Sexual Innuendo and Homoeroticism
Throughout this semester, many of the vampire novels that we have analyzed have had a certain thing in common. Simply, the vampire needed to drink the blood of a living being to survive. This can be seen as just that, something needed to live; a necessity. However, if you were to look deeper into it, it can be seen as a sexual act. The exchange of fluids goes both ways. The blood of the living person flows in to the vampire, making him stronger and able to live. Also, the vampire’s fluid flowing back into the living being’s body; and if left, making that being into a vampire. The fact that this exchange of fluids can also be seen as reproduction (making more of them) it is easy to see how sucking blood, or any fluid transfers in general can be sexual.
One book that we read where the sexual nature of blood sucking was apparent was Dracula by Bram Stoker. One character that is worth looking at in this book is Lucy. Lucy starts off as an innocent girl, though somewhat naïve. She’s outgoing, and fits into the traditional role of Victorian women. She doesn’t work and is seemingly obsessed with finding a man to marry (and she is rather successful at this, having three proposals in one day). This changes, however, later in the book.
Mina notices that Lucy has left her bed in the middle of the night, and becomes fearful of where she could be. Mina finally spots Lucy in the churchyard, and also mentions that there seemed to be something dark standing behind her.
“The coming of the cloud was too quick for me to see much, for shadow shut down on the light almost immediately; but it seemed to me as though something dark stood behind the seat where the white figure shone, and bent over it. What it was, whether man or beast, I could not tell.” (Page 88)
This is actually the first encounter that Lucy and Mina have with Dracula in the book. It’s important to note that Mina notices this dark figure (that we perceive to be Dracula) because later she notices puncture wounds on Lucy’s neck. These puncture wounds mark the first time that Dracula has actually draw blood from Lucy. If we bring in the idea of the exchange of fluids being sexual, it can be seen as the first time that Lucy and Dracula have engaged in sexual acts together.
“I was sorry to notice that my clumsiness with the safety-pin hurt her. Indeed, it might have been serious, for the skin of her throat was pierced. I must have pinched up a piece of loose skin and have transfixed it, for there are two little red points like pinpricks, and on the band of her nightdress was a drop of blood. When I apologized and was concerned about it, she laughed and petted me, and said she did not even feel it. Fortunately it cannot leave a scar, as it is so tiny.” (Page 89)
Dracula keeps visiting Lucy, and can be shown by the fact that the previously mentioned wounds on her neck will not heal.
“I trust her feeling ill may not be from that unlucky prick of the safety pin. I looked at her throat just now as she lay asleep, and the tiny wounds seem not to have healed. They are still open, and, if anything, larger than before, and the edges are faintly white. They are like little white dots with red centers. Unless they heal within a day or two, I shall insist on the doctor seeing about them.” (Page 92)
Lucy’s character begins to disintegrate, alluding to the fact that she no longer carries the role of a proper Victorian woman anymore. This is shown through her sickness, and is because of the fact that she is continuously fed on by Dracula. In other words, continuously having sexual relations with Dracula. A proper Victorian woman is seen to be virginal, and Dracula takes this title away from her.
Another instance of fluid exchange being seen as sexual is the blood transfusions that Lucy receives to try to say her life. Through the process of these transfusions, she obtains blood from three different men. Because of the sexual air that we have been discussing, this can be seen as her engaging in sexual acts with all these of these men. This certainly does not help her character or her health and the transfusions fail to save her life.
It’s interesting to note that Dracula succeeds in making Lucy a vampire. This goes along with the idea of fluid exchange being sexual because it results in reproduction. It’s also interesting because of the fact that through the last while of her life, she has been symbolically having sexual relations with many men, and in death she actually turns into the vixen that her character had become in life.
“There lay Lucy, seemingly just as we had seen her the night before her funeral. She was, if possible, more radiantly beautiful than ever; and I could not believe she was dead. The lips were red, nay redder than before; and on the cheeks was a delicate bloom.
‘Is this a juggle?’ I said to him.
‘Are you convinced now?’ said the Professor in response, as he spoke he put over his hand, and in a way that made me shudder, pulled back the dead lips and showed the white teeth.
‘See,’ he went one, ‘see, they are sharper than before. With this and this’ – and he touched one of the canine teeth and that below it – ‘the little children can be bitten.” (Page 178)
Looking at blood drinking as a sexual act also transforms the actions in another book we read, Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. Even without looking at blood drinking in this light, things are still sensual between Louis and Lestat. However, after looking at it sexual, we see a homosexual relationship (however unstable) form between them.
It begins when Lestat turns Louis into a vampire. This is another example of reproduction and thus a sexual act. Their first encounter with each other is extremely sensual, especially when coupled with Louis falling in love with all of the details of the world. In this moment, he is completely in love with what he is and Lestat.
‘“I think that I knew what he meant to do even before he did it, and I was waiting in my helplessness as if I’d been waiting for years. He pressed his bleeding wrist to my mouth, said firmly, a little impatiently, ‘Louis, drink.’ And I did. ‘Steady Louis,’ and ‘Hurry,’ he whispered to me a number of times. 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. Then something happened.” The vampire sat back, a slight frown on his face.
“How pathetic it is to describe these things which can’t truly be described,” he said, his voice low almost to a whisper. The boy sat as if frozen.
“I saw nothing but that light then as I drew blood. And then this next thing, this next thing was . . . sound. A dull roar at first and then a pounding like the pounding of a drum, growing louder and louder, as if some enormous creature were coming up on one slowly through a dark and alien forest, pounding as he came, a huge drum. And then there came the pounding of another drum, as if another giant were coming yards behind him, and each giant, intent on his own drunk, gave not notice to the rhythm of the other. The sound grew louder and louder until it seemed to fill not just my hearing but all my senses, to be throbbing in my lips and fingers, in the flesh of my temples, in my veins. Above all, in my veins, drum and then the other drum; and then Lestat pulled his wrist free suddenly, and I opened my eyes and checked myself in a moment of reaching for his wrist, grabbing it, forcing it back to my mouth at all costs; I checked myself because I realized that the drum had been my heart, and the second d drum had been his.”‘ (Page 20)
This quote clearly shows how intense the act of blood drinking can be. It completely consumed Louis, to the point where the rest of the world around him faded and he was focused on that one thing. Symbolically this act is effectively like taking Louis’ virginity. His first time participating in such in act would understandably consume and overwhelm him. Also, it made him slightly addicted to it and left him wanting more, so to speak, as evidenced when he had to consciously stop himself from grabbing Lestat’s wrist back.
It’s interesting to note that although Louis seems very in love with Lestat at this point, he does not actually love him. He seems more in love with the experience; much like someone might enjoy sex with someone they are not in love with. The following quote shows how Louis really feels about Lestat.
“’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 distaste for being so close to him, handsome and intriguing though he was. And he shut the lid. […] The first thing that became apparent to me, even while Lestat and I were leading 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 infinitely closer to him that I had been before the death of my body. I can’t really make this clear to you for the obvious reason that you are now as I was before my body died. You cannot understand. But before I died, Lestat was absolutely the most overwhelming experience I’d ever had.’ (Page 25)
His second time drinking blood was just as entrancing as the first.
”Lestat and the swamp and the noise of the distant camp mean nothing. Lestat might have been an insect, buzzing, lighting, then vanishing in significance. The sucking mesmerized me; the warm struggling of the man was soothing to the tension of my hands; and there came the beating of the drum again, which was the drumbeat of his heart – only this time it beat in perfect rhythm with the drumbeat of my own heart, the two resounding in every fiber of my being, until the beat began to grow slower and slower, so that each was a soft rumble that threatened to go on without end. I was drowsing, falling into weightlessness; and then Lestat pulled me back.” (Page 30)
It seems that drinking blood is addicting, as evidenced between the previous quotes from Interview with the Vampire. Louis almost can’t pull himself out of the trance that the act puts him in, almost harming himself the second time (drinking from a dead body). This can be related to how someone might be addicted to sex, and crave it like the vampires are craving blood. However, even though Louis craves blood, he does not kill for fun, or even make a game out of killing his victims. He kills out of necessity, and to keep himself alive. Much unlike Lestat who will make a game out of it, and ‘play with his food’ so to speak.
If we continue to look at blood drinking and the exchange of fluids as a sexual act, we have to agree that there is homosexual intercourse within the novel Interview with the Vampire. However, cloaking the sex within a different act (drinking blood) that can be seen as having reasons of its own besides sexual reason, people who don’t want to see sexual acts between two characters of the same sex won’t, they will just see the vampires drinking blood to stay alive or to make more vampires. This fact helps with the book’s acceptance, because it makes it more socially acceptable to a wider range of people. It can be seen as ‘just another vampire book’ when really it is actually very risqué if you understand the connections between the fluid exchange and sex.
Stoker, Bram, Nina Auerbach, and David J. Skal. Dracula. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997. Print.
Rice, Anne. Interview with the Vampire. New York, NY: Ballantine, 1997. Print.