The Queer Dionysian Satan Essays

In the Christian tradition, Satan is commonly accepted as a hideous and monstrous being in direct contrast to God’s graceful mercy, often a shadowy figure with little depth. Yet there exists another very gothic view of this figure, as demonstrated by Milton in Paradise Lost, of a long suffering villain who appears more tragic artist than ultimate deceiver. The Monk, by Matthew Lewis, makes use of more tragic and mythical elements to make something altogether different, a Dionysian figure. Lewis uses such descriptive speech, symbols, and themes all connected to Greek myth to present a chaos creating character who transgresses not only God, but societal boundaries. While transgressions have been profusely researched in Gothic literature, the Dionysian myth connected to the Daemon spirit have been overlooked. I will reveal how much the scene of Ambrosio’s first meeting with Satan draws upon myths, symbols, and perceptions of the Greek God, and furthermore why these connections exist and reinforce the gothic genre.Before unraveling the scene of Ambrosio and the fallen angle it is necessary to give a short general history of Dionysus, as it relates to this passage. Dionysus was born to a human mother Semele, who burns after seeing Zeus in his true form (Hamilton 65). Zeus saves the child and places him to be raised among nymphs, associated with “the stars which bring rain when they near the horizon” (65) and in this way Dionysus was “born of fire and nursed by rain” (65). Imagery of the vine also helps perpetuate the God’s yearly death, causing him to be torn apart every winter, as well as influencing the Maenads, a group of frenzied woman who run tearing apart anything in their path. While wine can bring joy, these sinister aspects …

…rprising that queerness exists, showing fears of non-normative sexuality, which like Dionysus is uncivilized. The beauty of gothic literature is that a monster-villain is never just a monster-villain, but something deeper psychologically. In this case, Satan is the queer Greek Dionysus, and in the future this connection between Dionysus and other monsters in Gothic literature should be researched, as the only way to see status and power is to look at who lacks or subverts it.Works Cited

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Abrams, M.H. “Gothic Novel.” A Glossary of Literary Terms. 9th ed. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009. 137-8. Print.Aristophanes. The Frogs. Public Domain, 2005. Kindle.Hamilton, Edith. “The Two Great Gods of Earth: Dionysus or Bacchus.” Mythology. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1942. 64-76. Print.Lewis, Matthew. The Monk: A Romance. London: Penguin, 1998. Print.

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