Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Carmilla

There are many references to sexuality in this novel that are delicate for the time it was written. Sheridan Le Fanu writes a story about a vampire that has sexual desires for her same sex, yet preys on her in the dark of the night. In my opinion it is clear that this book explores the subject of lesbian attraction in the form of Carmilla. From the beginning of the Camilla’s visit, Laura experiences a weird attraction to her new friend. But along with this attraction she also senses, though not sure why, that there is something about her that repulses her. In this quote you can tell that Laura feels uncomfortable with Carmilla’s sudden sexual advances but at the same time she is unsure if she dislikes them completely.

“Sometimes after an hour of apathy, my strange and beautiful companion would take my hand and hold it with a fond pressure, renewed again and again; blushing softly, gazing in my face with languid and burning eyes, and breathing so fast; that her dress rose and fell with the tumultuous respiration. It was like the ardour of a lover; it embarrassed me; it was hateful and yet overpowering; and with gloating eyes she drew me to her, and her hot lips travelled along my cheek in kisses; and she would whisper, almost in sobs, 'You are mine, you shall be mine, you and I are one for ever.' Then she has thrown herself back in her chair, with her small hands over her eyes, leaving me trembling.”

Laura is being thrown into a confusing state when Carmilla falls into these abrupt sexual advances. On one hand she knows from society that a man and women should love each other, but at the same time she cannot ignore her feelings for her friend. This is the identity queering that is happening throughout the story. I think this illustrates what most teenagers go through when they are growing up, not necessarily sexual identity confusion, but just being unsure in general of whom they are.

The fact that Laura had a dream when she was very young of Carmilla coming to her and biting her is very intriguing. I think it is an unusual and cool way to have a dream in early childhood represent things to come in the future. Not only the fact that Carmilla herself will come in the flesh, but also her intentions for Laura with the feeding. Laura believes the dream so real, she claims that she was bitten, but there were no marks to be found on her body. An interesting fact to think about is that because ‘dream’ Carmilla came in her older form, it could be a hint early on from Le Fanu about Carmilla never aging, and possibly her dark historical origins.

“when to my surprise, I saw a solemn, but very pretty face looking at me from the side of the bed. It was that of a young lady who was kneeling, with her hands under the coverlet. I looked at her with a kind of pleased wonder, and ceased whimpering. She caressed me with her hands, and lay down beside me on the bed, and drew me towards her, smiling; I felt immediately delightfully soothed, and fell asleep again. I was wakened by a sensation as if two needles ran into my breast very deep at the same moment, and I cried loudly.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Through Heathcliff

Chapter 27 - Through the eyes of Heathcliff
I felt as though I could hear Linton's weeping for miles. I stormed down to see what the ruckus was only to find Linton, Catherine, and Nelly conversing. I interjected, "It is something to see you so near my house, Nelly! How are you at the Grange? Let us hear! The rumor goes that Edgar Linton is on his deathbed: perhaps they exaggerate his illness? Nelly responded with an answer that made me excited. She confirmed that Edgar was indeed on his deathbed and didn't have very long to live. Only one thing came to my mind after hearing this. Linton and Catherine must marry so that I can inherit the Thrushcross Grange and finally get my revenge on that bastard Edgar Linton. I knew Linton needed medical help but I also knew he would be all right for a few more days, at least until the deed was done. I tried to get Linton to stand be he claimed he was too weak. I wouldn't stand for that so I helped him up. Nelly was most unhelpful when I requested she take him in and tend to him. I tried to bring him in myself but he would not let go of his cousin. She finally got him to go inside at last. I nearly had to push Nelly in the house but eventually I got all three parties in my home and locked the door. I needed to make these two get married and I was running out of time, this seemed to be the only way I could make it happen. Catherine was the first to become upset. She yelled at me saying, " give me that key: I will have it! I wouldn't eat or drink here, if I were starving." I was taken aback by her sudden boldness, and how much it reminded me of her mother. She struggled for a bit, and finally managed to bite me, hard. This angered me enough to provide violence to her being. Nelly at this point protested but I silenced her as well.
After a while the two women realized they were not getting out of my home until the deed was done. I returned to them after a short while only to find Linton snivelling again. I told the women that once in their rooms I would not disturb them and that they had nothing to fear. I approached Catherine later that night and she told me she would marry Linton because she loved him, but she needed to go home and tend to her father who was dying. This I took great pleasure in; the sight of Edger dying with no knowledge of his daughter's location was a good sight indeed. After some strong words Cathy started to try and flatter me. I rejected with disgust. I sent them to their rooms around nine o'clock and did not speak with either until morning. Around seven I went and retrieved miss Catherine and sent Nelly up a large breakfast.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Vampyre

After reading The Vampyre I was impressed with how interesting of a read it was. Short stories usually don't appeal to me but it was intriguing to the very end.  I enjoy the old school vampire appearance and behavior of Lord Ruthven.  He seems much more real and above all, Hollywood hasn't touched him.  Lord Ruthven brings back a more mysterious type of vampire, unlike the vampires of "Team Edward" and other characters in today’s popular media.  Lord Ruthven’s constant companion Aubrey has to fill in the blanks himself as he studies and learns Lord Ruthven's habits and life style.
"He watched him; and the very impossibility of forming an idea of the character of a man entirely absorbed in himself, who gave few other signs of his observation of external objects, than the tacit assent to their existence, implied by the avoidance of their contact: allowing his imagination to picture everything that flattered its propensity to extravagant ideas, he soon formed this object into the hero of a romance, and determined to observe the offspring of his fancy, rather than the person before him.". (The Vampyre, Polidori)

Once again the writing here is superb.  This kind of writing takes me a little longer to get through, but ultimately it makes me appreciate the great quality of the short story. One of the lines that I love from this story just serves to show that no one really knows what is going on in Lord Ruthven's head, "his eye spoke less than his lip". (The Vampyre, Polidori) 

In some roles of today’s vampires, they are portrayed as blood hungry monsters that think of nothing but feeding their inner hunger.  One example of this is in the Blade movies where the normal vampires only care about killing humans and harvesting their blood.  Lord Ruthven is a more delicate creature.  He is entirely more selective of his prey and does not just lust for random blood. After all Ruthven traveled everywhere with Aubrey and even took care of him when he was ill, never thinking of feeding on him. His intelligent, more thought out plans of feeding really bring out a more sophisticated vampire than some in today’s media.  I feel like movies that only focus on killing for satisfaction, (blade, Van Helsing-hollywood movie) are starting to dumb down the image of the vampire. Vampires are starting to become less intelligent and more violent in origin, which does not serve their roots very well.
Overall I really enjoyed The Vampyre short story.  It shows a deep, interesting vampire that has many levels of personality in which to explore.  Lord Ruthven can be compassionate and ruthless at the same time; I suspect this is the allure that draws people to him.  The overall mystery that enshrouds him is intriguing, complex, and shows how original vampires were more than blood lusting, brain-dead monsters.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kyle Duquaine intro

I am a Biochemistry student and I plan on becoming a Dentist at some point in time, however my mind likes to jump around about that.  I love most all sports but I don't like watching them nearly as much as playing them.  Movies and books really make me think and they play a large role in my personality and the way I think about life. I added this course basically because I was sick of doing nothing but science, literature is about as far away from equations and math as possible so I decided to give it a shot and it seems to be pretty interesting so far.  In 6th grade I read Sphere by Michael Crichton and I loved it.  The mystery of not really knowing whats going on in a movie or book intrigues me.  I have never blogged or done any sort of online class communication besides email but am excited to give it a try.

Wuthering Heights part 1

Since I am a Biochemistry major I rarely read novels such as this one.  The first ten pages or so really took me a while to get through and understand.  Once past the introduction however it began to flow more easily and I could actually enjoy what I was reading.  The first thing I liked about this book ( I also enjoy when movies do this ) was the how they tell the story through different ways.  Such as through Lockwood's eyes, diary entries, and other characters retelling stories they have seen.  The incredible description the characters go into really makes me think about all the small things in everyday life that we all just look over and never think about.

"Above the chimney were sundry villanous old guns, and a couple of horse-pistols: and, by way of ornament, three gaudily painted canisters disposed along its edge.  The floor was smooth, white stone; the chairs, high-backed, primitive structures, painted green: one or two heavy black ones lurking in the shade.  In an arch under the dresser, reposed a huge, liver colored bitch pointer, surrounded by a swarm of squealing puppies; and other dogs haunted other recesses." (p. 3, Wuthering Heights)

After reading this and other sometimes long winded descriptions, I can clearly picture myself in the room and or situation Lockwood is experiencing.  Although it was tough to get through at first I feel like it got easier and easier as I went on.

One thing I kept thinking as I was reading was how incredibly rude Mr. Heathcliff, family, and workers were to Mr. Lockwood without even knowing him.  Leaving a stranger in a room with all of your mean tempered dogs and then not caring that they are attacking him is not exactly what I call being a gracious host.

With the whole Heathcliff and Hindley struggle it is obvious that jealously is one of the main feelings felt in this book.  Hindley is constantly trying to thwart Heathcliff and Catherine's relationship and Heathcliff's life in general.  It is sad to say but this idea of jealously is just as strong if not stronger today than ever.  I think its sad that some people are so insecure about their friends and relationships that they resort to being jealous when many times it is unwarranted.  Not only in relationships but in other people's successes there is jealousy.  Jealousy is an evil emotion that affects us all and Emily Bronte shows us that in the character of Hindley.
"Heathcliff received no flogging, but he was told that the first word he spoke to miss Catherine would ensure a dismissal"

Chapter 9 was a very touching chapter for me to read. Emily Bronte does a fabulous job describing Catherine's true love towards Heathcliff.  She loved him so much that instead of being selfish and marrying him just to make herself happy, she wants to marry into the wealthy Lintons so that she can use the Linton's wealth to help her true love escape from the brutality that Hindley brings on Heathcliff.  Obviously this sucks for Linton but the point I am trying to make is that she would do just about anything for Heathcliff so he is safe from a wretched life.

So far, despite my hesitations about reading this novel in comparison to what I am used to, I actually enjoy this book.  The writing is excellent and I am interested to see where the story turns.