Flipping Patriarchy – Horace Walpole and The Castle of Otranto

VOTE FOR US by the 14 of February 2019 Australian Podcast Awards

This episode of The Frankenpod Morgan tells Brent a bit about the first gothic novel The Castle of Otranto and its creator, Horatio Walpole the 4th Earl of Oxford, known for our purposes as Horace Walpole.

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You can read The Castle of Otranto for free thanks to public domain and Project Gutenberg here

Horace Walpole was the son of the first British prime minister Robert Walpole and entered into politics himself as the elected member for Callington Cornwall. Horace Walpole never went to Callington. The constituency was what was known as a rotten borough which meant that an elected member of a very small area could be gain the same amount of influence as someone who was elected by a very populated area.

Horace spent 43 years building a gothic mansion called Strawberry Hill which is a quilt of gothic architectural elements all represented in one large building, as promised during the podcast here are some photos of Strawberry Hill:

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Horace Walpole published The Castle of Otranto anonymously in 1764, but the preface claims that it is a found text discovered by Catholic family in the north of England.

It is a story in which a tyrant and illegitimate ruler of the castle of Otranto named Manfred attempts through various nefarious and immoral means to maintain his lordship of Otranto.


When his son Conrad is killed by a massive helmet with a particular resemblance to the helmet on the statue of the founder of Otranto, Alfonso the Good, Manfred begins to panic and freak out. He tries to divorce his wife Hippolita and marry Isabella the young woman who his son was supposed to marry.

Thankfully it turns out that more that one person or entity is determined to stop Manfred’s evil machinations.

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The Bride (of Frankenstein/Sting)

The Bride Season 2 Episode 6 of The Frankenpod

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As it’s our podcast anniversary we thought it might be nice to return to our origins. But not Frankenstein and his creature but the potential second creature. The woman who raises so many issues of consent, possibly the most culturally visible character to be born out of a few short chapters of a book!

It’s The Bride!

She exists in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein as an ambiguous collection of anatomical parts that are destroyed before she can even achieve personhood. Victor Frankenstein’s creature pressures him into creating a female from the dead just like him. When Frankenstein begins to speculate on the additional damage that a female creature could cause his concerns fall into two major categories

  1. Procreation
  2. The one that most movies featuring the female creation explore her rejection of the original creature

As a result of these fears Victor destroys his second creation in front of his first, which is the final straw for the creature, this is when he vows to be with Victor Frankenstein on his wedding night.

And we never see the female creature again.

She is all potential. And that is what she remained until relatively recently. It wasn’t until the 1930s that James Whale delivers The Bride of Frankenstein and Elsa Lancaster’s brilliant performance gives us the bride as we typically view her today despite various reenvisionings and reimaginings.

This episode we are going to talk about not only the 1935 classic universal monster movie The Bride of Frankenstein but one of those reimaginings. The 1985 movie The Bride starring Jennifer Beals, Clancy Brown and Sting.

Now back to 1935 and The Bride of Frankenstein introduces a framing narrative that we never return to which is Mary Shelley played by Elsa Lanchester telling the rest of the story that happens after the conclusion of her novel Frankenstein to a very camp Byron and Percy Shelley. On a dark and stormy night no lass

The actual story then kicks off at the end of the original 1931 movie Frankenstein. In fact, we have a scattered reframing of the end of Frankenstein to retroactively suit their purposes.

A character named Dr Pretorius calls upon the recovering Frankenstein who has been renamed appropriately Victor as in the book if you remember in the 1931 movie Frankenstein was called Henry.

The creepy doctor Pretorius has a proposition for the young doctor. One last big experiment. A collaboration.

Pretorius also has little people in jars… it’s a whole thing.

Frankenstein’s wife Elizabeth is. Not. Into. This. And she makes this absolutely clear by talking about ominous premonitions.

Meanwhile, the creature who unexpectedly survived goes on a rampage killing the rest of the family of the little girl who was killed in the original movie and others.

He fled the township

He then made a friend in an old blind fiddler who does not judge him on his appearance and teaches him language. Their domestic bliss is interrupted by some hunters who are lost and raise the alarm that the murderous monster responsible for deaths in the township.

Pretorius befriends the creature as he is collecting the parts for a female creature. He tells the creature that this female creation will be a friend for him.

The creature then helps Pretorious by kidnapping Elizabeth thereby forcing Frankenstein into their unholy collaboration.

They begin a long process of creation which includes Dwight Frye killing some random woman for her heart. The creature kills Dwight Frye… which is the second time that Frankenstein has killed a Dwight Frye character in as many movies. Elizabeth gets free.

The bride is brought to life.

She rejects the Male creature and in a moment of compassion, he lets Frankenstein and Elizabeth go. Before destroying the laboratory with The Bride, Pretorius and himself still inside.

Guess what. It’s time to talk about Sting.

Yep, the 1985 movie the bride….

For more listen to Season 2 Episode 6 of The Frankenpod, The Bride

The Woman in Black vs. Spider the Wonderdog

‘I ran as I have never run before, heedless of my own safety, desperate to go to the aid of the brave, bright little creature who had given me such consolation and cheer in that desolate spot’

– The Woman in Black, Susan Hill

This episode is on Susan Hill’s ‘The Woman in Black’ and the 2012 Hammer Horror flick ‘The Woman in Black’

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Our promo this week is from the Fataliteas podcast

The Woman in Black is a story In which our hero, Spider the floofy dog, detects a problem… there is also some guy named Arthur Kipps who does a bunch of stuff. But the real story is about one floofy little dog who’s the bravest girl in the whole darn story.

The Woman in Black is a ghost story that centres around the haunting of a house by a creepy, skeletal woman in black. A young solicitor Arthur Kipps gets sent to a creepy place a la Jonathan harker in Dracula. Kipps is sent to settle the affairs of Alice Drablow, a reclusive elderly lady who lives in a creepy house called Eel Marsh which is only accessable at low tide. Once the tide is in you are stuck there with the creepy shadows, ominous noises and scary wildlife. At the nearest town, Crithin Gifford, everyone is sending Kipps some serious don’t-go-to-Eel-Marsh-vibes.

A spectre haunts Eel Marsh, a spectre that lures children to their deaths. There is a lot of child death in this episode. We try not to be too graphic, but if you’ve seen the movie you know that the graphic deaths are a huge part of the story. Not so much in the book. It is an atmospheric gothic horror that Susan Hill crafts drawing from classic horror stories. You can really feel the influence of the Brontës and Henry James in this book.

Apart from the graphic/atmospheric horror another key difference between the book and the movie is the biographical timeline of Mr Kipps. Whether he is a young enthusiastic solicitor looking to make a name for himself, or a greiving widower barely hanging on to his job as a solicitor for the sake of his young child, the Woman in Black has her sights set on Arthur Kipps and she wants revenge

An Interview About Vampires

So this week’s episode of The FrankenPod, features an interview that I (Morgan) recorded with Alix Roberts who has written an amazing thesis on Vampiric women, which I had not read at the time of recording but that I have since read and it is goddamn amazing. Unfortunately, the audio is pretty shoddy. Totally my fault and I’m going to extend the invitation to Alix for her to come on the show again so you can hear how wonderful she is without the clicks and hisses of an angry National Broadband Network.

I have changed the way I do interviews now so hopefully, this will

NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN

Alix’s Podcasts: Chasing Tale and Bloody Ripper

Texts Discussed: 

She by H. Rider Haggard can be found on the book depository

Ligeia by Edgar Allan Poe can be found on Project Gutenberg in Volume 3 of the works of Poe

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu can be found on Project Gutenberg

The Blood of The Vampire by Florence Marryat can be found on book depository

No big long blog posts for me at the moment because between my literature and communications courses uni is really kicking my butt right now. I will write more when I get the chance.

Thank you for listening or reading or how ever it is that you interact with us.

Image By No 1 Army Film & Photographic Unit, Chetwyn (Sgt) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons