Friday, November 26, 2010

Final Project Proposal

For my final project I would like to continue to explore the idea of the evolution of the vampire.  I think in most of the novels we have read involve some sort of evolution/change experienced by the main characters.  I enjoyed picking apart the passages of Interview very much.  Once you look between the lines of Rice's novel, a lot can be discovered about the character progression.  I would like to compare Louis with Neville from I am Legend.  Although Neville is not a vampire, he shares the same transformation/uniqueness in the society which he lives.  Neville is the sole human left in a world of vampires, and Louis is the only vampire who still holds onto his humanity.  Like Louis, Neville eventually looses his fight to grip his reality and shape it into a more desirable one. This is a powerful and interesting comparison.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Evolution of Louise the Vampire: Literary Criticism

Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire presents the reader with a totally new form of this classic horror character.  Louis, the interviewee, is a man at the end of his rope.  After the death of his brother, Louis cannot bear to live longer, but cannot find the gusto to end his own life.  He encounters Lestat, a vampire, and is turned himself.  Louis begins a long journey of finding himself in this new role of no longer living, but not dead.  He is not like any other vampires we have encountered in literature prior to this in one distinct way; he cannot bring himself to feed on humans.  This begins an interesting and telling evolution of the death of the man within the vampire.  By looking at a few keys passages from Rice’s novel, the evolution of Louis into full blown vampirism can be seen. 
            The first passage we will look from Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire comes from page 54 of the novel. 
I had to kill him.  He started to run.  He would have alarmed everyone.  Perhaps it might have been handled some other way, but I had no time.  So I went after him, overpowering him.  But then, finding myself in the act of doing what I had not done for four years, I stopped.  This was a man.  He had his bone-handled knife in his hand to defend himself.
Rice describes Louis first encounter with feeding on human blood.  Before this time, Louis relied on animal blood to sustain his vampirism.  Louis emphasizes the necessity of the act.  He seems as though he is a man with no other option.  Louis stresses that he “had” to chase after and kill this human.  Furthermore, Louis reminds the reader that he had “no time” to mull over the situation and think of a better course of action.  Finally, Louis stops this act of vampirism when he finally realizes what has happened.  It seems as though he feels a sense of remorse for his actions, commenting that this is “a man” who is trying to defend himself from an attacker.  In this passage the reader sees Louis in his infant stages of becoming a vampire.  He does kill for fun or sport like his maker Lestat, but rather looks at this act as a necessity to preserve his own well-being.  Louis rationalizes the act by saying the man would have told everyone about the vampires in New Orleans therefore putting his safety in serious jeopardy.  After this encounter, the reader understands a new form of the vampire.  Louis is compassionate and conscious of the effects vampires have on the world around them.    
            Our next passage furthers the evolution of Louis as a vampire.  Although the reader may feel some sympathy to the condition of the compassionate vampire, this does not last for long. 
I could feel the fever for the kill rising in me, a knot of hunger in my insides, a throbbing in the temples as if the veins were contracting and my body might become a map of tortured vessels (Rice 122).
Again the reader experiences the thirst of a vampire, but for the first time this is coming from Louis.  He describes the need for the kill in a very graphic way.  Furthermore, it is important to note than many of the terms Louis uses seem to echo that of the heart.  He focuses on words like throbbing, veins, contracting, and vessels.  This passage is a fantastic example of the syntax Rice uses throughout the novel to stress the need for blood that courses through a vampires psyche.  Louis is beginning to sound very similar to his other vampire companions.  The reader feels a sense of need for blood, more specifically human.  Louis no longer laments over the kill, or does it out of necessity.  He feels the “fever for the kill” mounting inside him.  Louis is no longer satisfied with animals and clearly needs something more.  In addition, the need for a kill gives Louis “a knot of hunger inside him.”  He is starving for the taste of blood.  This stands in stark contrast to the Louis the reader encounters with the old man running from him.  He is no longer looking to kill simply for necessity, but is searching for a victim to feed on. 
            Louis transformation is almost complete.  The last passage we will examine comes from page 254 of Rice’s novel. 
Not physical love, you must understand.  I don’t speak of that at all, though Armand was beautiful and simple, and no intimacy with him would ever have been repellent.  For vampires, physical love culminates and is satisfied in one thing, the kill.
One of the most human acts that is discussed in the novel is physical love.  It is one of the few things that is common between us and vampires.  Although this is true, Louis equates this act to the kill.  He even goes as far to say that it “culminates and is satisfied” by a singular act of taking a victim.  In this, his transformation from fully human to completely vampire has occurred.  He no longer has the shreds of humanity that hold him back in the beginning of the novel.  His transformation is one of the more fascinating themes of the novel for two reasons.  First, Louis is the first character we have encountered that seems to hold onto his humanity even after he has become a vampire.  He does so with his compassion for victims, the recognition of his actions, and their effect on others.  Secondly, Louis shows compassion for his fellow vampires.  Not until his, and his companions, lives are threatened does Louis commit an act of vampirism on another human.  He is conscious of the peril his society lives in and does his part to protect it.  In this, an analysis of Louis as a character in Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire is one of the most intriguing and fruitful in the vampire literature we have read this semester.  

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Queering of Culture

As we have discussed before, there is a strong relationship between light/dark and the human/undead world.  George Haggerty, in his article "Anne Rice and the Queering of Culture" discusses this in the context of vampirism as a homo erotic act.  In previous blogs I have discussed how light and dark play into the vampire persona.  Vampires stratle the worlds of the living and the dead.  Many of the ones we have come across feel the need to made relationships with their victims, a throwback to their human nature.  Furthermore, like Louise, they show compassion for the victims and do not simply kill for sport.  Although this is true, Haggerty chooses to examine the vampire from a different perspective; that of the homosexual nature.  "The vampire moves with the suave invisibility of the prototypical gay man: offering companionship, friendship, even love, before revealing his true and deadly nature; appearing silently and taking his pleasure ruthlessly; and suffering for his sexual transgression by being shut out from the light and condemned to an eternity of darkness" (Haggerty 7).  Haggerty seems to imply that their prison of darkness is some sort of punishment, not for their vampirism, but for their homosexual nature.  His thirst not only for blood but sexual conquest of all types is so great that darkness is the only thing that can contain it to some extent.  Haggerty further expands on this idea later in his essay.

The author looks at a passage where Lestat encounters a heap of rotting bodies that have similar builds, features, and attributes as himself.  This is very evident because at the end of the passage Lestat comments that these dead, rotting corpses could even pass for his brothers.  Haggerty's handling of the meaning of this passage is interesting.  From his discussion I gathered that he sees this heap of bodies analogous to Lestat. "The putrefying heap also represents culture's deepest fear of the male relations that structure it" (Haggerty 10).  The heap can be seen as a representation of how this counter-culture could effect the status quo of a society; turn these attractive and fit men into rotting and decaying corpses.  I do not necessarily agree with Haggerty's assessment of this passage.  Rice could be forcing Lestat to confront his transgressions in this passage.  He throws up at the sight of it, implying that Lestat feels some sort of guilt/disgust at what the heap might represent.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Concept of the Monster

When comparing the vampires in Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire with those we have encountered before, the concept of the monster becomes somewhat clouded.  Most the vampires we have encountered, Dracula, those in I Am Legend, and Ruthven, we see a group with a savage nature.  They are content with the cycle of vampirism (find a human, befriend them, and feed on them).  Furthermore, their feeding is seen as a necessity of vampirism.  Lestat of Interview with the Vampire seems to follow this archetype.  He is completely alright with feeding on the slaves of Louis' plantation.  "They were the suspicious ones; and, as I've indicated, Lestat killed anyone and everyone he chose" (49).  Although this is true, Louis is much less comfortable to feed on the species he once was; human.
Here is where the concept of the monster becomes a bit clouded.  Louis, unlike any other vampire we have encountered, seems to have a conscious in terms of his feeding habits.  He is unable to bring himself to feed on humans at first.  As a result, Louis instead chooses to sustain his vampirism with animal blood.  "Lestat for slaves and chicken thieves and me for animals" (42).  Even when Louis is pressed to kill Lestat's father, something that he must do for his new friend, Louis laments the task. "No I said.  You forgive him or you kill your own father" (56).  Louis seems to hold on to the characteristics that are completely human much more than any other vampire we have encountered.  He has compassion, a conscious, and the ability to separate right from wrong.  As a result, he is a new breed of vampire, unlike the others we have read about.  I am curious to see if Louis' character becomes like the others or retains this element of humanity.      

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Patterson Essay

Much of my online artifact focuses on this very topic.  Matheson's  I Am Legend was written in a very volatile time in American history.  It was the start of the modern civil rights movement and the dawn of the Cold War.  There was much uncertainty about the future of the world and America's place in it.  In many ways Matheson's novel is a commentary on this simple fact.  

As the civil rights movement gained steam, many Americans in the majority felt that they should be contained, i.e. separate but equal.  Race was seen as a consequence of humanity much like vampirism is in the novel.  "In this novel, vampirism is not a supernatural curse but a consequence of biological warfare."  Matheson's commentary on this fact is clear when analyzing the character of Robert Neville.  

Neville focuses on an understanding of the creatures that torment him throughout his nights of solitude.  He is not a scientist, like in the movie, but performs tests of all kinds on the creatures blood and other samples to gain an understanding.  Through his tests he discovers that these creatures are more human than he once thought.  This same philosophy can be applied to the social climate of the times.  

Matheson is clearly suggesting that, although civil right movement members represent a minority aspect of the population, they are people and deserve to be treated as such.  Furthermore, if we seek to understand those who are different than us a common ground will almost always be found. Matheson challenges the reader to approach the current social climate through a scientific/observational perspective.  Simply siding with the majority, who usually holds incorrect assumptions, leads to dangerous consequences.  "His character parallels, in many ways, the “self-conscious but highly problematic construction of the American as a new white man.”