The Monkalong is at an end!*
Let's compare some characters and then go to bed, because it's almost midnight and I still have to blow-dry my hair.
Agnes: Survives being dosed with a heavy opiate, being buried alive, giving birth by herself in a dungeon, and being systematically starved physically and emotionally. Sits in the parlor and calmly tells her friends all about it.
|"Right, so then I gazed at my baby's decomposing face to pass the time...."|
Don Raymond: Gets really, really sad about Agnes and almost dies. Gets really, really happy about Agnes and almost dies.
|Don Raymond after a vigorous sneeze|
The prioress of St. Clare: Exhibits cruelty and selfishness that leads to the death of an infant. Is publicly shamed and beaten to a bloody pulp in the streets.
Ambrosio: Exhibits cruelty and selfishness that leads him to defile Antonia (one kind of death) and then stab her twice in the chest (actual muuuuurrrrrder). Is kicked out of the Capuchin order and turned over to the Inquisition and I don't know what else because I haven't finished the last chapter yet but it better not be a fair trial and house arrest.
I would settle for Agnes's hunting him down and tying him naked in the town square with a giant letter H for hypocrite carved in his chest. And maybe some rocks casually scattered nearby.
While we're on the subject of Antonia's defilement, I know that virginity was everything back then, but that doesn't make it any less sickening to read things like
She told him, that had she still been undefiled she might have lamented the loss of life; but that, deprived of honour and branded with shame, death was to her a blessing: she could not have been his wife; and that hope being denied her, she resigned herself to the grave without one sigh of regret.
It's passages like this that show us we've made some progress in dispelling the myth of purity, but there are other places that suggest rape culture hasn't changed at all in a hundred years. Like when Ambrosio's championship levels of victim blaming---immediately after his elaborate scheme to possess Antonio results in his . . . well, possessing Antonia---don't sound all that unfamiliar to our modern ears.
And whom am I to thank for this? What seduced me into crimes, whose bare remembrance makes me shudder? Fatal witch! was it not thy beauty? Have you not plunged my soul into infamy? Have you not made me a perjured hypocrite, a ravisher, an assassin?
Thanks, Alice, for leading us through this insane book and getting us in the Halloween spirit! I'll probably go read the last chapter now.
*At the time of this writing, I have not yet finished the book, but FORMALITIES.