Malachias' tale

Malachias' tale

In Brief

New Style. Gifford comments that the paragraph running from "But Malachias' tale began . . ." to "Murderer's ground" is largely "After the style of Horace Walpole's (1717-97) Gothic novel The Castle of Otranto (1764). In this brief passage, Haines plays the part of Manfred, the bloodstained usurper in Walpole's novel."

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Walpole's The Castle of Otranto kicked off the fad of the Gothic novel, a late 18th century breed of horror story in which fantastic things happen to ordinary people. Its prose is intensely purple. There are many echoes of Hamlet and his ghostly father stalking about the castle of Elsinore, which accounts for Joyce's allusions in this paragraph to Shakespeare's play ("in the other a phial marked Poison," and "For this relief much thanks") and to Stephen's Hamlet theory ("Which of us did not feel his flesh creep!," and "the ghost of his own father").

If Haines plays the part of the bloody tyrant Manfred, as Gifford argues, he seems also to play the part of the ghost that stalks the castle of Otranto. As they open doors and enter rooms in the labyrinthine structure, characters in Walpole's novel are terrified to see parts of the specter's massive body, an experience which Joyce parodies: "The secret panel beside the chimney slid back and in the recess appeared... Haines!"

JH 2014
Manfred beholds the helmet which the huge ghost in The Castle of Otranto has dropped on his son Conrad, crushing him to death. Source: