Thursday, October 8, 2015
This ENTIRE section of the novel--about 130 pages out of 400+ -- has been Don Raymond explaining to Don Lorenzo how he just happened to get Agnes the nun pregnant. Remember Agnes the nun? Lorenzo, her brother, demands a good explanation or else. So Raymond goes into this incredibly long story:
He traveled around Europe under an assumed name so nobody would suck up to him or rob him for being a noble. In a forest, he gets into trouble with some banditti! (Banditti must have been much more exciting to 18th-century novel readers than they are to me.) This other duchess lady is in trouble too, and Raymond saves her. Though not all his servants--they all die. Anyway, the duchess is grateful and invites Raymond to stay, whereupon he meets Agnes.
Agnes is doomed to nunhood by her superstitious parents (all the heroes of the novel scorn superstition, by which they mean being a devout Catholic. As we know, English Gothic novels are mostly extremely anti-Catholic!), but she falls in love with Raymond instead. This part gets really goofy. Agnes sneaks out to meet Raymond and promises to elope with him as long as he promises to respect her honor until they can get married. But she is going to sneak back in to her castle and then sneak out again later; she can't run away right now for some unexplained reason. She has a cunning, complicated plan in which she will dress up as the Bleeding Nun, which is the family ghost. Thus disguised, she will be able to walk right out of the castle!
Raymond waits outside at the appointed time. The Nun shows up, and off they go. But there's storms and lightning and the horses freak out and they crash! This is because the Nun isn't Agnes at all; it's the actual Bleeding Nun, but Raymond doesn't know that (because, of course, she's wearing a veil. All these veils are very exasperating. How on earth is a woman running away in the dark supposed to see where she's going if she's wearing a veil anyway?). This winds up kind of taking the insanity out of the story; he's eloping with a ghost nun!! But that does not become clear for a long time, until he recovers from his injuries and she starts haunting him. The Wandering Jew (!!) shows up and gets rid of her.
Meanwhile, Agnes got delayed and didn't find her lover waiting for her, and got caught. So she figures she's been abandoned and she might as well be a nun after all.
(This is still Raymond's explanation, by the way.)
Crushed, Raymond returns to Madrid. Agnes is a nun, but where? He finally figures out where she is and gets a job as a gardener. He gets hold of Agnes, they reconcile, and start meeting. They plan to elope, again! (Oh, by the way, this exact thing is what made the Bleeding Nun a ghost; she abandoned her vows.) One night while planning, they get a little hot and heavy and forget themselves in a moment of passion. Either that or Raymond flat-out forces himself upon Agnes, it's completely unclear. Afterwards Agnes regrets everything and tells Raymond to go away forever. Until months later, when she gets a letter to him. She nourishes his Child in her Bosom, and must get away before her condition is noticed. (Ahem. At this point Lorenzo announces that he ought to kill Raymond, but "the temptation was too great to be resisted" so never mind. Yeah.)
So yet again they plan an elopement, and as we already know, Agnes gets caught. Lorenzo goes to the convent and demands to see his sister, but the prioress denies him completely. She's sick! (Sounds legit.) And a week later, Agnes is pronounced dead.
So, is Agnes dead? Or is she starving in an oubliette? I don't think we're going to see any more of her alive, but perhaps a new Bleeding Nun will appear!
This part was really kind of disappointing, with the incredibly long story of Raymond's adventures. Still, accidentally eloping with a ghost nun and then getting fixed up by the Wandering Jew is pretty entertaining. Next chapter is back to Ambrosio and Rosario/Matilda, still in exactly the same moment in which we left them about four chapters back, so I'm looking forward to that!
Maybe I should have written so much. But I have a bunch of opinions even if it was kind of a boring bit.