Analysis of Matthew G. Lewis’s The Monk

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Analysis of Matthew G.
Lewis’s The Monk
What is the Gothic?
• No clear definition exist for it
• The importance of atmosphere
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o Medievalesque settings
o Haunted Castles - Importance of
architecture
Heavy Symbolism
Psychological aspects
Why The Monk?
• One of the earliest example of the
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genre (1796)
Origin of Gothic conventions
Social comments of that time
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Religion
Human nature
Short Summary of characters
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Ambrosio: a monk, tempted by the devil
o Pieous Christian; later: rapist and
murderer
Matilda: seductress, agent of Lucifer
o Tempter of Ambrosio
Lorenzo and Raymond: cavaliers,
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The ‘good guys’
Agnes: nun, lover of Raymond
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Damsel in distress
Matilda
• Name:Gothic origin, meaning ‘brave
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in battle’
o Suggests barbaric, pagan
connections
Two conflicting sides:
o Supernatural: manipulative and
ruthless
o Human: signs of genuine emotion
Matilda as a Faustian agent
• Like Mephisto in Faust, she is
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a companion and adviser
a granter of power for servitude
a master of human nature
manipulative
Comparison with Faust: differences
Matilda
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Occasionaly genuine
emotions
Sexual charm
o Frees instincts (ID)
Mephisto (Faust)
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No genuinity: 100%
manipulation
Intellectual charm
o Frees consciousness
(Superego)
Archetypes
Male
Sky (Uranos, Zeus, Thor)
Wind and thunder:
Action and change
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Female
Earth (Gaia, Anann)
Nature: Preservation and
nurturing
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Archetypes
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Conclusion: In the traditions of fiction
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men act
women are acted upon
Exception: when women act, it is either
o Foolish
o Wicked
o Or Both
Archetypes
Male
Lorenzo and Christoval:
Cavaliers,
medievalesque morality
Ambrosio: Man of
authority, corrupted soul
Female
Antonia: angelic,
innocent and helpless
Agnes: passive sufferer
Matilda: woman of
action, wicked nature
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Ambrosio as a sky god
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Strict and erect posture
o
Like a statue
Clear authority, detached worldview
o
He views himself above ordinary people
Voice and oratory described as thundery
Calm, but full of destructive potential
Motif of Thunder
‚He inveighed against the vices of humanity,
and described the punishments reserved for
them in a future state. Every Hearer looked
back upon his past offences, and trembled:
The Thunder seemed to roll...’
‘His words sounded like thunder to her
ears: ‘
‘As He thundered out these words, He
violently grasped Antonia's arm, and
spurned the earth with delirious fury.’
Changes in Ambrosio
• Matilda seduces him  His subconscious is
freed
• He is drawn to Lucifer
• He gains supernatural power, but becomes
a slave to it.
• He loses the will to make active decisions
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He becomes like fire: destructive and ravaging,
but controllable
Antonia’s rape scene
’The effects which it had already produced
permitted not his doubting its success in
prolonging the slumbers of his devoted
Mistress. No sooner was the enchantment
performed than He considered her to be
absolutely in his power, and his eyes flamed
with lust and impatience.’
Incubus
Raymond meets the Bleeding Nun
‘A figure entered, and drew near my Bed
with solemn measured steps. With
trembling apprehension I examined this
midnight Visitor. God Almighty! It was the
Bleeding Nun!’
‘My blood was frozen in my veins. I would
have called for aid, but the sound expired
ere it could pass my lips. My nerves were
bound up in impotence, and I remained in
the same attitude inanimate as a Statue. ‘
Sleep Paralysis
• State between wakefullness and rest
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• Hallucinations, often nightmarish in
Muscle weakness, inability to move
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nature
Cultural connection: visions that are
possible sources of legends
Reasons of downfall
Ambrosio
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Indecisive
Refuses to escape his
situation
Integrity crisis: does
not seek solution
Lose of authority
Matilda
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Makes plans and
schemes
She controls what to
see (Cavern scene:
light carrier)
Practicer of
witchcraft: evil power
Maker of deals
Reasons of downfall
• Conclusion
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Ambrosio is too passive for a man
Matilda is too active for a woman
Anti-Catholic themes
• Gothic cathedral,
Catholic symbol
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Beacon of light and
the heavens; visual
appeal
But monstrous and
sinister at night
Metaphor for the
Church: extravagant,
but corrupt
Anti-Catholic themes: Statues
Anti-Catholic themes: Statues
• ‚Strategically’ placed for the most
important scenes
• Constant reminders of Catholic Authority
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They are like a ‚divine surveillance system’
Eyes of God or eyes of the Church?
• Praying to statues of saints  Idolatry,
superstition
Anti-Catholic themes: Statues
‘A single Lamp, burning before the Statue of St.
Rosolia, shed a faint light through the room, and
permitted him to examine all the charms of the lovely
Object (Antonia) before him.’
'She started away from the Statue's Pedestal on which
She had been seated, and attempted to escape by
flight.’
‚'Then would I vent my anguish in loud exclamations and
passionate complaints; and then again my strength
failing me, silent and hopeless I would sit me down
upon the base of St. Clare's Statue, fold my arms, and
abandon myself to sullen despair. '
Conclusion
Violation of cultural roles brings pain and
death
Possible influence os certain archetypes
Women are powerless and they are sacrificed
Symbolic use of objects
Catholicism is sinister and evil
The End

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