The Monk (pages 91-191)

The second section of The Monk is the backstory of Raymond, also known as Marquis de las Cisternas, who just happens to be in love with Lorenzo’s sister, Agnes.

After leaving university in Spain, Raymond goes country-hopping:  first to Paris, then Germany.  Germany is where he finds himself in a pickle.

He has been traveling with his company a long way, and he wants to find a place to stop for the night.  Seeing none because they are basically in the middle of nowhere, he makes the decision to keep going.  Until one of his servants speaks up, saying he knows a friend who has a cottage nearby.  The friend, Baptiste (which may be homage to a character in Voltaire’s Candide), seems nice enough, and definitely hospitable to offer them rooms in his house.  A baroness of Germany is staying there as well.

But their host is far from amiable.  He’s more than messed up.  At dinner, he slips them drinks with sleeping pills in them or something.  The host’s wife, Marguerite, catches Raymond’s eye and signals to him not to drink it.  Unfortunately, the baroness doesn’t see the signal, so she passes out.  After a skirmish with Baptiste, Raymond and the baroness make their escape and are on the road again, towards Strasbourg.

Once at Castle Lindenberg, Raymond finds – and falls in love with – Agnes.  In order to get close to her and get her family’s approval, he spends a lot of time with her aunt.  Who thinks Raymond likes her, not Agnes.  If that’s not awkward, I don’t know what is.

Anyway, Raymond and Agnes make plans to elope.  Which seems all cute and OTP and fool-proof – until they’re not.  The plan was that Agnes would dress up as the Bleeding Nun and leave the castle unnoticed.  But when the clock strikes midnight – or one a.m. or whatever – things get messed up.  Raymond makes off with the real Bleeding Nun instead of Agnes.

In class on Friday, we talked about the Bleeding Nun – how she challenges the concept of a nun, may be a parallel for Agnes, etc.  It was really interesting.

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