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Discuss the relationship between sexuality and cruelty AND/OR or death in any TWO texts.

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Introduction

Discuss the relationship between sexuality and cruelty AND/OR or death in any TWO texts. Dracula's brutal sexuality is exposed when Mina is physically forced to drink the Count's blood. However, in contrast, Lestat psychologically taunts Claudia because she will never experience adult sexuality. Vampires, therefore, cannot be characterised as homogenous creatures, but like humans have considerably differing natures that are driven by individual desires. From this assertion, my argument in this essay will discuss the diverse nature of vampires and humans in the texts Dracula and Interview With The Vampire. Besides suggesting that power, sadism and erotic desire are fundamental to the relationship between sexuality and cruelty. Vampires crave power. In Dracula, power is manifested by the Count's defense of his aristocratic heritage. Michel Foucault's work on sexuality reminds us that: 'one of the characteristic privileges of sovereign power was the right to decide life and death' (Foucault p.135). Considering this, Jonathan Harker's commentary assists in determining Dracula's perception of social status, as his journal comments on the exalted manner in which the Count expresses himself: 'Whenever he spoke of his house he always said "we," and spoke almost in the plural, like a king speaking' (Stoker p.40). In which case Jonathan Harker's diary establishes the Count's assumptions concerning his position in the social strata. Dracula then, is clearly an advocate of feudal systems of power, and seeks to defend and possess divine power. Therefore Dracula's Eastern aristocratic heritage is defended and extended, through the destruction of mortal sexuality. As well as attacking the West, since he first attacks Lucy Westenra, a surname signifying perhaps Westerner? By attacking women, Dracula seeks to possess absolute authority over Western males, by usurping human procreation. It is clearly significant then, that Dracula attacks women, as he attempts to succeed in this quest by making love not war against his enemies. Dracula is intent on making the women his own, seen in the threat to Van Helsing's men: 'Your girls that you all love are mine already; - my creatures, to do my bidding...' ...read more.

Middle

Yet, in Interview With The Vampire antagonism is an omnipresent threat within vampire society since internal power struggles continually occur. The New World vampires commonly experience discord amongst their own kind, as they compete for power. Thus establishing amongst them a hierarchical order, as well as an omnipresent fear of rebellion from the subordinate vampire. Therefore, when Lestat indulges in grotesque forms of sexuality it is used as a mechanism to maintain superiority over Louis. Lestat clearly glories in sexual perversity when he realises he has found a way to keep Louis, and relishes sexual voyeurism, as he secretly observes Louis take Claudia. Lestat's perverse sexual pleasure shocks Louis: 'It was Lestat...laughing, his body bent as he danced in the mud street....he taunted me ...he'd caught me in the act' (Rice p.83). However, both participate in sexual cruelty, when Claudia is made into a vampire, as Lestat and Louis both engage in paedophile and incestuous activities. This is seen as Louis and Lestat claim Claudia their as daughter and bed partner, offering to share their coffin with her during the day. By making Louis, the synthetic mother of Claudia, Lestat continues as dominant male vampire, because Louis is now trapped by his 'maternal' responsibilities for the child. Here, Anne Rice's text reveals a feminist agenda connected to sexuality and power. The vampire relationship bears comparison to the mortal world, since the birth of children, has been a device with which to entrap women. Therefore, the dilemma of Louis, is doubled with that of subjugated mortal women. Claudia is a crazy mixed up (vampire) kid, for she presents a number of paradoxes. Firstly, she has a considerable amount in common with her 'father' Lestat. Therefore, a Freudian psychoanalysis, where a child and parent of opposite sexes form a close bond is a particularly appropriate analysis of the relationship between Lestat and Claudia. This is evident since the seduction of entire families by Claudia, and Lestat's daily menu of young woman as entree and young man as desert, show both vampires enjoy engaging in ritualistic sexual depravity. ...read more.

Conclusion

As Louis recalls Madeleine's insatiable lust was painful: 'it was cutting me, scoring me, so I all but cried out as it went on and on...' (Rice p.292). Therefore, a close alliance between the two female vampires must present an enormous risk to the domination of sexuality by male vampires. As a consequence, both Claudia and Madeleine die whilst Louis survives. Furthermore, this is not convincing justice for the death of Lestat, as Madeleine is innocent. Clearly, the vampires are motivated by fear of the potent liaison between Claudia and Madeleine. Furthermore, Louis is rescued from death, because of the homoerotic desire of Armand. A relationship that is now possible, as the two overtly lasciviousness female vampires and their, powerful natures are extinguished. Therefore, in Interview With The Vampire, sexuality and cruelty function principally to sustain male sexual domination and homoerotic relationships. One of the main points I have argued in this essay, is that power and sexual cruelty prevail through conflict. My assertion in Dracula is that conflict is external to vampire existence, whereas in contrast, internal conflicts exist in Interview With The Vampire. Therefore in conclusion, it is essential to say that although both narratives are told in the first person, the viewpoints in the text are endorsed by use of opposing narrative strategies. In Dracula the text is narrated by mortals, therefore the reader is greatly influenced by the mortal perspective. Whilst in contrast, the narrative of Interview With The Vampire is recounted from a vampire's perspective. Accordingly, then, Dracula and Interview With The Vampire, present the reader with a textual biased perspective. The narrators present their own ideologies relating to power and sexual cruelty projecting their own identities and environment. As Michel Foucault argues: 'We must conceptualize the deployment of sexuality on the basis of the techniques of power that are contemporary with it (Foucault p.150). Therefore, sexuality and cruelty, operate by reflecting the personal, political and social opinions of their narrators. Consequently, Dracula reflects mortal ethics, in contrast to Interview With The Vampire, which through a single narrative is unmistakably opinionated but applies vampiric reasoning. ...read more.

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