Shakespeare's Monk

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Shakespeare’s Monk

If there is one thing that Matthew Lewis’ novel The Monk: A Romance teaches us about writing, it is that William Shakespeare was an amazing creative author. Just about every facet of Lewis story is, at least in some part, borrowed from Shakespeare’s work. The most obvious allusion to Shakespeare in The Monk: A Romance, is the plot line of Lewis’ novel and Shakespeare’s work Measure for Measure. The story of Measure for Measure centers on Lord Angelo, who is given control of Vienna. Angelo is strict, moralistic, and unwavering in his decision-making. One can easily see the parallels between Angelo and the main Character of The Monk, Ambrosio. Just like Lord Angelo, Ambrosio is a powerful man who is both didactic and steadfast when it comes to upholding the laws of the Church. In Measure by Measure Angelo takes it upon himself to rid the city of unlawful sexual activity. He arrests a man named Claudio for impregnating a woman named Juliet before they were married. Although Claudio and Juliet were engaged and their sexual intercourse was consensual, Angelo sentences Claudio to death in order to serve as an example to the other Viennese citizens. Again, this seems somewhat familiar… perhaps because I practically just read it in The Monk. Much like in Measure by Measure people who conceive a child out of wedlock are not only ostracized by the public, but are put in mortal peril for their misdeeds. Though the ill-fated characters in the stories switch gender roles, the story of Agnes and Raymond and the story of Juliet and Claudio are strikingly similar. Isabella, Claudio's sister, is about to enter a nunnery when her brother is arrested. She is unfailingly virtuous, religious, and chaste. When she hears of her brother's arrest, she goes to Angelo to beg him for mercy. He refuses, but suggests that there might be some way to change his mind. When he propositions her, saying that he will let Claudio live if she agrees to have sexual...
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