The idea of what vampires are was always a mystery to me. The way they were portrayed in movies and novels was that they were these vicious blood sucking murderers that lived in secret away from the rest of the world and one thing I’ve always noticed was that vampires were always men it was very rare to come across a female vampire. The use of a female vampire in LeFanu’s Carmilla and his way of using sexuality and eroticism in a Victorian novel through women is what makes the novel appealing.
Usually in a Victorian era novel sexuality and eroctism is discrete and if it is openly used, its between men and women. LeFanu takes it a step further by creating a sexual relationship between two women. Which is totally unexpected especially for the time the novel was written. As if this relationship between Carmilla and Laura wasn’t enough, LeFanu takes it another step further when it’s revealed that Carmilla is a vampire. Everything about Carmilla is completely out of the ordinary for the time it is written. The power and manipulation she has over Laura is incredible. Carmilla has a power that draws people to her. She is evil but is able to disguise herself so well that even when it’s sensed that something isn’t right about her, still attracts Laura to her. Which reminds me of the story of Adam and Eve, they knew what was forbidden to them but they let the evils of the devil overpower them. Which is exactly what Carmilla is to Laura, the devil. She can’t help but take part in the seduction, she is blinded by the evils of Carmilla and the more she tries to pull away the deeper she got sucked in. Laura knew the relationship she shared with Carmillia wasn’t natural and frowned upon but she couldn’t help herself. As the saying goes, “how could something so wrong, feel so right.”
“Now the truth is, I felt rather unaccountably towards the beautiful stranger. I did feel, as she said, “drawn towards her”, but there was also something of repulsion. In this ambigious feeling, however, the sense of attraction immensely prevailed. She interested and won me; she was so beautiful and so describably engaging.”
LeFanu paved the way for many vampire novels and now they’re seen everywhere from the big screen to TV shows. One show in particular that I feel has some influence from Carmilla is True Blood. It is full of seduction, forbidden desires, sexuality, eroticism and unexplainable deaths. There’s also the feeling of not being able to resist something that is known to be wrong but feels so right. The characters of Bill and Sookie and their looked down upon open relationship is one representation of this. But the relationship between Tara and Pam is more fitting when it comes to comparison with Carmilla. Tara, a newly created vampire wants no part of her new lifestyle but through the manipulation and power of her maker Pam, she has no choice but to partake. Pam is Tara’s maker because she transformed Tara from a human into a vampire in turn Tara becomes some what of a servant to Pam for the entirety if her vampire life. She is forever indebted to Pam unless she is released by her or until one of them dies. In the world of True Blood, Carmilla would somewhat be Laura’s maker because of the power she has over her and Laura isn’t free from her until she’s dead. Here is a clip from True Blood that shows the power and manipulation a maker has over their subject.