Literary Criticism of Matthew Lewis’ Novel, The Monk Essay

Literary Criticism of Matthew Lewis’ Novel, The Monk Essay

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Literary Criticism of Matthew Lewis’ Novel, The Monk

Elliot B. Gose's essay "The Monk," from Imagination Indulged: The Irrational in the Nineteenth-Century Novel, is a psychological survey of Matthew Lewis' novel The Monk. Gose uses Freud's and Jung's psychological theories in his analysis of The Monk's author and characters.

To understand Gose's ideas, we must first contextualize his conception of Freud's and Jung's theories. According to Gose: According to Freud we must look behind conscious daydreaming, as well as behind unconscious sleep dreaming, for keys to the unsatisfied primitive desires of the self. According to Jung, when investigating such fantasy, we sometimes find ourselves in the presence of a vision that transcends the bounds of the immediate self and its limitations (216).

Gose believes that The Monk is the artistic work that led to the writing of Wuthering Heights and Bleak House , though Lewis' novel comprises flawed components that separate it from the other novels' artistic greatness. Additionally, he finds the qualifications Chase set for a romance novel in The Monk ; Lewis' novel is set in the past, the characters are two-dimensional, the characters serve mainly for plot function, and the plot events are unrealistic.

Gose expresses concern in analyzing Lewis, due to the lack of information about his childhood, so Gose analyses Lewis only from sources he deems valid, such as a collection of Lewis' letters. He sights the separation of Lewis' parents as a traceable indication of an event leading to Lewis' split psyche. Lewis lived with his father only. from the age of six, and followed his father's educational wishes. Then, as a young man, Lewis entered the Civil Service influenced by his mother'...


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...] manages to seduce him" (217). What does he mean by Matilda "manages?" Is Ambrosio not a active participant of the seduction? Gose is taking guilt off Ambrosio's shoulders that rightfully belongs there. Gose does not even allude to the word "homosexual" in the passages about Ambrosio's attraction to Rosario and the devil. The transgendered theory was outdated in 1972 when Gose wrote this essay, but he still describes Ambrosio's homosexual tendencies as "confused sexual identity" (217). Whose sexual identity is Ambrosio confused about, his own or his lovers'?

Works Cited

Barterian, Gerald R., and Denise Evans, eds. Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism. Vol. 62. Gale Research: Detroit, 1998. (original source: Gose, Elliot B. Jr. "The Monk" Imagination Indulged: The Irrational in the Nineteenth-Century Novel. McGill-Queen's University Press, 1972, pp. 27- 40.)

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