[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/TheMonk_7253.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:300:Pride goeth before the fall indeed.]]
First published in 1796, ''The Monk'' is considered a classic of GothicFiction and one of the most influential novels of the genre, though some also consider it to be something of an AffectionateParody as well. It was published almost thirty years after ''Literature/TheCastleOfOtranto'', which is considered to be the first Gothic novel. The author, Matthew Gregory Lewis, was a [[TeenGenius nineteen-year-old]] English diplomat who penned the novel in a mere ten weeks. The book became an instant success, scandalizing and entrancing the reading public. None of his other works were nearly so successful as this first effort. Indeed, the work was so strongly identified as [[OneHitWonder Lewis's greatest success]] that he was, and is, referred to as [[OnlyKnownByTheirNickname "Monk" Lewis]].

Madrid, Spain, in the time of the UsefulNotes/SpanishInquisition. Mere minutes after the cathedral doors open, the pews are packed with people who have come to hear the famous monk Ambrosio give his sermon. Ambrosio is young, [[SexyPriest handsome]], and considered incorruptible because he has never broken a rule of his order. But Ambrosio, for all his holiness, is a proud man. In the crowd waiting to hear Ambrosio are a [[TheIngenue young girl]], Antonia, and her MaidenAunt, Leonella, who meet a pair of young and gallant men, Don Lorenzo and Don Christoval. Antonia and Lorenzo fall in LoveAtFirstSight and Lorenzo vows to marry her.

Meanwhile, Lorenzo's sister Agnes, who was forced/tricked by her guardians into taking the vows of a Nun against her will, is plotting to escape from the neighboring convent before they discover the fact that she's pregnant with the child of her lover Raymond (who also happens to be Lorenzo's best friend and Antonia's uncle). They had planned to run away together long ago in a scheme that involved Agnes disguising herself as her family's castle's resident ghost the Bleeding Nun, but it backfired when the woman Raymond whisked into his carriage turned out to be someone else, whose bloody nun garb ''wasn't'' a disguise... By the time a mysterious man of unexplained origins and supernatural powers freed Raymond from his supernatural StalkerWithACrush, it was too late. Their situation is now desperate... and it gets worse when a message between them is intercepted by none other than Ambrosio.

After his sermon, Ambrosio meets a [[TheApprentice young student of his]] named Rosario, but it seems to him that Rosario is out of sorts today. Indeed, Rosario tells him a sad story of [[IHaveThisFriend his sister]] Matilda who loved a man who spurned her, and she died. When Ambrosio is sympathetic to Matilda's tragedy, Rosario reveals that [[SweetPollyOliver he is actually Matilda]] and [[StalkerWithACrush Ambrosio is her beloved]]. Ambrosio tells her to leave the monastery at once, but her determination to [[DrivenToSuicide kill herself]] if she has to leave makes him waver. Slowly but surely, Matilda convinces Ambrosio that she should be allowed to stay, even though she's a woman. That it would not be a problem for them to love each other. That it would not be a sin to [[SexIsEvilAndIAmHorny break their vows of chastity]].

But this is only the beginning of Ambrosio's descent into sin, and soon all of their paths will collide tragically. It got worse is an understatement.

An e-text is available from [[http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/601 Project Gutenberg.]]
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!! ''The Monk'' provides examples of:

* AbhorrentAdmirer: Leonella is in love with the younger Don Christoval and is convinced he is in love with her. He thinks she's a silly old spinster.
* AnguishedDeclarationOfLove: Matilda makes one to Ambrosio, but later events make this confession of hers suspect.
* ArousedByTheirVoice: Ambrosio's first sermon in the book is clearly presented as an example as he's got half of Madrid swooning in his church.
* BetaCouple: Raymond and Agnes.
* BigDamnHeroes: Lorenzo does his best to do this when he tries to save Antonia [[spoiler: but she's already dying and she says it's all right since she's been defiled.]]
* BlackMagic: So Ambrosio can seduce Antonia.
* BrainFever: Raymond after he gets words of Agnes' "death."
* BrotherSisterIncest[=/=]SurpriseIncest: It's a Gothic novel, it had to happen somewhere. [[spoiler: As it turns out, Antonia and Ambrosio have the same mother. As if his raping her wasn't bad enough.]]
* BuriedAlive: Ambrosio keeps Antonia in [[AncientTomb a tomb]] for a while.
* CharacterTitle: Ambrosio being the monk.
* ClothingDamage: Deliberately done by Matilda to tempt Ambrosio.
* CreepyCathedral: And creepy monastery and creepy nunnery.
* CruelAndUnusualDeath: Even for a woman as heartless as the prioress. She gets ripped to shreds by an angry mob.
* DealWithTheDevil: Towards the end when Ambrosio finds himself in way over his head, Matilda tells him if he will give his soul to Satan, he can be saved from the angry mob. Ambrosio accepts.
* DefiledForever: [[spoiler: Antonia's]] rapist's enabler cites this as a reason to kill her, and she tells her suitor that she doesn't mind dying since being raped means she couldn't have married him. However, other female characters like Marguerite (who was raped by her second "husband") and Agnes (who became pregnant not only out of marriage, but while she was a nun) defy this trope and manage to have happy lives afterward; in fact, Marguerite's parents are specified as overjoyed to have her back and dissuade her from entering a convent.
* {{Demons}}: Matilda very likely is one.
* DisappearedDad: Antonia's father dies before the events of the story, leaving her to be raised in relative poverty and obscurity.
* DistressedDamsel: Agnes and Antonia both get their chance to fill this roll.
* DoorstopBaby: The only thing anybody knows about Ambrosio's origins.
* DreamingOfThingsToCome: Lorenzo has a nightmare in which his wedding to Antonia is interrupted by a monster.
* DrivenToSuicide: Matilda swears that if she can't have Ambrosio or at least be near him, she will kill herself. This threat goes away later for reasons unexplained.
* DumbassHasAPoint: Despite the fact that Leonella is generally ridiculous, she immediately dislikes Ambrosio and points out that his sermon was severe, stern, and frankly terrifying, all of which hint his true nature before be becomes the viewpoint character.
* EyeScream: As part of Ambrosio's fate.
* FaithHeelTurn: Ambrosio.
* FatalFlaw: Ambrosio commits the sin of pride long before he starts committing any of his truly deplorable acts. It is his pride that allows him to believe himself holy while he continues to sin.
* ForcefulKiss: Given Ambrosio believes he is committing rape out of love, this isn't surprising.
* FortuneTeller: A "gipsy" palm-reader early in the story makes fun of Leonella for pursuing younger men, then warns Antonia about [[spoiler:her inescapable doom]].
* FourLinesAllWaiting: There are many, many storylines. It's not uncommon not to see our titular monk for chapters at a time.
** Ambrosio and his affair with Matilda and subsequent obsession with Antonia.
** Lorenzo and his efforts to marry Antonia.
** Raymond and his efforts to free Agnes from the convent.
** Elvira and her efforts to protect Antonia from a bad marriage.
** Several [[{{NestedStory}} Nested Stories]] concerning characters who aren't really important to the plot told within each of these plotlines. Not to mention a number of poems that go on for two or more pages.
* GenreSavvy: Theodore
* GhostStory: There's a very long detour from the main plot to tell one.
* HairOfGoldHeartOfGold: Played straight with Antonia and initially with Matilda as well. This is emphasized by a portrait of the Virgin Mary that was painted using Matilda as the model.
* HauntedCastle: The whole business with the bleeding nun.
* TheHeretic: Ambrosio becomes one when his crimes are finally exposed.
* HeroAntagonist: Lorenzo de Medina.
* HolierThanThou: This is how Ambrosio justifies having sex with Matilda even after he exposed a young nun for having a lover. He's just that awesome.
* HookedUpAfterwards: Lorenzo and Virginia.
* HotForPreacher: Averted. Ambrosio mistakes Antonia as returning his passion when she claims to love him, but she is so innocent, she barely understands what romantic, let alone sexual, feelings are.
** Most of Madrid's women on the other hand seem to play this straight.
* HypercompetentSidekick: Theodore is not only more competent than his friend/master Raymond but than almost everyone in the novel.
* TheIngenue: Antonia, who is only fifteen when the book opens, and extremely sheltered from having grown up in an isolated castle with her mother. She even read an edited version of the Bible because her mother believed the text to be too violent.
* IncorruptiblePurePureness: This is interestingly the quality about women that Ambrosio lusts after. When it turns out that purty can indeed be corrupted, he turns petulant and spiteful.
* InnocentBlueEyes: Antonia.
* InnocenceVirginOnStupidity: Antonia, to the point where she theorizes that Ambrosio was "born in the abbey."
* JackassGenie: Satan promised to take Ambrosio out of the dungeon. He made no promises about where Ambrosio would be going to get out.
* LadyOfBlackMagic: Matilda is a woman of many talents.
* LemonyNarrator: Agnes, when she tells Raymond the ghost story of The Bleeding Nun.
* LightFeminineAndDarkFeminine: Antonia and Matilda, as highlighted by Ambrosio's interest in both of them, comparing and the roles each of them play in the story.
* LoveAtFirstSight: Lorenzo knows after his first meeting with Antonia that he's in love.
* LoveBeforeFirstSight: Virginia for Lorenzo, based on all she's heard about him from Agnes.
* LoveTriangle: Lorenzo and Antonia are in love. Too bad for them, Ambrosio wants Antonia, too.
* MadonnaWhoreComplex: Certainly the view of Ambrosio, who tires of Matilda [[spoiler: and Antonia for that matter]] after she is no longer "pure." Lewis himself seems to take a less extreme stance on the matter, painting [[spoiler: Antonia]] as an innocent victim.
** Ambrosio initially lusts after Matilda (before he ever meets her) in the form of a painting of the Virgin Mary. After he tires of her, he throws the painting to the ground and snarls, "Prostitute."
* MaidenAunt: Leonella, the sister of Antonia's mother.
* AManIsNotAVirgin: Initially averted and later played straight with Ambrosio when he breaks his vow of chastity with Matilda.
* [[{{Patricide}} Matricide]]: [[spoiler: Ambrosio kills Elvira, who it turns out is his mother.]]
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: In the manner of all Gothic fiction, there are elements of the story that the characters can't discern as natural or supernatural. Much of the suspense and horror of the story derives from this. [[spoiler: Ultimately the supernatural is proven to be real in this world, but that only resolves things that have happened to Ambrosio. Appearances of ghosts and the like are never explained.]]
* MoralEventHorizon: [[ValuesDissonance Invoked at several points]] in the text, but when Ambrosio makes his DealWithTheDevil, it's obvious that according to the rules of the story, he's gone too far.
* MySecretPregnancy: Agnes tries to hide that she is pregnant with Raymond's child. This of course fails after a while.
* MySisterIsOffLimits: Lorenzo initially tries to do this with Agnes and Raymond because Agnes has already taken the veil, but changes his mind later.
* NaiveNewcomer: Antonia is so unused to life in the city that she doesn't know her custom of wearing a veil in public is considered old-fashioned.
* NestedStory: There are a few [[GothicHorror Gothic Tales]] peppering the main story, or making up part of some characters' backstories.
* OneDialogueTwoConversations: Don Christoval is just trying to be nice. Leonella swears he wants her.
* OneThingLedToAnother: Raymond's explanation to Lorenzo for how Agnes ended up pregnant with his child.
* OnlyOneName: Several characters are only given one name, but the one we can be sure only ''has'' one name is Ambrosio, who was found as a baby.
* ParentalAbandonment: Ambrosio was raised in a monastery after having been left there as a baby. [[spoiler:It was actually his grandfather who abandoned him, then pretended he died]].
* ParentalMarriageVeto: The reason Antonia was raised away from Madrid is her parents had to flee from her father's parents when they disapproved of his marriage.
** Elvira thus is very protective of her daughter's marriage prospects and insists Lorenzo receive permission before getting too interested in Antonia.
* PoorCommunicationKills: Many of the problems in the story--rapes, murders, kidnappings, destitution--could have been avoided if Lorenzo and Raymond pulled their considerable influence together since Agnes was Lorenzo's sister and Antonia was Raymond's niece. They ''do'' spend most of the book trying to do just this, but wheels of justice move slowly.
* PowderKegCrowd: And it gets set off when they believe Agnes died during her imprisonment. They tear the prioress to shreds and then go after any nun they can find, destroying the convent in the process.
* PregnantHostage: Agnes is locked away by the prioress after her pregnancy is discovered. She gives birth in captivity.
* PsychologicalHorror: The characters experiences make them wonder more than once if they are going mad.
* RapeAsBackstory: Theodore's mother, Marguerite. Given a chance, she's able to move past it without being DefiledForever.
* RapeIsLove: This is Antonio's justification for raping [[spoiler: Antonia]]. Of course, afterward he is disgusted with her because she is no longer pure and kills her.
* RealAfterAll: The Bleeding Nun
* ReligiousHorror: One of the oldest examples.
* ReplacementGoldfish: Virginia for Lorenzo after Antonia's death.
* RomanceNovel: The subtitle is "A Romance." And to be fair, one couple actually does get together in the end.
* {{Satan}}: He makes an appearance.
* SexAsRiteOfPassage: A twisted version, as Ambrosio giving in to his sexual desire for the first time is his point of no return.
* SexIsEvilAndIAmHorny: Pretty much Ambrosio's attitude when he first sleeps with Matilda. The guilt goes away really quickly.
* SexyPriest: Ambrosio is described as being very attractive, and is obviously popular with the ladies of his congregation.
* ShoutOut: 4 characters share their names with characters in ''TheCastleOfOtranto'' (Matilda, Theodore, Conrad, and Jerome).
* SiblingYinYang: [[spoiler: Ambrosio and Antonia couldn't be more unlike each other as he is an unrepentant sinner and she is almost inhumanly pure. Further underscored by their complexions--Ambrosio is dark, black-eyed and black-haired. Antonia is blond, blue-eyed, and pale.]]
* SinisterMinister: Ambrosio the TropeMaker in fiction, who even before his fall from grace immediately reveals himself to be prideful.
* UsefulNotes/SpanishInquisition: The setting of the novel.
* StalkerWithACrush: Ambrosio becomes obsessed with Antonia because of her purity and goodness.
* SuckOutThePoison: Matilda claims she saved Ambrosio from a venomous snake thus.
* SupernaturalAid: Subverted. Satan doesn't care about helping you. He just wants your soul.
* SweetPollyOliver: Rosario, who quickly soon reveals himself to be a woman named Matilda.
* TheTalk: Strangely enough for an 18th-century novel, and for a church scene, Antonia almost gets one of these in the first chapter from her busybody MaidenAunt. Luckily for the reader and for Antonia, Ambrosio's entrance interrupts.
* TalkingDownTheSuicidal: Matilda initially threatens to kill herself when Ambrosio will not return her love. Ambrosio desperately tries to convince her it really is for the best if she leaves the monastery.
* TeacherStudentRomance: Matilda initially seems to want this, claiming to have dressed as a man and entered the monastery to be close to Ambrosio, and even later when she starts seeking his love in return. She seems to get bored of him about as fast as he gets bored of her, though.
* TheVamp: Matilda fills this role, particularly if you read her character as deliberately leading Ambrosio astray rather than merely acting as a temptation.
* VillainProtagonist: Ambrosio, who was never a particularly nice or forgiving person to begin with, quickly falls from what grace he had and over the course of the story gets involved in BlackMagic, [[RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil rape]], [[spoiler: incest]] and murder.
* VillainousCrush: Ambrosio's deepening obsession with Antonia.
* WomanScorned: Agnes' aunt; she even sends assassins after him.
* WoundedGazelleGambit: Matilda pretends that she is poisoned and dying in order to break Ambrosio's defenses down so he will sleep with her.

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