Review - The Monk

The Monk
Author: Matthew G. Lewis
Pages: 300+

Set in the sinister monastery of Capuchins in Madrid, The Monk is a violent tale of ambition, murder, and incest. The great struggle between maintaining monastic vows and fulfilling personal ambitions leads its main character the monk, Ambrosio, to temptation and the breaking of his vows, then to sexual obsession and rape, and finally to murder to conceal his guilt. 

My thoughts:
Based on the book description, I expected something sort of...Faustian?; and I suppose those expectations were met. There were two things that left an impression. The first being the crazy amount of violence against women in the novel; the drugging and attempted murder of the German Baroness, the rape and murder of Antonia, the murder of Elvira, and the public flogging of the Prioress (to name a few) I guess the horror has to get mixed in somehow...The second thing was the persistent presence of Evil, and the lack of presence and/or intervention by Good. Not that I expected Good to prevail over Evil in a Gothic novel, but Ambrosio had absolutely no willpower when it came to temptation. Predictable. I'm sure a contemporary upbringing has jaded any potential feelings of surprise or horror. My least favorite element was easily the lyrical poems that ran rampant throughout the book and I'm not going to lie--I skimmed over the really long ones. My favorite parts of the book are probably when the riots rage against the convent, when Ambrosio faces the Inquisition and the end when Ambrosio signs his soul away. 

The Wandering Jew explaining his circumstance to the Marquis de las Cisternas.
'Fate obliges me to be constantly in movement: I am not permitted to pass more than a fortnight in the same place. I have no Friend in the world, and from the restlessness of my destiny I never can acquire one".
When Ambrosio discovers Matilda has given up her soul to avoid death at the stake. 

'Wretched Woman, what have you done? pass but a few years, and how dreadful will be your suffering!'

    ' Weak Man, pass but this night, and how dreadful will be your own!'
 Satan's response to Ambrosio's belief that he can still be pardoned.

'Are you not infamous in the eyes of Men and Angels. Can such enormous sins be forgiven? Hope you to escape my power? Your fate is already pronounced . The Eternal has abandoned you; Mine you are marked in the book of destiny, and mine you must and shall be!'
Didn't love it. Didn't hate it. Glad I read it. 

The Monk

3 out of 5 stars 

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This looks batshit crazy! This seems to be a good example as to why gothic created most of the violent genres in fiction.