Dreams, magic terrors, spells of mighty power, Witches, and ghosts who rove at midnight hour.
It's said this was written by a 19/20 yr old and within 10 weeks, which if true, is amazing. The format of having a main character, Ambrosio (the monk), and then having secondary characters branch off from him and tangentially going astray and telling their stories, only to have them all come together in the end, was extremely compelling. I was expecting more creepiness, it takes until the 50% mark for a ghost to appear:
At length the Clock struck two. The Apparition rose from her seat, and approached the side of the bed. She grasped with her icy fingers my hand which hung lifeless upon the Coverture, and pressing her cold lips to mine, again repeated, "Raymond! Raymond! Thou art mine! Raymond! Raymond! I am thine! &c.----" She then dropped my hand, quitted the chamber with slow steps, and the Door closed after her. Till that moment the faculties of my body had been all suspended; Those of my mind had alone been waking. The charm now ceased to operate: The blood which had been frozen in my veins rushed back to my heart with violence: I uttered a deep groan, and sank lifeless upon my pillow.
Until the last 30-20% the story is really about love, lust, and jealousy. As an atheist I don't hold religious individuals, rather they be in high ranking positions in the church, to a higher regard. I don't think it is any more crazy that a monk would give into his lust than an average non-religious male. (Not talking about Ambrosio's later desire to rape Antonia; he wants her and she doesn't want him. This is a different issue than him being turned on by Mathilda who willing wants to sleep with him) Religious individuals might find this story more, I don't know, worrisome because of the themes of non-infallibility regarding sin; no one is safe from the devil.
I did really enjoy how the author played around with the themes of religious doctrine and the hypocrisy/corruption of its supposed devout leaders, men putting the blame on women for their failings, jealousy, and power. If you read this looking for a Gothic, I think you'd hit the gold mine with it's verbiage and tone. Like I mentioned, the more creepy scenes didn't have a strong presence until the ending with the Devil making a strong appearance:
He appeared in all that ugliness which since his fall from heaven had been his portion: His blasted limbs still bore marks of the Almighty's thunder: A swarthy darkness spread itself over his gigantic form: His hands and feet were armed with long Talons: Fury glared in his eyes, which might have struck the bravest heart with terror: Over his huge shoulders waved two enormous sable wings; and his hair was supplied by living snakes, which twined themselves round his brows with frightful hissings. In one hand He held a roll of parchment, and in the other an iron pen. Still the lightning flashed around him, and the Thunder with repeated bursts, seemed to announce the dissolution of Nature.
This story had some twists and turns with characters having some pretty intriguing life stories. I didn't find it as outlandish as some reviews led me to believe it was going to be (a lot mention how Ambrosio lusts and rapes his sister. He didn't know it was his sister during his obsession, so calling him incestuous seems a bit unfair). I read a small amount of horror stories and watch a ton of horror movies so maybe my creep/crazy bar is set too high but I did notice two movies were made about this and Netflix has the 2011 on DVD so I'll be adding it to the queue.
Man was born for society. However little He may be attached to the World, He never can wholly forget it, or bear to be wholly forgotten by it.