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.

2 comments:

  1. I also noticed that Carmilla seems to be interested in the same sex. On more than one occasion, she makes sexual advances towards Laura. Furthermore, I found it interesting that Laura does not find comfort living with her father until Carmilla arrives. She takes solace in female companionship. I agree with your statement that Laura understands that marriage is between a man and a woman, but I am not sure that she accepts this. She refers to Carmilla constantly as beautiful and companion, implying that there is a sense of sexual attraction between the two.

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  2. Before I started reading Carmilla I looked it up on Wikipedia. When I saw that the story was about lesbian vampires I thought “wow”. I think I thought this because of the time in which this novel was written. I did not thing back then that this was appropriate but maybe that’s why he wrote about it. But I definitely agree with you when you say, “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.” I noticed all of the sexual advances like when Carmilla kissed Laura. Laura discusses many places in the novel how she is confused about why she is so attracted to Carmilla. Towards the end of the first part I think that Laura starts to give in to the temptation and start accepting the idea that she has feelings for another female.

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