GIF Image of the Week!
If you are following this ongoing series of discussions, I apologize for the belated nature of this post. In the newsletter, I mentioned that I would post this at 7pm Eastern on Sunday. Yet again, other sudden writing interests distracted me that entire day. But, I feel sober of mind, and ready to delve into our third installment of the continuing in-depth Lestat Book Coven discussion of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire.
Below, you will find each of my own take on the four different discussion questions! As always, you are free to overlook these, in favor of having an completely uncluttered mind, when tackling these four different questions, relating to the 24 pages that were assigned for Week #3.
As always, all discussions will be held on the Facebook Group Page, for Lestat’s Book Coven!!
Without tiring myself out intellectually, I’ve decided to only discuss the first two questions, and will leave the other questions up to you to figure out!! That way, I won’t feel like I am guiding the discussion for every question, but providing analysis of questions I opt to discuss. There will now be four questions, and I will discuss two of them in-depth for now on.
1. What are your first impressions of Claudia’s character? How does her first appearance in the novel, perhaps compare to the character of Babette? Chronologically-speaking, why do you feel that these scenes seem to occur in quick succession of one another?
In the earliest scenes of the novel where Claudia appears, she appears as a five-year old girl, who has just witnessed the ineffably tragic scene of her mother’s death. One of the most tragic elements, in terms of her transformation, is that she is deprived of the experience of maturing physically and mentally. As a vampire, her physical maturation comes to a complete cessation, even though the mental maturation of Claudia’s character continues unimpeded.
So, in many ways, she is very much an innocent fledgling during her initial transformation sequence, and she never has the psychological advantage of Louis (in terms of age, as a mortal, before being transformed into a vampire) to question the morality of whether or not killing another human being, in order to sate your primal thirst for their blood and vitality, is an immoral act. To someone that young who has also been left in bereft circumstances (brought about via death of her mother/consequent confusing daze of grief), she is never given the chance to mature as a human woman, nor really ever given the chance to have mature agency over her choice, of whether or not she even wishes to be a vampire. In some forms of Christianity, there is a reason why baptism is never given to infants, as infants and children do not have the mental sophistication of an adult to make an intellectually mature choice.
To me, Babette serves as a clever use of foreshadowing and also acts as a character foil that reflects the uninterrupted opportunity for Babette to take ownership of her plantation, against all negative implications of women undertaking that kind of role in that era. She represents a mature, intellectual woman that Claudia later begins to mentally evolve into, even though she is physically trapped in the body of a five-year old girl. There is a certain cruelty in this type of horrific arrangement, and that is why most vampire tales usually deal with the ethical dangers to turning children into vampires.
More importantly, we are also dealing with an element of misogyny, as well, because Claudia’s missed opportunity to become physically mature also connotes a certain denial of her chance to sexually express herself as a mature human woman. As a vampire, she is denied this important facet of not just being a fully dimensional woman, but a well-rounded, healthy human being.
2. So far, we have only been introduced to two female characters with explicit dialogue in the novel. Some critics have remarked on the supposed subtle sexism of Anne Rice’s writing, which is not necessarily a very fair or astute observation. Do you think Babette’s character was a well-developed character? Are these issues even important, given that the main psychological focal point is that of a fairly complex, slightly feminized male character, like Louis?
Feminist critics that have stated that Interview with the Vampire is dominated by male characters, and as such seem to opine that the book has an undercurrent of sexism are providing a very superficial analysis of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, and not looking a the subtle development of these characters.
Yes, there is a certain lack of female presence in the way of literal female characters, but the female characters in the story are suffused with depth, nuance, and psychological intrigue. More importantly, some of the female characters offer some of the most interesting introspective looks into the psyche of vampires, and the psychology of women.
For example, the character of Babette is a dynamic character that serves as the one human character that has a fleeting interaction with Louis, without shying away from him. The fact that she doesn’t violently attack him, or immediately judge him as a manifestation of Satan (until later in this segment of the story) shows a certain shred of intellectual curiosity that causes her to listen attentively to what Louis has to tell her, while he is expertly hidden away in the shadows from her.
More importantly, she follows her intuition and advice from Louis, and begins to do something very counter-cultural in that time period, which is to take up the reigns of controlling the plantation left to her by her brother. Even though, the story implies that she emotionally struggles with the strong tide of controversy from her neighbors; she still tries to the best of her ability to succeed in keeping financial control of her estate.
Later in Interview with the Vampire, one of the most critical psychological conflicts come from the most interesting character in the Vampire Chronicles-Claudia. She becomes strong, intellectually defiant, and she has many contradictions to her character that has intrigued readers for years. Much like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, she serves the role of being an enigma of sorts, and she is someone that a few handful of literary critics cannot ascertain whether she is really either a strong or weak character. To me, none of those distinctions matter because they are inferring correctly that she is a wholly complex character, who just happens to be a female character.
In the same vein, Louis’ gender as a vampire becomes far less important than the moral and philosophical complexities of his own personal struggles that are far deeper in analysis than some of the less important gender issues. I think the very purpose of providing depth to Louis and Claudia was to show Anne Rice’s keen sense of gender blindness, which helps her structure complex human characters, in the end.
What are your own thoughts on the first two questions, and how about your thoughts on questions three and four? As always, feel free to leave a comment below on this blog post, and post things that pop up in your mind on the Lestat Book Coven Facebook Group Page!
3. What do you think Lestat’s motivations are for aiding in the creation of Claudia and allowing her to join their growing coven? Do you think Lestat uses Louis reluctance to feed on humans, as part of his master plan to eventually have Claudia join their newly formed coven?
4. Do you notice any differences in Louis’ psychological state, after experiencing the many traumatic events described in the first few pages? It is easy to become exceedingly annoyed with Louis’ tendency to whine, but do you think Anne Rice provides enough character development of Louis to make his whining justified? To really understand Louis’ psychological condition, it is really helpful to read websites that comprehensively detail what happens to people psychologically, when they have undergone a traumatic experience like witnessing the death of a loved one.
If you didn’t already know, Prince Lestat is being offered for pre-order through Barnes and Nobles with a rather exciting addition. All copies of the book, pre-ordered through Barnes and Nobles will be signed by Anne Rice herself.