Gothic Fiction: An Analysis of Space in The Monk Essay

Gothic Fiction: An Analysis of Space in The Monk Essay

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Gothic Fiction: An Analysis of Space in The Monk.

Space is inseparable part of every text of literature. In the Gothic fiction space is extremely important, as the Gothic fiction is mostly based on creating images connected with human perception. During the process of reading readers often use their imagination. Therefore, depiction of old castles, ruined abbeys, monasteries, subterranean passages, vaults, or secret panels, is a standard method of creating the atmosphere. As Izdebska claims, “[t]he subject of a story is event in some space, but also the space itself” (33). A typical example is the setting in Horace Walople’s Otranto, being almost a character in the novel. The castle with its ghosts, giant helmets, giant feet, giant hands, has an influence on much of the novel action.
The situation is not different in Matthew Gregory Lewis’s The Monk. As Coleridge puts it, The Monk “[is] the product of an imagination, ‘rich, powerful, and fervid’’’ (qtd.in Parreaux 77). So, in this multiepisodic story, several kinds of space can be discovered. Lewis’s understanding of space is closely connected with his own personal point of view on this issue as “[he] wrote in the early years of romanticism, when the ideas of self-expression in art and the close connection between the artist’s life and work were new and exciting” (Maclachlan VII). In the words of Maclachlan,
For us it may seem naïve that he was content to be identified with his fiction, and his fictional hero, but at the time such an identification offered a new way of reading and new ways of seeing the world and the individual’s place in it, however disturbing that might be. (Maclachlan VII)

Arguably, such awareness makes the reading more interesting.
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... The Monk. 1897. London: Penguin Popular Classics, 1998.
Maclachlan, Christopher. Introduction to: The Monk. London: Penguin Popular Classics, 1998.
Miles, Robert. Gothic Writing: 1750-1820: A Genealogy. London: Routledge, 1993.
Morse, David. Romanticism: A Structural Analysis. London: Macmillan, 1982.
Parreaux, Andre. The Publication of The Monk: A Literary Event, 1796-1798. Paris: Libraire Marcel Didier, 1960.
Peck, Louis F. A life of Matthew G.Lewis. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1961.
Sade, Marquis de. The 120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings. 1905. New York: Grove, 1966.
Sage, Victor. The Gothick Novel. London: The Macmillan Press, 1990.
Starobinski, Jean. Wynalezienie wolności: 1700-1789. Gdańsk, 2006.
Stuprich, Michael. Evolution of the Horror Story. California: Greenhaven Press, 2001.
Testa, Carlo. Desire and the Devil. 1991.


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