Gothic literature often serves as an outlet for authors and readers to explore the unexplorable. Examples of unexplorable topics that are often discussed in the Gothic are gender and sexuality. For example, Matthew Lewis plays with the gender and sexuality of several characters in The Monk. Early in the novel, the character Rosario reveals that he is Matilda, a woman who disguised herself as a novice to meet the monk, Ambrosio. Here, Lewis plays with the concept of gender, as Rosario presents as masculine, but behaves ‘feminine’ while Matilda presents as feminine while acting ‘masculine’. Lewis also plays with the concept of gender through Ambrosio, as he presents masculine throughout the novel, yet switches between acting feminine or masculine depending on who he is interacting with. In addition to playing with gender, Lewis plays with the idea of sexuality in The Monk, as Ambrosio is attracted to both Rosario and Matilda. Ambrosio’s attraction to both characters creates an odd parallel, as Ambrosio is more attracted to Rosario’s more feminine personality, but has sex with Matilda, though she is more masculine. The ending of the novel shuts off conversation about sexuality and gender as it is revealed that Rosario/Matilda is a demon sent to tempt Ambrosio into sin. This presentation will use both gender and queer theory to investigate Lewis’ commentary on sexuality and gender performance and how the commentary fits into traits of Gothic fiction.
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History, Anthropology, & Philosophy
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25 March 2022
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20 July 2022
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