Supervisor: Mrs. Tirhas
Subject: Independent Research Essay
Submission date: 03 July 2012 (T3W2 Tuesday)
Title: Discuss the anti-feminist portrayal of the female characters in the Monk written by Mathew Gregory Lewis.
Discuss the anti-feminist portrayal of the female characters in the Monk written by Mathew Gregory Lewis.
The Monk by Mathew Gregory Lewis is a Gothic novel published in 1796. His novel follows the dark descent of the monastery’s abbot, Ambrosio, and his fall from grace and virtue, as he engages in immoral acts. Enticed by the temptations of the devil’s agent, the cross-dressing hermaphroditic Matilda, he succumbs to debauchery and witchcraft leading to the murder of his own mother, Elvira and incest with his sister, Antonia. After succumbing to sin and having his plans found out, he finally sells his soul to the Devil, in exchange for freedom, but to no avail as the Devil reveals that Ambrosio has played into his plans. Deceived, Ambrosio is forced to suffer for six days alone and in terrible agony before his death and eternal damnation. Ambrosio’s tale is coupled with the subplot of the nun, Agnes, and how she is left to die in the convent’s dungeons as a result of the discovery of Agnes’s pregnancy with her lover, Don Raymond.
The portrayal of the women, throughout the novel, as ‘damsels in distress’, can be seen to be degrading and anti-feminist in modern standards. Most of the female characters in The Monk meet their ends violently and brutally, and serve as a medium to either drive other characters to a doomed predestined fate, or to fuel Ambrosio’s descent into sin and darkness. The objective of this essay is to discuss the anti-feminist concerns through firstly, the portrayal of the female characters in the Monk, focusing on Antonia and Matilda, followed by the symbolism of the female and male powers in the book; and finally the element of the supernatural and their contributions to the plot.
Bibliography: * Lewis, Matthew G. The Monk. London: Vintage, 2009. Print. * Stahl, Jan M. TS. Motivation and Perversion in Matthew Lewis’ The Monk. Web. 22 Feb. 2012. <http://www.zittaw.com/>. –Essay on The Monk * Hogle, Jerrold E., ed. The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002. Print. -------------------------------------------- [ 2 ]. Papal Bull- a form of charter or diploma issued under the authority of the pope. See [ 3 ]. “… dragged her through the streets, spurning her, trampling her, and treating her with every species of cruelty which hate or vindictive fury could invent…”(The Monk p.285) [ 4 ]. “He was perfectly naked: a bright star sparkled upon his forehead, two crimson wings extended themselves from his shoulders, and his silken locks were confined by a band of many-coloured fires, which play around his head formed themselves into a variety of figures, and shone with a brilliance far surpassing that of precious stones.” (The Monk p.219)