Analysis Of ' The Monk ' Essay

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Few literary genres have managed to permeate the popular consciousness in the way that the Gothic has. Visions of ancient castles, tyrants of dwindling sanity, and the supernatural are irrevocably imbedded in the minds of the world at large. Yet, the Gothic tradition offers much more than its more recognizable tropes and motifs would seem to suggest. The Gothic often finds itself addressing weightier matters such as the norms and expectations of gender within society. Matthews Lewis’ early Gothic novel, The Monk is an excellent example of just how the Gothic can engage with and question accepted gender roles to create a sense of tension and unease within the audience. By inverting the traditional gender norms of the day in the characters of Ambrosio and Matilda, The Monk creates an atmosphere of terror, not from the unknown, but from the anxiety that comes from a disruption of traditional gender dynamics. The character of Ambrosio begins to display a shift in gender roles almost immediately after succumbing to his lust and physically consummating with Matilda. Ambrosio, far from being the confident and vain character that the reader first meets, instead becomes far more like the timid and frightened female characters more commonly seen in Gothic fiction. The narrator describes Ambrosio in far more “effeminate” terms: “his heart was despondent, and became the abode of satiety and disgust: he avoided the eyes of his partner in frailty” (193). Though the shift may seem…

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