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During the long eighteenth century, discussions of theatrical performance increasingly focused on the actor’s body and its expressive potential to perform emotion. Hamlet—in particular, the prince’s initial meeting with his father’s Ghost—became synonymous with the passion of terror. Horace Walpole appropriates this encounter from Shakespeare’s play, this essay argues, and uses it as a template for terror in his Castle of Otranto. The novel employs the natural language that governs visible, theatrical bodies and familiar episodes from performance to heighten the private experience of the solitary reader.