Literature Study GuidesThe Name Of The RoseFifth Day Nones Compline Summary

The Name of the Rose | Study Guide

Umberto Eco

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The Name of the Rose | Fifth Day, Nones–Compline | Summary

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Summary

Fifth Day, Nones

Bernard Gui presides over the interrogation of Remigio on two charges: heresy and multiple murder. The assembled monks observe the proceedings. William of Baskerville notes that the cellarer looks like "a frightened animal." Gui gazes calmly at the cellarer as if to convey, "You are in my power."

The inquisitor's questioning reveals that he thinks Remigio's guilt on both counts is beyond doubt. Gui twists everything Remigio says to make it mean its opposite. When the cellarer states, "My soul is innocent and I do not know what you mean when you speak of heretical depravity," Gui immediately attacks saying, "When one of them [heretics] is arrested, he faces judgment as if his conscience were at peace." Remigio's every protestation of innocence and every defense against heresy is construed by Gui as "the typical reply of the impenitent heretic ... trying to trap the inquisitor," when it is Gui who is setting a deadly trap for Remigio.

Remigio's fate is sealed when Salvatore is brought in. Clearly, Salvatore has been tortured. He tells the assembly what he'd told Gui under torture the night before: that the cellarer had been an eager follower of the heretic Dolcino and had carried letters for him. When he arrived at the abbey, Remigio gave Dolcino's letters to Malachi, who agreed to hide them in a remote corner of the library. Malachi is brought into court and confirms this, adding that he has already given the letters to Gui. Gui accuses Remigio of broadcasting heretical texts. Remigio says to Malachi, "You must know I didn't kill Severinus ... because you were there before me!" Malachi denies this. Gui believes him and says he may go. The cellarer is trapped. He says he thought Malachi had given the letters to Severinus to hide and so had gone to the infirmary to find them. Gui pounces because this statement condemns Remigio for heresy (the letters) and murder (he killed Severinus so he could look for the letters). Adso notes, "Bernard was very sly in mixing the murders with heresy."

After incessant, often illogical, badgering by Gui, Remigio admits he'd gotten the letters from Dolcino, and this admission seals his fate as a heretic. Remigio swears an oath that he had abandoned Dolcino and his heretical teachings. Gui demands a full confession of heresy and murder from Remigio. If the cellarer fails to give a full confession, he will be tortured. Remigio says he's a coward who cannot endure torture and so will "say whatever [Gui] wants." He confesses in detail to the most horrendous crimes of murder and heresy. He repeats prayers he's said to devils. The assembled monks are horrified. Remigio has convulsions and collapses.

William and Adso are thoroughly disgusted by the trial. William realizes that now Ubertino is in grave danger and must leave the abbey.

Fifth Day, Vespers

William, Adso, Michael of Cesena, and Ubertino confer in the abbey cloister. William tells Michael not to travel to meet the pope. But Michael insists on going because he "wants the Franciscan order to be accepted by the Pope with its ideal of poverty." Michael "will compromise on everything except the principle of poverty," even if it means risking his life. Adso later recalls that Michael did go to see the pope who labeled him "a madman, a reckless ... fomenter of heresy." After several months, and fearing for his life, Michael fled Avignon and denounced the pope. But by this time his influence was waning and the pope named another friar to lead the Minorites. William states that now Ubertino, too, is not safe at the abbey because "the words Bernard had addressed to him, the hatred the Pope now felt toward him" was a certain threat to his life. Ubertino follows William's advice and asks the abbot to have a horse and provisions ready for his departure that night. The abbot agrees, and Ubertino flees in the fog and darkness.

Once these affairs are settled, William thinks again of the crimes he must solve. When Adso asks how William can think of the murders after all he's just witnessed, William says "I ... find the most joyful delight in unraveling a nice, complicated knot." After dinner, William and Adso meet Benno, and William asks him where the secret book is. Benno replies that he "cannot tell by order of the abbot." Then Benno tells the dumbfounded pair that he has been appointed assistant librarian in Berengar's place. Finally, Benno admits he's given the book to Malachi.

William explains to Adso that "Benno joined the other side" and has become part of those who want to prevent books from being read. William describes Benno as having a "lust for knowledge ... for its own sake." Benno is guilty of "intellectual pride" because he hoards books for himself, not to use their wisdom to help or enlighten others. Aymaro appears out of the darkness, saying with a sneer, "If justice existed, the Devil would come and take [Malachi] this very night" for all the evil he'd done that day.

Fifth Day, Compline

The abbot is so shaken by Gui's earlier attack that he cannot speak to the monks assembled to pray for Severinus's soul. Instead, Abo asks Jorge to speak to them.

Jorge's sermon is an eloquent and fanatical rant calling fire and brimstone down on the monks who are guilty of "the sin of pride" because they seek to know more than is written in the Bible. Jorge calls the monks "madmen and presumptuous fools" whose pride has brought "ruination ... permitted by God for the humbling of our pride." The pride Jorge rages against is the desire to learn new things. For Jorge, the abbey's mission is to preserve knowledge rather than search for it. The Bible has all the knowledge a humble monk needs. Jorge admits that the library contains books "hostile to the truth" of the Bible and that any monk who seeks to learn from these books "is the Antichrist."

Jorge rails against modern life and people who are too enamored of innovation and learning. He accuses everyone. He describes the horrors that will befall the world once the Antichrist is called up by those who have intellectual pride, as well as those who are "perverse, disdainful, greedy, ... [and] enemies of the Gospel." Jorge invokes the Apocalypse and all its terrors of "abomination and desolation" as the Antichrist brings ruin and darkness to the world. Finally, Christ will descend from heaven and "set free the blessed who have believed." Those who seek truth apart from the Bible "will descend into the eternal torment."

The monks leave, shocked into silence by Jorge's tirade and threats of damnation. But when William and Adso depart, they discuss the fate of Remigio, Salvatore, and the village girl. William explains the awful fate of the girl and Remigio but says that Gui may let Salvatore go free because he is "of no interest." Adso is distraught at the fate of the village girl, and he rages against the Inquisition's victimization of the poor.

Analysis

As an inquisitor, Bernard Gui represents the power of the Church in prosecuting heresy. His interrogation of Remigio displays all the hallmarks of power, corruption, and hypocrisy. He is also a purveyor of confusion in his suppression of truth and his indifference to evidence, or signs. It's clear that Gui is uninterested in finding the truth. His only goal is upholding the Church's control of the medieval world order by proclaiming Remigio guilty. To this end, Gui twists everything Remigio says to make it seem false or heretical.

From the perspective of the inquisitor, all avowals of innocence are signs of guilt. There is no escape from the foregone conclusion that will send the accused to the stake. Gui seems to represent the polar opposite of William, a man who uses reason and logic to interpret signs that will, hopefully, lead to truth. William understands this when he explains to Adso, "Bernard is interested, not in discovering the guilty, but in burning the accused." Gui is also corrupt, not only in his bias and prejudgment of Remigio's guilt, but also in his presentation of Malachi as unquestionably truthful. He is fawningly gracious in accepting Malachi's lies. Gui's corruption bleeds into hypocrisy. He uses a "gaze in which hypocritical indulgence" is intended to reassure the accused. Only when the accused is softened does Gui pounce on him with "merciless severity." If Gui were truly seeking to rid the Church of heresy, he would free those he believed were not heretics. But his determination to condemn even those who aren't heretics reveals his hypocrisy and his indifference to destroying real heresy.

Jorge's speech demolishes William's convictions about knowledge while reinforcing his insight into the library's purpose. For Jorge, the only knowledge people need is contained in the Bible. Seeking knowledge beyond that in the Bible is a sin deserving of "the eternal torment" of hell. Jorge condemns books with new ideas because they blaspheme against the word of God. Thus, Jorge echoes William's observation when he says the abbey library exists only to preserve books. Reading books, or trying "to break the seals of the books that are not his to see" to gain knowledge, is for Jorge a "sin of pride" that the Lord will punish. William recognizes in Jorge's warning a sign that "the old man knows more than he is saying." It's probable that Jorge's reference to "breaking the seal" of forbidden books refers to the secret book in the hidden room of the labyrinth. So, Jorge may have revealed himself as part of the conspiracy to keep the book hidden and to destroy those who would read and learn from it.

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