The Vampire And Their Victims

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Carmilla is an example of a woman who loves her food far too much. Carmilla is consumed entirely by her food, even sleeping in a coffin of blood: “The limbs were perfectly flexible, the flesh elastic; and the leaden coffin floated with blood, in which to a depth of seven inches, the body lay immersed” (Le Fanu 102). There exists a unique relationship between the vampire and their victims. Food becomes defined in terms of victimhood, distinctly separated from humanity’s general consumption of meat. The need for human victims makes hunting synonymous with courtship, as intense emotional connections are established between the vampiress and her food. As seen in the intense relationship developed between Laura and Carmilla, the vampire is “prone to be fascinated with an engrossing vehemence, resembling the passion of love, by particular persons” (105). For Carmilla, cruelty and love are inseparable (33). The taking of the victims’ blood for sustenance is a highly sexualized exchange of fluids from one body to another. The act of consumption is transformed into an illicit carnal exchange between the hunter and the hunted. Immortality and eternal youth frequently appears in literature as a means of exploring fears of mortality, aging and decay. Carmilla is immortal in the sense that she cannot die from old age, though she can be killed through other means, as seen at the end of the novel. The undead are those that have died but maintain living traits, immune to aging while maintaining an animate body and mind. In Carmilla, there is a clear binary between the mortal and immortal. Laura’s illness is described as a strange melancholy, “a pretty advanced stage of the strangest illness under which mortal ever suffered,” furthering the dist... ... middle of paper ... ...rmities, society is reminded of its own abnormalities. In doing so, greater care is taken to prevent the consequences of monstrosity. Exploring monsters in literature and film, therefore, becomes necessary in reinforcing ideals of normalcy (160). The attempt to subvert this monstrosity the social anxieties of aging, beauty and the fear of death remains constant. The immortal and eternally beautiful monster defies human boundaries, limitations, and weaknesses of the physical body. In Le Fanu’s Carmilla, the vampire is constructed as the ideal feminine body, invulnerability and immune to decay. The monstrous vampire body, capable of destabilizing normalcy within society, is both deformed and eternally beautiful. The monster presents the ideal subject to compare and contrast with humankind, providing a safe space to confront and explore society’s insecurities and fears.

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