Do you remember how I said, in the first week, that maybe Ambrosio would be more tolerable after he'd experienced some good old-fashioned human frailty. WELL I TAKE IT BACK. Dude had a little sex and is now a straight-up villain.
And he's the very worst kind of villain, the kind who's still convinced that he's the hero. Even Lucifer doesn't want anything to do with him.
Although Matilda is instrumental in Ambrosio's downfall, I appreciate that Lewis is deliberate in pointing out that her lady-powers of seduction didn't single-handedly transform Ambrosio overnight into a prideful, predatory pervert. He's always had the anatomy of that particular beast, thanks to those damned monks, who "were busied in rooting out his virtues, and narrowing his sentiments" since he was a very young child, encouraging the worst of his natural qualities and suppressing the best. You might say that they created a monster.
|Now we just need him to realize that.|
The most excruciating scene for me this week was when Ambrosio first visits the Dalfas and sits by Elvira's sickbed. If we didn't know that Ambrosio was there for self-serving, lascivious reasons, we could read that scene as incredibly sentimental: a reunion between mother and son and brother and sister, unbeknownst to any of them consciously but deeply felt by them subconsciously.
Which makes it all the more impressive that Elvira is able to see through his act and willing to put an immediate end to it. Her mother's instinct is triggered when she first speaks to Ambrosio. She senses that they're connected somehow. So that feeling must then fundamentally clash with her mother's instinct concerning Antonia. It would be so tempting for her to ignore all the warning bells, but she doesn't even question them. She's like,
Also she says this: "And so he fell from heaven, Antonia? He must have had a terrible tumble."
That probably doesn't excuse that she rewrote Antonia's Bible and almost certainly left out Song of Solomon. Every teenage girl needs Song of Solomon so she'll have something juicy to read when she can't stay awake in church.
I'm having some trouble understanding the deeper deal with Matilda. We didn't know Rosario all that well before he revealed himself to be a she, but Ambrosio seems to think Matilda's changed a lot since she made a pact with the devil to bring herself back from the brink of death.
Now she assumed a sort of courage and manliness in her manners and discourse, but ill calculated to please him.
|I mean what is she even good for now?|
Most of the things Ambrosio complains about in what is a pretty long paragraph in the book are admirable qualities in either sex (just put that "negative" description of Matilda next to any gushing description of Antonia and it's obvious who would be the more stimulating companion), but I can't help noticing that Matilda also seems to have misplaced her humanity. When she gives that little speech about how Agnes deserves whatever she gets because she shouldn't have had sex if she didn't know how not to get caught, it does sort of seem like . . . she might have sold her soul. Her soul might literally be gone at this point.
And if that is what Lewis is saying, then is he also saying that the soul is the source of femininity? He believes that pity is a strictly feminine quality, but he also believes that a warm climate will naturally make women super horny. I don't know about Spanish ladies, but no one is allowed to touch me in hot weather. I'll be very stern with anyone who tries.
The only thing I'm sure of at this point, almost three quarters of the way through the book, is that Antonia is about to be violated in the most heinous manner and rereading this whole page about Emo Leonella will be my happy place when I just can't cope.
Every evening she was seen straying upon the banks of a rivulet by moonlight; and she declared herself a violent admirer of murmuring streams and nightingales.
|Emergency reinforcements can't hurt|