Critically analyse the treatment of the sexually sublime in 'Zofloya' and 'The Monk'

Essay by kelleeUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, April 2005

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In Gothic novels sublime sexuality is an out of control element that drives the affected characters to destruction. This is especially true of Lewis's The Monk and Dacre's Zofloya. Both novels stress fearless sexuality and expressions beyond the limitations of everyday life. Dacre's protagonist is a mother hating triple murderess who dreams of sexual congress with a demon of colour. Whilst Lewis's monk is a corrupt, murdering, sexual predator who is enticed by an evil prioress. There are many similarities between these works and as Dacre was better known as 'Rosa Matilda' this seems to pronounce her as a character sprung full blown from the pages of The Monk.

The religious society in which Ambrosio lives is seen to be hypocritical, particularly about sexual matters. Nuns lust after young Theodore, the cruel abbess reveals her secret machinations, Ambrosio (who fantasises about copulating with a painting of the Virgin) breaks his vow of celibacy to succumb to Matilda's temptations, commit incest, rape, matricide and murder.

A villain's blasphemies render his or her eroticism the more vivid and perverse. Although the monk spends much of the book in 'a confused Chaos of remorse, voluptuousness, inquietude, and fear,' when away from public scrutiny he cannot resist secret temptations.

Ambrosio's obsession with eroticism make him perverted sexually. Unknown to the women who confess to him: 'the eyes of the luxurious friar devour their charms'. Shockingly, this seducer's gaze has been practiced in the privacy of his cell before a portrait, of all things, of the Madonna. 'There is also more of a hint of homoeroticism in the relationship between Ambrosio and Matilda: a sense of indulging in forbidden pleasure that can only lead to a bad end in such a hypocritical society' (Sim 2000). Self deluded, conflicted and vulnerable, Ambrosio states...