The Treatment Of Women In Matthew Lewis The Monk

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The Monk (1796) is a Gothic novel written by Matthew Lewis. Written in the 18th century, the novels plot is a scandalous tale of murder and incest. The main character is a monk, Ambrosio, who struggles to find the line between his religious vows and tempting personal ambitions. Apart from the main character being male, readers are introduced to several prominent female characters throughout the novel: Agnes, who enters a convent after her plans of running away with her lover are foiled; Antonia, a young innocent girl whose virtue leads to her death; Matilda, a young lady who loves Ambrosio and aids in his destruction; and the Prioress, who punishes Agnes in order to honor the convent. It is through these female characters that we see the issue of anti-feminism arise. Lewis used his female characters to portray…show more content…
This brutality is a direct correlation to the views on women in the novel. Agnes was imprisoned for becoming pregnant with Don Lorenzo’s child before they were married. She was tortured and left to starve to death with her unborn child. Her child died shortly after it was born, which only added to the punishment she had received. “Thus did its lifeless limbs repose, while I covered it with kisses, talked to it, wept, and moaned over it without remission, day or night. Camilla entered my prison regularly….” (Lewis 412). This quote allows the reader to see into the mental prison Agnes would reside in for the rest of her life. Don Lorenzo was also guilty of the same crime Agnes committed but received no punishment to this brutality. The Bleeding Nun is another example of the brutality against women in Lewis’ novel. She is murdered and her bones were left unburied in the castle. The Bleeding Nun declared “Know then, that my bones lie still unburied; they rot in the obscurity of Lindenberg Hole.” [Lewis 136]. Through this statement she emphasizes the injustice of how she did not receive the dignity of a

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