Made "Manfred," "Matilda," "Theodore," and "Isabella" staple Gothic names.
- Nice Guy: Theodore
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Nice job mortally wounding the knight who came looking for Isabella, Theodore...
- Offing the Offspring: Manfred, in full-on If I Can't Have You mode, busts in on what he thinks is a tryst between Isabella and Theodore, but instead of Isabella, it is Matilda who Theodore is meeting with, and she is tragically stabbed to death.
- Only Sane Man: Theodore and Isabella.
- Plucky Girl: Isabella
- Proper Lady: Hippolita and Matilda
- Rescue Romance: Isabella falls in love with Theodore after he helps her escape Otranto, while Theodore falls in love with Matilda when she rescues him from imprisonment.
- Servile Snarkers: Bianca, Diego, and Jacques
- Spirited Young Lady: Isabella
- Supernatural Aid: The ghosts of the castle for Isabella.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Matilda
- Trope Codifier for Gothic tropes.
- Villain Protagonist: Manfred
- Write Who You Know: Scholars love finding similarities between Otranto and Walpole's home estate Strawberry Hill.