The Philosophy of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles:
Philosophical discussions of Anne Rice’s beautiful series are a rare find. I’ve pored over many internet pages in a search for some credible analysis of her books through a philosophical lens. Perhaps, the reason lies with the misconception of Anne Rice’s books. She mainly writes about vampires and her prose is often seen as being superfluous. These are roadblocks to the deep meaning that lies beneath. For the next few weeks, I’ll be doing a series of posts that will try and alter the scene on Google where the discussion of Anne Rice’s philosophical content are rare.
First Theory: The Philosophy of Death in the Anne Rice books Part 1:(Next Part delves into the character of Claudia)
Throughout Anne Rice’s books, death is seen as an enigmatic, unknowable reality within the world. None of the titular characters aim themselves towards the pursuit of death. In Greek philosophy, we are accustomed to Plato’s idea of pursuing death or in a sense, living a life that actively seeks it or fully realizes it. Plato does not mean that we should want to actively try to commit suicide in this pursuit. Instead, he characterizes this pursuit as a life lived with death overhanging us. Instead of being encumbered by this fear, we are promoted by its inevitability to live a life that seeks high moral character.
Louis, from the beginning of Anne Rice’s novel, is frightened by the prospect of death. In many ways, he was completely blind to it until the reality of it dawned on him upon the death of his brother. From there, he finds that the reality of death looms on him and seems to be inescapable. Yet, as with most mortals who find themselves at a debased moment, he decides to succumb to Lestat’s offering of immortality in order to efficiently escape the reality of death.
Interestingly, the sequence of events where Louis accepts Lestat’s offering of immortality reflects “The Garden of Eden,” In a very strange interpretation that I have formed, I believe Eve is attracted to Satan’s idea of immortality because she does not trust in Eden’s ability to provide her longevity. Satan in many ways encroached upon Eve’s blind happiness and shows the possibility that God may obliterate both her and Adam’s existence. In the end, they might revert back to the very dust that God created them with. Within that life of dust lies no meaning or purpose for one’s existence. In effect, it is the horrific reality of an atheistic universe.
Christian philosophy highlights the importance of Godly immortality. God’s immortality offers serenity and a life that is lived in full union with a person’s soul. Vampire immortality reflects the Augustinian idea of evil where it is a corrupt method to seek a good. Louis is desirous of immortality. He does not want to live a life that is ultimately void of any purpose. He wants his immortality to redeem his character and prove that his choices, passions and blunders all serve some sort of purpose.
A Vampire’s composition effectively describes Augustine’s concept that evil is an absence of good. Louis himself spiritually is a good person. His aim ultimately is towards achieving transcendence. Except, the vampire immortality he willingly accepts due to a uncontrollable fear of death only augments that fear. Within the vampire vessel, his animalistic desires overtake. They are the dominant force that continues his existence. It permits him to live within the world but only if he demoralizes himself. To some extent, he must forestall all his moral ideals and submit to the desires of his base self.
In some ways, this act of uncontrollably committing immorality against your beliefs, reflects Anne Rice’s notion of hell. In many ways, hell is envisioned as living within a corrupted self that cannot be tamed. Against your conscience, you must act in defiance of it even when you desire the high good. Louis views this existence as something far worse than death. Throughout the novel, he is tormented over the possibility that both hell and the idea of nihilism (nothingness) might be the only forces behind the masquerade of our existence. Due to this, he never truly comes to grip with the idea of death. He cannot readily accept it because he doesn’t know if he really believes in God. For many reasons he senses that he cannot because of the sinfulness of his vampire self that cannot be divested of. Also, he senses that believing in God might be futile because there might be no consciousness of self after death. Within that unconscious existence that he greatly fears, every single question ever raised about one’s existence becomes worthless.