Transvaluation, Realization, and Literalization of Clarissa in The Monk
D. L. Macdonald
Lorenzo‘s dream, at the beginning of Lewis‘s The Monk (1796), is closely based on Lovelace‘s dream, near the end of Richardson‘s Clarissa (1747-48); the realization of Lorenzo‘s dream, in the rape and murder of Antonia at the end of Lewis‘s novel, is based closely on Clarissa‘s dream, near the beginning of Richardson‘s. Lewis consistently (in the terms Gérard Genette uses in Palimpsests) devalues Lovelace‘s dream and revalues Clarissa‘s, achieving a transvaluation of Richardson‘s novel. He also literalizes many of Richardson‘s metaphors, a process which, as Tzvetan Todorov argues in The Fantastic, is essential to the fantastic, and which as Margaret Homans argues in Bearing the Word, enables the articulation of womens experiences. As a result, The Monk, despite its conflicted sexual politics, does contribute to the feminization of fiction that was part of the historical project of the Gothic.