English

Gender Fluidity within The Monk

Marylee Sherman

Description/Abstract

Matthew Gregory Lewis, one of the prominent gothic writers during the 1790s, crafts a work of literature that touches on the political and social scene of the Romantic era. His novel The Monk specifically targets the idea of identity. The character Matilda exemplifies this by crossing the boundaries of gender. Even when her gender identity is clear, she manages to obscure the conventional connotations of such identities. The final scenes reveal Matilda, despite her marvelous questioning of social roles, to be an employee of the devil. This portrayal of Matilda upholds the traditional views that those defying society are monstrous. Jeffrey Cohen within his Monster Theory suggests monsters within literature showcase the fears of the people during the work’s origination. This gothic novel conjures a literal demon to showcase the Romantic period’s social anxieties of those shattering the bounds of the patriarchal roles. Focusing on the marginalizing of Lewis’s Matilda, a character not bound by binary gender norms, one can potentially identify the social anxieties of the Romantic era surrounding gender fluidity. This essay will employ Cohen’s Monster Theory to argue that Matilda’s various transformations in The Monk serve as a reflection of the Romantic era’s Othering of those who do not recognize the social boundaries of the binary genders.

 
Mar 13th, 10:00 AM Mar 13th, 11:00 AM

Gender Fluidity within The Monk

Nesbitt 2211

Matthew Gregory Lewis, one of the prominent gothic writers during the 1790s, crafts a work of literature that touches on the political and social scene of the Romantic era. His novel The Monk specifically targets the idea of identity. The character Matilda exemplifies this by crossing the boundaries of gender. Even when her gender identity is clear, she manages to obscure the conventional connotations of such identities. The final scenes reveal Matilda, despite her marvelous questioning of social roles, to be an employee of the devil. This portrayal of Matilda upholds the traditional views that those defying society are monstrous. Jeffrey Cohen within his Monster Theory suggests monsters within literature showcase the fears of the people during the work’s origination. This gothic novel conjures a literal demon to showcase the Romantic period’s social anxieties of those shattering the bounds of the patriarchal roles. Focusing on the marginalizing of Lewis’s Matilda, a character not bound by binary gender norms, one can potentially identify the social anxieties of the Romantic era surrounding gender fluidity. This essay will employ Cohen’s Monster Theory to argue that Matilda’s various transformations in The Monk serve as a reflection of the Romantic era’s Othering of those who do not recognize the social boundaries of the binary genders.