The eponymous Manfred is a Swiss nobleman with the magic power to summon spirits. He is thoroughly miserable over the loss of one Astarte, and tries to contact her to find out whether (1) she is in heaven, (2) he will ever be reunited with her, and (3) whether his sufferings will ever end.
Manfred contains examples of the following tropes:
- Author Tract: At least a little bit.
- Byronic Hero: Manfred is a classic example and Trope Namer.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Manfred spends a good chunk of the play telling one character or another that he can't explain what has made him so miserable.
- Compliment Backfire: One evil spirit says of him, in apparent sincere admiration, "Had he been one of us, he would have been an awful spirit."
- Deal with the Devil: Defied: Manfred makes clear he got his power from the study of nature, not from selling his soul. In the final scene, demons show up to drag Manfred to hell under the mistaken impression that he is a Faust Expy.
- God of Evil: Arimanes. Manfred doesn't deck him but he certainly stands up to him.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: Although Manfred is doing his best.
- Large Ham: Manfred himself. The Chamois Hunter calls him on it.
- The Lost Lenore: All over the place.
- Magic Misfire: Manfred doesn't do very well when summoning spirits.
- Noodle Incident: Played for drama: It is never explained exactly what happened, but heavily implies that Astarte was Manfred's sister, maybe even twin, and that she was Driven to Suicide over BrotherSister Incest.
- Patrick Stewart Speech: Delivered by Manfred to the demons that want to take him to hell.
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare: To Hamlet and Macbeth.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Manfred towards the demons.
- The demons are so chastened by this that they exit stage left.
- Squishy Wizard: Averted. Manfred casually wanders over pinnacles of the Alps where even chamois hunters fear to tread.