YMMV / The Monk

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
  • Complete Monster: Ambrosio, the eponymous character, is an epitome of a Sinister Minister character type and the story is about him falling from grace after being tempted to sin. The first scene showing him preaching to the audience hints at his prideful nature. After breaking his vow of chastity Ambrosio jumps to committing kidnapping, Black Magic, rape, murder and incest before selling his own soul to Satan, the only supernatural element left unambiguous in the whole story.
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome: Mother St. Ursula publicly confronting the prioress.
  • Cry for the Devil: Despite being an awful human being, reading about Ambrosio's torture at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition and his fate and the Awful Truth from Satan himself, can make one feel that his punishment is a trifle excessive and that the society he committed these crimes in, is scarcely better than him. The fact that they initially wanted to cover-up his and Rosario's crimes for fears of angering the mob even more, and that Ambrosio was apparently pardoned at the last moment, if Satan is to believed, proves that Society Is to Blame.
  • Fridge Horror: The conspiracy of nuns who knew Agnes was still alive were all killed by the angry mob. If Lorenzo hadn't come across the secret of the statue, she might have never been found.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The over-the-top nature of this novel's portrayal of church corruption and cover-ups, and priest and nuns abusing and torturing their charges becomes a lot less mild when compared to the revelations of the Magdalene Sisters and the sex-abuse scandals.
  • Older Than They Think: The scenes between Raymond and the Bleeding Nun are interestingly similar to Jonathan Harker's encounter several decades later with the three brides of Count Dracula...
    • Agnes' narrative style when she tells the story of the Bleeding Nun also bears a striking resemblance to Henry Tilney's in his famous monologue parodying Gothic literature in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, which also references The Monk at a different point.
  • Values Dissonance: Inevitable when reading an 18th century work as a 21st century reader. Sex Is Evil and Defiled Forever are in effect, to an extent, Arranged Marriages are the norm, and the tale relies heavily on the Religious Horror of Ambrosio's gradual corruption and ultimate damnation in Hell, which may not be particularly effective depending on the reader. That being said...
  • Values Resonance: The tale's unequivocal condemnation of hypocrisy, particularly religious hypocrisy, will likely resonate in the current climate. Likewise, one of the sub plots subvert Defiled Forever, with the victim of a rape and forced marriage being welcomed back by her father, and shown living happily. And on a less serious note, another sub plot deals with a bishop dealing with a superstitious, exaggerative whiner, and taking it about as seriously as you'd imagine.