Sunday, November 18, 2007

Abstractly Writing

I had no idea how to write an abstract, so I tried to copy what our examples did. We'll see if she accepts it or if I have to rewrite it...

Broken vows of chastity, a bastard child born and dead in a crypt beneath a convent, and a monk who rapes and murders his own sister: in Matthew Lewis’s The Monk, sexual aberrations abound. The characters who are free from these crimes or seek to rectify their mistakes are men who have male friends. Using Eve Kosofsky Sedwick’s definition of homosocial, I argue that Lewis explores the role male friendship plays in the creation of virtuous, noble, and manly men, and that these relationships are responsible for the restoration of social and sexual order at the end of The Monk. Other scholars use Lewis’s suspected homosexuality to support the presence of homoerotic undertones within the novel. I argue instead for a reading that looks at the relationships between men in terms of fraternal and paternal friendships, demonstrating that what other critics may see as homosexual is actually homosocial. Lewis describes men who interact with one another—Lorenzo, Raymond, and Theodore—and then contrasts them with Ambrosio, a man who exists without male society. Ambrosio could have lived happily if he’d associated with men. Lewis is careful to describe Ambrosio as “possessed of many brilliant and manly qualities”, and he then insinuates the possibilities: if only Ambrosio had friends like Raymond and Lorenzo, if only he hadn’t lived shut off from society, and if only his manly qualities had not been suppressed and feminized by a woman. Instead, he dies broken and blaspheming, while his counterparts Raymond and Lorenzo end the novel in domestic bliss. I assert that in The Monk, Lewis explores ideas of what makes a man a man, and how a man of good character can fall into sin and temptation if he lives without homosocial relationships.

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