September 29, 2010

Indication that Carmilla's a Vampire

There are many moments in Carmilla that hint at vampirism.  I went into this book not knowing that Carmilla is literally a vampire, which means if, later, I hadn't been look for the clues I probably would have missed them.  The reader is first struck by the impression of the vampire before Carmilla is even introduced in the story.

            "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.  The lady started back, with her eyes fixed on me, and then slipped down upon the floor, and, as I thought, hid herself under the bed." "Carmilla"

We later hear Carmilla's version of the story but the reader must wonder after hearing her rendition whether or not she was lying.  The first thing to consider is that when Carmilla appeared to the narrator, the narrator was only six, yet Carmilla appeared the same as when she is later introduced to the story.  Like a vampire she appears not to age.  Also, Carmilla seems to be very clever because she makes her rendition sound just as frightening as the narrators and she makes herself the same age as the narrator too.  Overall her story does not seem to be 100% true if you really try to decipher it.

This is not the only occasion that Carmilla causes apprehension for the narrator.  There are many times when the narrator is made uncomfortable by something Carmilla says or the intensity that she sometimes reveals.  For example:

            "From these foolish embraces, which were not of very frequent occurrence, I must allow, I used to wish to extricate myself; but my energies seemed to fail me.  Her murmured words sounded like a lullaby in my ear, and soothed my resistance into a trance, from which I only seemed to recover myself when she withdrew her arms."

The narrator describes the feeling of being in a trance and that is the reason she cannot resist Carmilla's strange advances.  We often hear in modern literature of vampires putting their victims into trances so that they are easier to handle, but the seductiveness in which Carmilla pursues her advances on the narrator seem to be much more than the hunter and its prey.

Some other indications of Carmilla being a vampire is that in the carriage accident Carmilla was completely unharmed.  She is also described by many people of being extremely beautiful, which is a trait often times associated with vampires.
            " 'I like her extremely,' answered Madame, 'she is, I almost think, the prettiest creature I ever saw…'
            'She is absolutely beautiful,' threw in Mademoiselle…"

And lastly Carmilla shows a great ability to charm which is another trait to be connected with vampires.
            "Young people like, and even love, on impulse.  I was flattered by the evident, though as yet undeserved, fondness she showed me."



September 22, 2010

Dead Books Vs. W.H.

Although I absolutely love the Twilight series (I have read them several times) I decided to compare W.H. to the Sookie Stackhouse series, or as I like to call them, the dead books.  I found many more similarities between the two books in both character and the popular topic in W.H., place.

The most evident similarities I found between the heroes of both books, Heathcliff and Bill, are that they both represent Byronic heroes.  Heathcliff seems to drain the emotions and essence of those who get to close to him, first with his benefactor, Mr. Earnshaw, and then with the love of his life, Catherine.  Similarly, Bill, whose love interest is Sookie Stackhouse, is literally sucking the life out of her (haha).  Yet throughout the story and series the reader is constantly rooting for the hero to successfully win the heroines love, even if they don't necessarily deserve.  That is because the books are written in a romantic way and the reader knows that the heroes love for the heroine is true.

It is also important to notice that by comparing Heathcliff to Vampire Bill it makes a few characteristics obvious.  One, that Heathcliff more clearly represents our class's descriptions of what a vampire is, which Colleen has quoted “The vampire of subjectivity sees the play of identity from the metalevel, sees the fragrant possibilities of multiple voice and subject position, the endless refraction of desire, with a visual apparatus that has become irreducibly and fatally different. Once one receives this Dark Gift, there is no way back to a simpler and less problematic time. The gaze of the vampire, once achieved, cannot be repudiated; it changes vision forever.” From --Allucuere Rosanne Stone, The War of Desire and Technology at the Close of the Mechanical Age.  Also, note that Vampire Bill seems much more human when brought into comparison with Heathcliff.  He is not just a hungry vampire looking for blood.  He is in love with a girl and only asks for that love to be returned.  With both characters it is easy to recognize the obvious, but if we look at them from a different angle and try to look below the surface we see a whole different side.

There is also a strong representation of place in both books, although how place is represented in each is different.  W.H. is used often by Bronte to represent a comparison to the characters, especially Heathcliff, which Andrew describes in his blog from last week.
            "Both the description of Wuthering Heights nor of Heathcliff leave the reader thinking positively and the following chapters only compound this case with the wickedness that seems to befall anyone on the property over time."  
It also, on many occasions, represents a highly foreboding image to many of the characters who also fall prey to Heathcliff's wickedness, such as Nelly and Mr. Linton.

Sookie's house is also mentioned many times in the series but its main representation seems to be home and love.  No matter what happens to Sookie, and there are plenty of bad experiences, she always wants to go home.  Her sentiments about her home are perpetual.  Not even her grandmother being brutally murdered in the kitchen could change Sookie's feelings about her home, showing a very strong association of love between place and character.

September 17, 2010

Heathcliff Is Human

While I have already read Wuthering Heights I did not read it with a group or class and therefore I was very excited to get the perspective of other readers.  I'm always reading and I thoroughly enjoy reading the classics (my favorite book being Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte) but I am not always the best at interpreting.

When I was reading the student blogs one caught my eye because he made a comparison between Heathcliff and Wuthering Heights that I probably would never have seen.  Andrew said "Wuthering Heights is a novel with many ambiguous interpretations, on of which can be the interesting juxtoposition of two popular subjects of the novel, Heathcliff and Wuthering Heights." He draws our attention to how Emily Bronte draws an obvious likeness between the foreboding image of both Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff right at the beginning of the story.

Andrew goes on to talk about how both Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff bring turmoil and grief to those around them.  I would like to embellish on this line of thought.  I agree that both place and character seem to bring sorrow to those around them but I don't think that this act is necessarily vindictive or intentional, on Heathcliff's part anyway.  It is possible that through Heathcliff's selfishness he causes others pain, but it is obvious that he also feels remorse for his actions.  At the beginning of the book Mr. Lockwood is forced to spend the night at Wuthering Heights due to a bad storm and there he is plagued by what he thinks is a dream of Catherine trying to enter the house through his bedroom window.  He tells Heathcliff about his dream and Heathcliff has a very emotional reaction to this, which Mr. Lockwood witnesses. 

            "He got on to the bed, and wrenched open the lattice, bursting, as he pulled at it, into an uncontrollable passion of tears.  'Come in! come in!' he sobbed.  'Cathy, do come.  Oh do- once more! Oh!  My heart's darling; hear me this time, Catherine, at last!'   (pg. 19)

I believe it is essential to recognize this display of passion from a character who until this point seemed quite devoid of any emotion at all.  At the very beginning of the book we are shown very vivid similarities between Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff, but this is the first point where we are shown a very human characteristic of Heathcliff.  The comparisons that Bronte makes at first draws even more awareness to these displays of affection that Heathcliff obviously has for Catherine.  I think that Bronte makes the comparisons of Heathcliff to Wuthering Heights not only to show the similarities but also to emphasize that Heathcliff is human and no matter how dispassionate he seems it would be impossible for him to remain indifferent all the time.

September 15, 2010

My Favorite Vampire Character

I will be honest and say that I love the vampire Lestat from the movie "Interview with a Vampire" and not the book.  It was one of my favorite movies as a child (I know it's weird) along with the movie "Legend" made in 1985, also starring Tom Cruise.  I guess I had a thing for Tom Cruise and I didn't even know it. Haha

But after reading Interview with a Vampire and then Lestat by Anne Rice I fell even more in love with the character.  I believe he falls in line with the term Byronic hero and some of my favorite characters are the ones we "love to hate" as Rachel would say.

Also here is a link for the trailer of the movie "Legend";  if you haven't seen it I would highly recommend it.

September 14, 2010

About Me

Hi Everybody,

My name is Jenny and I signed up for the class a little late but I still wanted to tell you guys a little about me.  First I want to start with why I decided to take this course.  I'm a business major and I work in sales... which means that I don't have a lot of outlets to be creative.  I absolutely love reading; I can't go one day without having something to read.  I needed an elective course this semester so I decided that I would take another English class.  The one downfall of being a business major is that I don't need to take any English classes and I also tested out of it which means I didn't need any English credits either.  I'm very excited about this class because all I read is novels.  I'm even more excited about this class because I've always had a fascination with vampires.  That vampires was the topic of this course was a pleasant surprise for me and I think it will be an interesting learning experience.  

I have already read two of the books that are required for this class.  I read Wuthering Heights, which I liked but I definitely did not look at it from the view that we will in the class so I am excited about that.  I think it will be really interesting.  I also read "Interview with a Vampire" by Anne Rice.  I've got to be honest I found this book very difficult to get through.  I think having classmates to discuss this book with will really help me to understand and dissect it. 

Overall I'm really looking forward to this class.  I'm excited about having an English class again.  It's also going to be nice to have a list of books to read because sometimes I find it hard to find new stuff to read, which means I usually end up re-reading my favorite books.

Which brings me to my favorite books.  I have a lot but if I had to choose it would definitely be Harry Potter and Jane Eyre.  I guess they seem pretty random together but I mainly like classics and fantasy; although I am open to anything.   I've lost count of how many times I've read Harry Potter, but the most recent was this summer while I was traveling to Germany.  I kept getting stopped at customs because I had three books stacked in my carry-on and apparently it looks like a dense container.  I was actually reading "Sense and Sensibility" when I signed up for the class which seems like a good thing because I am in the classic book mode.

Can't wait to get into these books with everyone!