Manfred: Acts in the text as an overbearing and tyrannical father. He is also husband to Hippolita and after his deceased son’s fiancé. He fulfills the curse upon his family line by ironically acting in the interests of securing more male heirs to circumvent the curse. Character Quote: “Since hell will not satisfy my curiosity, I will use the human means within my power for preserving my race; Isabella shall not escape me.”
Hippolita: Arguably one of the most pious in the text. She functions as a doting mother who places her role as wife, mother, and servant of God above any needs or desires she may have. Character Quote: “My lovely children,” said the touched Hippolita, “your tenderness overpowers me—but I must not give way to it. It is not ours to make election for ourselves: heaven, our fathers, and our husbands must decide for us . “
Conrad: The son of Manfred and Hippolita. He was the first born and only male heir of his parents Hippolita and Manfred. He also died without producing a male heir.
Isabella: The former fiance to Conrad, friend to Matilda, and daughter to Fredric had a unique part to play in ensuring the curse comes to pass. She was the object of affection that led Manfred to self-fulfill the curse, by acting carelessly to have her. Character Quote: “Sir, whoever you are, take pity on a wretched princess standing on the brink of destruction: assist me to escape from this fatal castle, or in few moments I may be made miserable for ever.”
Matilda: Arguably the heroine of the text, Matilda falls in love with Theodore who she is doomed to not have. She is also the daughter of Hippolita and Manfred. She becomes heroine by making a sacrifice to restore order and make things proper in terms of status and society. Character Quote: “Cruel man!” cried Matilda, “to aggravate the woes of a parent; may heaven bless my father, and forgive him as I do! My Lord, my gracious Sire, dost thou forgive thy child? Indeed, I came not hither to meet Theodore. I found him praying at this tomb, whither my mother sent me to intercede for thee, for her—dearest father, bless your child, and say you forgive her.”
Theodore: Originally mistaken as a commoner, he is aristocracy in disguise. His father is Father Jerome of St. Nicholas’s church that is adjoined to the castle. Theodore, with Matilda, holds the key for major Gothic elements to come into being. Character Quote: “Guilty Passion! cried Theodore: can guilt dwell with innocent beauty and virtuous modesty?”
Father Jerome/Count of Falconara: The priest in this text does his best to prevent Manfred’s schemes from coming to pass. However, his hands become tied when we find that Theodore is his son. Character Quote: “It is sinful, replied the friar, to cherish those whom heaven has doomed to destruction. A tyrant’s race must be swept from the earth from the third to fourth generation. Will heaven visit the innocent for the crimes of the guilty?”
Manfred, the prince of Otranto, a usurper. After Manfred’s son is mysteriously killed on his wedding day, Manfred plans to divorce his wife and marry the promised bride himself. After much frightening supernatural intervention, Manfred surrenders his claims to Otranto; he and his wife then enter neighboring convents.
Conrad, the fifteen-year-old son of Manfred. On his wedding day, he is found crushed to death beneath a gigantic helmet.
Isabella, the daughter of the Marquis of Vicenza and the fiancée of Conrad. Manfred plans to marry her after Conrad’s death, but she escapes him with the aid of the true heir to Otranto, whom she marries after Manfred’s abdication.
Theodore, a young peasant and the true heir to Otranto. He is imprisoned and nearly executed by Manfred’s order, but with both human and supernatural aid he triumphs, marrying Isabella and becoming the new Prince of Otranto.
Matilda, Manfred’s daughter. She gives aid to Theodore. Learning that Theodore is in the chapel with a woman, the jealous Manfred goes there and stabs the woman, only to learn that he has killed his daughter Matilda.
Father Jerome, formerly prince of Falconara, now a priest. Called to give absolution to the condemned Theodore, he discovers that Theodore is his own son, born before he entered the Church.
The Marquis of Vicenza
The Marquis of Vicenza, Isabella’s father. Disguised as the Knight of the Gigantic Sabre, he comes to Otranto, bringing with him a huge sword carried by a hundred men. On its blade is written that only Manfred’s blood can atone for the wrongs done to the family of the true heir. By betrothing the Marquis to Matilda, Manfred gets his consent to his own marriage with Isabella; however, terrifying omens and warnings cause the Marquis to renounce Matilda.
Prince Alfonso the Good
Prince Alfonso the Good, formerly the ruler of Otranto. It is the helmet of his statue that crushes Conrad. His giant form appears to proclaim Theodore, the son of his daughter, heir to Otranto. He then ascends to Heaven.
Saint Nicholas, who receives Prince Alfonso into Heaven.