Matthew Lewis, The Monk (1796), p. 380

Suddenly deprived of pleasures, the use of which had made them an absolute want, the Monk felt this restraint severely. Naturally addicted to the gratification of the senses, in the full vigor of manhood, and the heat of blood, He had suffered his temperament to acquire such ascendency, that his lust was become madness. Of his fondness for Antonia, none but the grosser particles remained: He longed for the possession of her person; and even the gloom of the vault, the surrounding silence, and the resistance which He expected from her, seemed to give a fresh edge to his fierce and unbridled desires.

Ambrosio embodies the dangers of a male sensibility-- one that has been cultivated in isolation and which is unable to distinguish between sense (in this case, sexual pleasure) and refined sentiment (a sensibility which combines high feeling with a reasoned self-control), or even between vice (Matilda) and virtue (Antonia). In the course of allowing himself to indulge in these extreme emotions, he crosses the boundary which separates heightened faculties from illness and excess. Like Richardson's Lovelace before him and Shelley's monster after him, Ambrosio is an example of what can happen when sensibility goes unchecked by a proper education: it turns violent.

Related terms:

a dictionary of sensibility
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source bibliography
critical bibliography