Project #5

"Homoeroticism in The Monk and Christabel" (Elizabeth, Monelle, Annemarie, Tara)


We will consider how Kosofsky Sedgwick's notion of the continuum of "male homosocial desire" (Between Men) is represented in The Monk and if we can find the point at which it is "disrupted", the place that insists on heterosexual attachment. However, by examining The Monk in a political context the issues surrounding the concept of 'the closet' take on new meaning. The closet then is not simply restricted to the issue of homosexuality, which is 'unveiled', though not completely, by the character Ambrosio. Rather, the closeted plotting of the monastic homoerotic plot can be read as a gesture of protection in defiance of the confessional state and in defiance of the culture that secularizes the homosexual. Both outlawed in the British confessional Protestant state, male homosexuality and Catholicism are marked by the history of topological substitutions.

We also intend to examine how "Christabel" is an example of the Gothic "disjunction of public values and private meaning" and how this becomes the "horror in these works" (Haggerty, "Literature and Homosexuality"). The idea of "intrinsic links" (Kosofsky Sedgwick "Toward the Gothic") corresponds to these concepts through the structures of personal relationships and public ideology.

As well, we will discuss the various historical readings of "Christabel", focusing especially on the character Geraldine and her relationship with Christabel. There seem to be many attempts to suppress, ignore, explain away or condemn suggestions of homosexuality within the poem. (Geraldine is a witch or a man...) We will argue for a less reductive treatment. We will also look at Coleridge's own views, especially in his defence of the poem and review of The Monk.



return to Gothic fiction

Document prepared December 1st 2000