During this semester, we have explored many different forms of the Vampire. However, through many of the novels that we have read, there contains a sexual connotation from drinking the blood of another. The exchange of fluids, if you will. We see this in great amounts in Dracula and in Interview With The Vampire, so these will be the two novels that I will be focusing on. This also goes along with popular culture and why we, as a society, find vampires so alluring and sensual. For my final project, I'm going to write a critical paper exploring these things.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
In the Théâtre de Vampires, we as the reader (and also the audience) are placed in a voyeuristic position throughout the entire performance. We are shown an actual death, though the audience besides Louis and Claudia think it is acting. In general, we think death to be a private thing, ideally in a warm bed surrounded by everyone that we love. However, in this theater they make it a public event. We set our eyes on this act and know what is happening and that her fears and pleas for her life are real. This knowledge of ours makes the act more personal, and much more horrifying than for the humans seated in the audience.
Another way to look at this as not just death, but sexual defloweration. In my posts about Dracula I mentioned how the Count taking the blood of Lucy and Mina could be seen as a sexual encounter; an exchange of fluids. She is implied to be a virgin “The soil on her mean blouse and skirt was not stage paint, and nothing had touched her perfect face, which gazed into the light now, as beautiful and finely chiseled as the face of a marble Virgin, that hair her haloed veil.” (Page 217). Even the first bit on her neck was written in a very sensual way. “And now, turning her slowly to the side so that they could all see her serene face, he was lifting her, her back arching as her naked breasts touched his buttons, her pale arms enfolded his neck. She stiffened, cried out as he sank his teeth, and her face was still as the dark theater reverberated with shared passion. His white hand shone on her florid buttocks, her hair dusting it, stroking it. He lifted her off the boards as he drank, he throat gleaming against his white cheek” (Page 222).
It’s interesting how we see her progress through several stages of dying throughout this short performance. She starts with disbelief, stating “ ‘No,’ she protested in disbelief. ‘I have so many years, so many. . . .’ “ (Page 219). Then she starts to bargain for her life. Saying that she does not care that she will grow old and gray. “ ‘Let me live, please,’ she begged, her face turning away from him. ‘I don’t care . . . I don’t care!’ “ (Page 220). She then slides into an acceptance of her fate (even though the vampire dazed her).
Posted by Lindsay at 8:52 PM
Friday, November 12, 2010
My online artifact: http://www.queerhorror.com/Qvamp/articles/iwav.html
This blog post deals with the queer relationships between the vampires of Anne Rice’s chronicles. It also mentions how these vampires are different from the classic vampire. For this paper, however, I will be focusing on the relationship between Louis and Lestat.
This blog states that these books are often referred to as the turning point from a traditional view of vampires to a more modern view. Instead of reading about a hairy vampire in an old castle, we are reading about young looking vampires that are sensual and attractive to us. This book also gives us a different perspective of a vampire. Looking at Count Dracula, he was something to be feared and destroyed. However, the vampires in this novel almost draw out our sympathy towards them. For example when Louis is talking about his brother’s death while he was still human he says “I could not forgive myself. I felt responsible for his death.” (Page 9). Even this little statement has us feeling pity for Louis and his past mistakes. The fact that it is written in such a way that we get to hear the first-hand account of what happened to Louis and how his life thus far has been helps us to feel this way about the vampire. We are almost taking this journey with him, and feeling what he feels. It’s a much more intimate view of the vampire, instead of it being off in some other country away from us, it is actually here. Vampires could actually be someone you interact with, without knowing so. Also different about Louis is the fact that he does not take death lightly. “I never laugh at death, no matter how often and regularly I am the cause of it.” (Page 16). This isn’t just a break from traditional vampires, like Dracula, but also a break from other vampires in this novel. Lestat actually takes death very lightly, laughing about it. “Lestat was laughing, telling me callously that I would feel so different once I was a vampire that I would laugh, too.” (Page 16). I think it’s interesting that even though in most of the vampire novels that we’ve read death is taken lightly by the ones that are killing, Louis is a vast departure from this way of taking death lightly. I think it stems from the fact that Louis felt so responsible for his brother’s death, and the fact that his depression about it defined the rest of his human life.
As in other novels, the act of drinking blood is a very sensual act. This blog states “While they are capable of sexual acts, it is no longer important to them.” We’ve seen this in Lucy’s transformation in Dracula, and we see it in Louis’ transformation in Interview With The Vampire. When Louis is telling of Lestat drinking his blood, he says “I remember that the movement of his lips raised the hair all over my body, sent a shock of sensation through my body that was not unlike the pleasure of passion . . .” (Page 19). This can be seen as Lestat really taking over Louis, and it obviously has a sexual connotation attached to it. It can be easily seen as the vampires having sexual intercourse, just as Dracula’s visits to Lucy to drain her blood can be seen as sexual intercourse as well.
The way that Louis also drinks Lestat’s blood also is seen to be sexual. “I drank, sucking the blood out of the holes, experiencing for the first time since infancy the special pleasure of sucking nourishment, the body focused with the mind upon one vital source.” (Page 20). Louis also says “…Lestat pulled his wrist free suddenly, and I opened my eyes and checked myself in a moment of reaching for his wrist, grabbing it, and forcing it back into my mouth at all costs” (Page 20). This passage shows the draw of Lestat’s blood to Louis. Even though he does stop himself from drinking more of Lestat’s blood, its draw is still evident in the fact that he had to stop himself from drinking more in the first place.
Another moment showing the queer relationship between Louis and Lestat is when they have to sleep in the same coffin. “‘Now I’m getting into the coffin,’ he finally said to me in his most disdainful tone, ‘and you will get in on top of me if you know what’s good for you.’ And I did. I lay face down on him, utterly confused by my absence of dread and filled with a distaste for being so close to him, handsome and intriguing as though he was. And he shut the lid.” (Page 25). It’s interesting that Louis is disgusted to be so close to Lestat, especially after how Louis felt while drinking Lestat’s blood. Though, in this scene of the book, there is no blood drinking or other sexual connotations. I think this shows that although Louis is sexually attracted to Lestat (shown in the way that he did not want to stop sucking his blood), he is not interested in him romantically past that point. This can be shown when Louis says “The thing that became apparent to me, even while Lestat and I were loading the coffin into a hearse and stealing another coffin from a mortuary, was that I did not like Lestat at all. I was far from being his equal yet, but I was indefinitely closer to him than I had been before the death of my body. […] But before I died, Lestat was absolutely the most overwhelming experience I’d ever had.” (page 25). When reading this quote, it seems that Louis was in love with Lestat (at least, was mesmerized by him) when he was human. However, when he turned into a vampire Lestat lost his appeal. This would fit, because when Louis was drinking Lestat’s blood and feeling sexually towards him, he was still human.
Rice, Anne. Interview With The Vampire. New York: Ballantine Books, n.d. Print.
Rice, Anne. Interview With The Vampire. New York: Ballantine Books, n.d. Print.
Posted by Lindsay at 8:22 PM
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
In the beginning of this novel, women were viewed only as objects. They were used to appeal to Robert’s lust, and to make him leave his house. They did this by striking lewd poses when they knew he was looking out at them. This worked to awaken his lust, but he did not go out to them. This can be traced back to the racial themes of the book, in the fact that he did not want his blood to come into contact with the vampire’s blood because he felt that he would become contaminated by them. The fact that he viewed the women as objects, and not people anymore made it easier for him to kill them, because he did not view them to be the same as he was. This also can be traced to the racial themes of this book.
Later in the novel, he performs experiments on the vampires. However, all the vampires that he experiments on happen to be women. They seem to be more like lab mice than anything. Only good if they serve his purpose, otherwise he has no problems in killing them. They’re just experiments, not people, or even living things to him. He rationalizes killing them by telling himself that they would have killed him, given the chance.
Robert, however, does have a strong desire for a companion. This is where Ruth comes in. He is drawn to her because he believes her to be another human like him, and chases her down. The fact that he goes through such lengths to get to her shows us how desperate he is for someone, anyone else to talk to and to be with. Though the idea of being with her frightens her and he tells himself it would be easier if she was one of them. “But what if she were free of bacillus? In a way, that was a more nerve-racking possibility. The other way he would merely go on as before, breaking neither schedule now standards. But if she stayed, if they had to establish a relationship, perhaps become husband and wife, have children . . . Yes, that was more terrifying.” (Page 139)
Later he thinks, “Shall I kill her now? Shall I not even investigate, but kill her and burn her?” (Page 140). It’s interesting to be that he seems that he would rather keep viewing the women as he had been, as objects. They are easy to dispose of because they don’t have any meaning to him. He is scared of having responsibility again, and by making Ruth into one of them in his mind (and thus making her into and object that is okay to kill), he tries to rid himself of any responsibility that he might have if it turns out that she is not infected.
Posted by Lindsay at 8:51 PM