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English Lit - How Far is Anne Rice Successful in distancing her characters from the stereotypical Vampire?

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Introduction

How far is Anne Rice successful in Interview With The Vampire in distancing her characters from the stereotypical vampire. The vampire is a mythical creature; in all likelihood, one of the most well-known. The vampire myth began in the cases of Peter Plogojowitz and Arnold Paole in Serbia; both suspected to have become vampires after their death. Shortly after, one of the first pieces of literature to be published on the subject was the short German poem The Vampire (1748) by Heinrich August Ossenfelder. Though the vampire of modern fiction was created as a character in 1819 with the publication of The Vampyre by John Polidori, it is Bram Stoker's Dracula, published in 1897 that has quintessentially created the stereotype for vampires; a volatile temper, incapable of forming romantic ties, pitiful of humans and hardly ever intimate with their own emotions, often seen as the very embodiment of evil. The degree to which Rice is successful in distancing her characters from the stereotype varies. Firstly, it should be noted that it was in the later part of the 20th century that saw the change of behaviour in vampire literature from that of the embodiment of evil to that of poetic tragic heroes, which Rice eventually adopted and transformed into The Vampire Chronicles. Rice appears to have attempted to twist the myth of the vampire both in physical terms and in terms of behavior and temperament; arguably to create a modern version of it. The first and most obvious manner in which Rice breaks traditional vampire literature conventions is by having the central character, Louis De ...read more.

Middle

The variety of physical appearances is observed in Louis' physical descriptions of other vampires; from "graceful" and "feline" (on Lestat, page 12), "beautiful" (on Claudia, page 104), "radiant" (On Armand, Page 248) to "sinister" (On Santiago, page 229). Whilst doing this however, she also retains evident traces of the stereotypical grimness from the vampires in Interview With The Vampire; their appearance still evokes an initial reaction of fear within humans, as displayed in the third-person description of Louis in the opening of the book. It could be argued that Rice tries to distance her characters physically from humans to create a contrast with the emotional and mental similarity with humans that the vampires possess. In addition to that, it could be argued that Rice tries to modernize the myth of vampires in Interview With The Vampire by doing away with certain characteristics that have been part of the stereotype. Firstly, her vampires are not affected by crucifixes; "Nonsense, my friend, sheer nonsense." says Louis in regards to the myth (page 27). In addition to that, they are not affected by the presence of garlic either; Louis and Claudia both pass through a door, above which a garland of garlic is hung. (page 186. ) In addition to that, Rice also removes the myth of stakes through the heart; "Bull-sh*t", says Louis in regards to this myth, (page 27). Louis further expresses his disappointment that vampires cannot, in fact, pass through keyholes ;"I wish I could", says Louis, (page 27). ...read more.

Conclusion

There is, however, another element that Rice's vampire shares with Dracula; for both characters, the transfusion and taking of blood is represented and depicted in a sexual manner, and both texts contain a sense of sexual ambiguity. Fred Botting in his book "Gothic" identified the manner in which the transfer of blood in Dracula represents a perverse form of sexuality that is unbounded by traditional gender roles, as blood symbolically substitutes semen. This attitude of blood-transfusions symbolizing sex and gender ambiguity is adopted by Rice; this is demonstrated in Louis describing the sensation right before transfusion as "not unlike passion" (page 23) and describing sucking blood for the first time as a "special pleasure" (page 23). In conclusion, physically speaking, Rice's vampires differ slightly from the stereotypical vampire, in that she adds a graceful element to their appearances; however, her modernizing of the myth has made room for the modern vampire which could even become the stereotype in years to come. Mentally and temperamentally speaking, Rice creates vampires that have an in-depth personality that consists of more than a cynical attitude and a thirst for blood. From the array of vampires in Interview with the Vampire, Lestat is the vampire who comes closest to the stereotype of traditional vampires in terms of temperament; hot-tempered, possessive, moody and seemingly incapable of forming steady relationships. In creating Lestat, Rice pays homage to the stereotypical vampire, without which the books in her Vampire Chronicles may not have been present. Word Count: 1,989 words. ...read more.

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