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The Monk: A Romance by Matthew Gregory Lewis was originally published in 1796. It was a typical novel of the “Gothic” genre, which was typified by dramatic, convoluted plots, horror, supernatural occurrences, and “damsels in distress.” One frequent element in the Gothic is a chaste, virtuous, noble (but often poor, powerless, or orphaned) young woman whose virginity is threatened by an evil, wealthy, powerful man.

In The Monk , sexuality is deeply intertwined with morality, with “good” women being chaste and immoral women being sexually predatory. Much of the novel revolves around dynamics of sexual control and morality, with virtuous women resisting inappropriate sexual advances, bad women displaying the vice of lust, and flawed but redeemable women partially yielding (albeit passively) to male sexuality—but themselves not actively soliciting sexual...

(The entire section contains 421 words.)

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