Alright, guys. The Monk recap, part 3 of 4. The last part will be coming in a couple more days. You know the drill. Click to read parts 1 and 2, or just go back a few entries. You can read the full text here. Let's get this crazy train started.
So, where we left off, Raymond/Alphonso had just explained to Lorenzo his whole pointless adventure with Agnes that led to her being a pregnant nun. Lorenzo, when not hearing about how his sister had gotten lucky, was busy being madly in love with Antonia, the beautiful girl who he had met once in church. Meanwhile, Father Ambrosio was doing his thang, being the proudest, most virtuous monk in all of Spain. This means the plot of this book is going to be utterly predictable. Ambrosio's best friend Rosario turns out not to be a male monk, but rather a woman named Matilda who hid herself in the monastery because she loves Ambrosio and wants to be near him. Before she is forced to leave because of her gender, Ambrosio gets bitten by a snake. Rosario/Matilda sucks out the poison, sacrificing herself
because she's a moron who doesn't realize you can spit out poison and Ambrosio is so turned on touched by her sacrifice that he loves her back. They sex all the sex that ever sexed, and he falls from grace.
OKAY, EVERYONE CAUGHT UP?
So Lorenzo has just heard that his sister is sleeping with his best friend and he is like, “Raymond/Alphonso, you have my blessing to steal my sister from a convent. But bro, you gotta put a ring on it.” Lorenzo then goes to visit Antonia and her mother, Elvira. Antonia spends the whole time being a paragon of womanly virtue with gentle blushes and lots of needlework and I want nothing more than to set her on fire. GAG. And Elvira is all, “Look, I see you flirting with my daughter. You are from a really powerful family and I'm not sure that they'd be cool with you marrying my lowly daughter, so once you get your family’s blessing to marry her, I’ll let you come back–but not before.”
Of course the head of his family is out of the country right now, so it means the lovers are OH NOOOOOO separated. Please keep in mind that he is determined to marry a girl he has met TWICE, who didn’t really say anything either time. Ah, the good old days before women had to speak. Anyway, it’ll give him more time to focus on getting his sister out of nun jail.
Unfortunately, the night Agnes is supposed to run off with Raymond/Alphonso, she never shows up
because the nuns have her in their lair. So Lorenzo goes to the convent the next day and asks to see his sister to make sure everything is okay and to hatch another plan for her escape. The Mother Superior is like, “Uhhhhhhh, she’s sick. Very sick. She can’t come down. BYE!” And he keeps coming back and coming back and they keep putting him off and putting him off, so he writes to the Pope (as you do) and gets a Papal Bull that says the nuns need to give up Agnes to her family, she ain’t a nun no mo’. He goes to the Mother Superior and says, “Can I see my sister today?” And she goes, “Nope, she’s still sick.” And he goes, “Papal Bull, BITCH. Awwwwww yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. You gotta give her up, even if the doctor says she can’t be moved.” And the Mother Superior goes, “Okay, I was lying. SHE’S DEAD. I was working you up to it so you wouldn’t be surprised. But she got sick and died. BYE.”
Then we cut back to Ambrosio and Rosario/Matilda, immediately post-coital. And she’s like, “Well, that sex was just FABULOUS. I have decided not to die. Come with me, I will show you how I will not die.” So she takes him out to the courtyard and says, “I am going to go down into the burial vaults. No matter what you see or hear, you must not follow me in.” She goes down there while he remains up in the courtyard, and he hears her voice echoing up and sees strange lights and there is a clap of thunder and an earthquake and then she walks up and is like, “I will live now.” So she is either practicing witchcraft, or the author somehow thinks that earthquakes cure snake bites. I’m going with the former.
She says she has an uncle who “taught her things” but she doesn’t want to say anything because Ambrosio’s mind is still too closed to accept them. Yup, witchcraft. So they return to life as normal, but after about a week Ambrosio is already getting sick of her. He can’t stay away from the sex, but he is instantly revolted afterwards and has to go give himself a Silkwood scrub-down after they finish because she is impuuuuuuure. If there's one thing Ambrosio is good at, it's slut-shaming. Matilda/Rosario, on the other hand, only falls more in love with him as time goes on and can’t understand why he’s suddenly being distant. She’s all clingy and he’s all, “Ugh, woman, get off me. I’m going out for a beer with the guys. Don’t wait up.”
One day he’s taking confession and in walks the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen (except for Matilda and Agnes, who are also the most beautiful girls in the world, because that’s how these books work), and he instantly decides he must possess her. It turns out to be Antonia, because that gypsy had said she needed to watch out for men of the cloth, and things that gypsies say always come true.
So Antonia is like, “Father, I liked this boy, but he stopped courting me, so I don’t think he likes me any more. Also my mother is deathly ill and needs a confessor, and my aunt just left us and got married to some guy, and I’m all alone and vulnerable, won’t you please come help us?”
And he says, “BWAHAHAHAHA, MINE IS AN EVIL LAUGH.”
On a side note, Leonella gave up on Lorenzo's friend, What’s-His-Face, and got married to some other poor guy who is just using her for her inheritance money, because she’s old and gross and stupid to think that anyone could love her for her. One day I am going to be asked to write an academic introduction to a new edition of this book. And when that day comes, I will write everything I have learned from it, which is namely just, "STUPID WOMAN WITH YOUR FEEBLE BRAIN. WHEN YOUR BREASTS START TO SAG, YOU SHOULD JUST DIE". Leonella's presence in this story is incredibly pointless, except to give Antonia a guardian and then to leave her alone and vulnerable all of a sudden. And also, Lewis has a real thing against older women. Whatever.
So Ambrosio has this really messed up thing about Antonia, because what he loves about her is her purity and modesty. He doesn’t want to seduce her because that would lower her in his eyes. He wants to marry her, but he can’t. So you have all of this uncomfortable virgin worship, even as he’s lusting after her, and it’s all wrapped up in his Madonna/whore complex and his weird painting and relationship with Rosario/Matilda, and how he desires true innocence, but to attain his desires, he must wreck innocence, blah blah.
So he’s really confused and can’t stay away from Antonia. He keeps going to Elvira’s bedside because they think she’s going to die, so he takes her confession day after day and then spends time giving Antonia “religious instruction” and ingratiating himself with the family. Unfortunately for him, Elvira starts to recover and begins to think something funny is going on after she overhears Ambrosio and Antonia discussing some inappropriate topics. He realizes that he’s not going to be able to come around anymore if she is well, so he makes his move on Antonia by going to her bedroom, talking to her about the nature of love, and then thrusting his arm down her top without so much as a by-your-leave. And Antonia is so innocent that she's just like, "Well, this is kind of odd, isn't it? You have a hand on my bosom. Huh." Elvira shows up just in time and tells him she is all better now, and could he please get the HELL out of their house? So he leaves, resigned to the fact that he will never possess Antonia.
He is worried that Matilda/Rosario is going to find out that he's lusting after another girl. He can’t stand to be near Matilda/Rosario now because she’s a straight-up skank (even though she was innocent and gave up her innocence out of her love for him), but he is afraid that if he doesn’t placate her, she will reveal his secret to the other monks. Luckily for him, she is the world’s most gracious rejected lover and says, “It’s all cool. I will help you get Antonia with my magical powers. I can see she’s the one you really love, so let’s just be friends.” I think Matthew Lewis just forgot that a few chapters ago she was sooooooo in love with him and was all clingy and desperate. This is a total 180 for the character.
She says that if he signs his soul over to Satan, he can have unlimited power and possess Antonia and any other girl he wants at any time. He staunchly refuses. So she says that because she is his friend, she will give him a one-time free trial with the Prince of Darkness. Kinda like how your friend has a Netflix account so they can get you a one month trial, no-strings-attached. Only instead of watching streaming movies and renting DVDs, Ambrosio gets a one-time free pass for maximum raping power.
At first he’s all like, “I don’t even want to DABBLE with the unholy powers of Hell. No thank you.” But then Matilda whips out the same mirror they have in Beauty and the Beast that shows you any person you want. And he has this priceless scene that really does prove Matthew Lewis was a horny teenager when he wrote this book. Obviously Ambrosio asks to see Antonia in the mirror. Only, since this is a pervy, voyeuristic moment that is supposed to sway him over to the dark side, there is no way it can just be Antonia doing something normal, like eating or sleeping or chatting with her mother, LET ALONE doing something gross like clipping her toenails or pooping.
Nope. In scenes like this, the girl will ALWAYS be taking her clothes off. In Antonia’s case, she’s conveniently just about to get into the bathtub. So we get a nice long section about how she slowly takes off each article of clothing, but her innate sense of modesty still forces her to cover her boobs with her arms, lest any creep be using a magic mirror to spy on her at that exact moment. Until, OUT OF NOWHERE, a linnet bird flies toward her and, “nestled its head between her breasts, and nibbled them in wanton play. The smiling Antonia strove in vain to shake off the Bird, and at length raised her hands to drive it from its delightful harbour” (271).
What??? Is she bathing outside? Why is there suddenly a linnet bird in the room? If it's a pet, why isn't it in a cage? WHY does it dive-bomb her boobs like a sexual kamikaze? Don’t you HATE IT when random birds keep fondling you as you’re trying to take a bath? SO ANNOYING.
Anyway, as soon as he sees her boobs, Ambrosio goes, “Okay, fine, give me my free trial with Satan. But I won’t renounce God!” Because hypocrisy is the biggest sin of Catholic church. So Matilda/Rosario summons a demon who gives Ambrosio a magical flower. The flower will open any door it touches, so he can break into Antonia’s house. When he lays the flower on her pillow, it will knock her out until dawn, no matter what happens.
Then the story cuts back to Lorenzo, who is really depressed about his sister. He doesn’t believe that she is really dead, so he’s staking out the Convent hoping to see her. Finally a nun named Sister Ursula says that Agnes is absolutely dead—she saw the Mother Superior kill her—and Sister Ursula wants to expose the Mother Superior as a murderer. She tells him that he should prepare to have the Mother Superior arrested as they make their procession at the Festival of St. Clare in a couple of days.
Then we get back to Ambrosio who breaks into Antonia’s house and knocks out Antonia with the
roofie magic flower. He is just about to do the deed when Elvira comes in, having heard a noise. She makes to call the authorities and refuses to let him off the hook when he tries to give some really feeble excuse. This was the curse Agnes had predicted! Elvira shows him as little mercy for his failings as he showed Agnes! Although I don’t think you can really compare the “sin” of a nun having consensual sex with the sin of a priest raping someone.
Anyway, Elvira declares she will reveal him to the world, so he panics and strangles her. He naturally freaks out, having just killed someone, and decides that he can’t go through with his rape of Antonia, since he now associates her with this horrible event. Thank heaven for small miracles. He flees, leaving Antonia to wake up in the morning and deal with the body.
However, by the time he makes it back to the monastery, he decides that he actually MUST have Antonia at any cost. Oh, for the love of . . . why doesn’t he just go back there, then? Antonia’s unconscious, her mother is dead, and he is aided by the dark gift of magical hell-flowers. GAH. IF YOU'RE GOING TO DO IT, GET IT OVER WITH.
The next morning, Antonia wakes up, sees her dead mother and FLIPS HER WIG. The medical professionals in this book have a really stellar track record. They apparently can’t tell when someone has been strangled and say that Elvira must have died of a seizure. *FACEPALM*
Because there aren’t enough implausibly inconvenient hauntings in this book, Antonia then gets visited by the ghost of her mother who says they’ll be together again in 3 days. She goes spastic and falls into a . . . stupor? Coma? Psychosomatic vegetative state? Something. So, because no one but Elvira knew that Father Ambrosio was a bad ‘un, the servants immediately go to the monastery and beg him, as a friend of the family, to come take care of Antonia in her illness.
Friar Lawrence Matilda/Rosario gives him a potion to give to Antonia which will make her look like she’s dead for two days, before reviving on the third day. Antonia will be brought to the church vaults for burial and he can take possession of her there when she revives, away from prying eyes. Yeah, because THAT PLAN has never gone wrong before or anything. He gives the potion to Antonia, who “dies”, the servants all start crying and pack her body up and send it to the monastery vaults. She will come back to life on the night of the Festival of St. Clare.
Gee, do you think festival could possibly be the climax of the novel?
END PART THREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE