The Monk

The Monk Irony

"the better to escape the gaze of such impure eyes as belong to yourself and your humble servant" (pg. 28) (situational irony)

Excitedly, Christoval returns to the Church of the Capuchins to inform Lorenzo that the nuns of St. Clare are coming to the church in order to attend confession with Ambrosio. He explains that the Prioress of the convent leads them there after dusk, "the better to escape the gaze of such impure eyes as belong to yourself and your humble servant" (pg. 28).

Christoval is such a scoundrel in that he does not hesitate to ogle women who are sworn to God, and he is quite resourceful at finding out the best ways to do this. However, he is not a cruel or violent character, unlike many others in the narrative.

"She began to amuse herself by knocking about the tables and chairs in the middle of the night. Perhaps she was a bad sleeper, but this I have never been able to ascertain" (pg. 149) (verbal irony)

In relating the legend of the Bleeding Nun to Raymond, Agnes makes extensive use of irony to show her lack of regard for this legend; this quote is an instance of such irony.

This description is doubly ironic. Obviously a ghost cannot be a sleeper, much less a bad one. Additionally, the image of a bloody ghost accidentally knocking into furniture is deeply ironic. The use of irony in this section emphasizes Agnes' playful nature, which has endeared her so deeply to Raymond.

"Had she made her application to the Marquis but one day sooner, received as his niece and placed at the head of his family, she would have escaped all the misfortunes with which she was now threatened. Raymond had always intended to execute this plan: but first, his hopes of making the proposal to Elvira through the lips of Agnes, and afterwards, his disappointment at losing his intended bride [...] made him defer from day to day the giving asylum in his house to his brother's widow. He has commissioned Lorenzo to supply her liberally with money: but Elvira, unwilling to receive obligations from that nobleman, had assured him that she needed no immediate pecuniary assistance" (pg. 328) (dramatic irony)

After the death of her mother, Antonia desperate seeks protection from her relative Raymond, the Marquis de las Cisternas. However, her letter is derailed due to the unforeseen circumstances described in this quote.

Antonia, though she does not know it, is in terrible danger from Ambrosio. She writes to Raymond, but as luck would have it, he is confined due to his grief at losing Agnes. Lorenzo is willing to help her, but Elvira had banned him from the house. Ironically, the attempt of Antonia's mother to protect her daughter has actually placed her in even more terrible danger.

"Had you resisted me one minute longer, you had saved body and soul. The guards whom you heard at your prison door came to signify your pardon" (pg. 448) (dramatic irony)

When Ambrosio is taken captive by the Inquisition and threatened with execution, he is tempted to accept demonic assistance in order to free himself from this fate. It is only when the guards come to his door on the night of his execution that he finally signs his soul over to the devil. However, the devil soon reveals the truth to Ambrosio: the guards were coming to pardon him, not to execute him.

If Ambrosio had shown only a little faith (an important quality for a churchman to have), he would have lived the rest of his long life unhindered. But it was his self-centeredness led him to accept demonic assistance, which ended his life far earlier and in a more terrible fashion than the Inquisition ever could.