Hello Coven Members-
I’m posting here once again, as promised, and am providing the requisite discussion post for this week. If you’re not already aware, our discussions take place on our coven’s Facebook page or by leaving a comment below. In case, you wish to be updated on the events on the Coven’s page, via email, you can join our newsletter. More details can be found on the sub-page of this blog: Lestat Book Coven’s Meeting Room (and I know it needs to be tidied up once again)
Discussion Questions for Week #5, of our discussion of Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice
1. If this is your first time reading this section, what is your initial reaction to Claudia’s insidious plan to destroy Lestat? Do you think the film adaptation did a poor job of casting Lestat in a sympathetic light?
If this isn’t your first time reading this book, what are your current feelings about this entire segment of the novel?
Well, since this probably my third or fourth reading, I’ll be bold, and say that I sympathize much more with Claudia this time around. She has to be Anne Rice’s most complex, paradoxical characters, but she is also very defiant and audacious, during an era when women were basically castigated for showing any overt signs of being assertive by any means.
Claudia is the foil of Babette, in that Babette represents a fully mature women (both physically and mentally), whereas Claudia’s very tragedy is having that opportunity to become mature in a physical sense denied to her. So, Claudia’s identity crisis is rooted in cognitive dissonance, over her maturing mind versus her ageless physical body. That already is setting her up for a tragic disaster for her character, in more ways than one, and she views the destruction of Lestat- the one responsible for bestowing this tragedy on her without her mature consent- as her only means to vindicate the wrong done to her. So, I actually feel much more sympathetic of Claudia, whereas I did not entirely understand the reasons for her malicious plot to destroy Lestat, when I first read the book.
Now, my hugest discrepancy with the film is the way Lestat almost seems far too exaggerated, in his arrogance. Perhaps, they were capturing the almost clownish smugness of Lestat, as reproduced by the impartial perespective of Louis in the novel. Yet, the duty of the film should be to convey the characters outside of that boxed-in, first-person perspective of the character that the book provides.
In that way, we never quite sympathize with Lestat. I cannot speak to the feelings of other audience members, but as I’ll elaborate in the answer below, we never quite get the complexity of Louis and Lestat’s relationship, as such the audience cheers on Lestat’s destruction, rather than have complex, mixed feelings about the dilemma Louis finds himself in. He is never quite certain whether to have blind rage for what has befallen him, and thus resort to try to seek vengeance out on Lestat (In the book, the readers are much more aware by Louis’ reluctance to kill Lestat,as he seeks instead ways of getting passage out of America.)
2.More importantly, why does Louis initially go along with Claudia’s plan, until he begins to experience deep regrets after the event occurs?
The one thing that really stuck out, like a sore-thumb, through my third or fourth reading was how much Louis acts as a substitute mother/guardian to Claudia. He carries her burdens, tries to allay her existential woes, and flashes of youthful rebellion. I love that sequence, in the last segment that our coven read, where he attempts to pacify Lestat’s fatherly anger towards Claudia. Lestat’s anger was very much patriarchal, in a sense, as he is legitimately confused by the more feminized conflicts that Claudia undergoes. To someone like Lestat or any father really, they are a blind man, groping in the proverbial dark, when it comes to trying to understand the unique psychological dilemmas for anyone with a more feminized psyche (I am not using the term, feminized, to imply stereotypical weakness, just as a way to show some kind of recognizable gender differences, even if slight, in the types of psychological conflicts that arise for the characters in the story).
So, Louis is mostly going along with Claudia’s plan because he is doting “mother,” in a sense, and seeks above all else to quell her worries and coddle her with love. At the same time, his reluctance is shown by how confused and anxious he becomes over the nature of Claudia’s plans, which involves the death of Louis’ husband in a sense. In the Freudian marriage of psychological opposites, Louis resembles the superego (or the overpowering conscience), and Lestat serves as the ID (capricious, wildly passionate). Personalities may clash, but opposites are actually attracted to one another, because it creates the most dynamic type of relationship. Both Louis and Lestat subconsciously need something that the other lacks; therefore, one cannot live really without the other. So, destroying Lestat is symbolically the destruction of Louis’ subversive family structure in the novel, and it also spells the demise of his one connection to the world, outside of his own amplified sense that the world is a great abyss.
All Louis’ complex feelings about Lestat, and the psychological complexity of their relationship, is subtly shown in the film, but it is never anywhere near as complex as it is shown within the pages of Anne Rice’s novel.
What are your own feelings on these questions? Leave a comment below, or post on our coven’s Facebook page.
Until then, the next assignment for week #6 will appear next week!!
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5 Comments Add yours
Personally, I wasn’t all that surprised with Claudia’s plot to murder Lestat. Given what you read up until that point it gets pretty clear that his “death” at one of their hands will be inevitable. You almost begin to ask yourself who will be the one to end their captivity, but then you begin to take stock in what you already know about the characters up to that point. Louis is an unlikely candidate because he values life too much and has something that most vampires appear not to, he has a conscience. He may see himself stuck with Lestat, but he could never bring himself to end Lestat’s existence regardless of how useless and irritating he might find him to be.
Claudia, on the other hand, doesn’t suffer from that same malady because by design she is perpetually stuck with a child’s anger. Until a child is taught empathy their entire existence is all about them regardless of the cost to others. Children are the epidiome of the term sociopath until they learn to care for others. Claudia it appears never finished that developmental stage before she was turned so she has no moral compass. Her desires are that of a child’s so she goes by the primal instinct of “if I want it, its mine. If I think I like it , its mine and if I say its mine, its mine.” Its the same mentality that a two year old understands. She sees Lestat as a roadblock to hers and Louis’ freedom and since freedom is what she wants, she will have her way, just like any child.
I think the movie did a better job at portraying Lestat as a villain than a sympathetic creature. It showed more of his ability to manipulate people than it did how he cared for any of them. You almost begin to wonder if he truly was capable of caring for anyone really. It isn’t until Queen of the Damned that you begin to see Lestat differently I think. Vampire Lestat gave you a better understanding of where the whiney rich kid attitude stemmed from, but it’s in Queen of the Damned that he begins to show some type of emotion for others. Far be it a small amount to start with, but its there.
2) I think Louis initially agrees to Claudia’s plans because it gives him a way out, so to speak. I mean, he’s been whining about wanting to be free of Lestat whom he feels he can learn nothing from and up until Claudia’s plan has taken no action to do so. She presents him with a golden opportunity and in true Louis fashion he agonizes it to death. He can’t just accept the gift that’s been handed to him ( a morbid gift to be sure, but a gift nonetheless) and take some small amount of pleasure from it. No, he has to agonize over the moral aspects of it because they did after all just destroy their maker and his only companion for a time. I love the fact that Louis has such a high respect for life, but come on dude…enough whining already!
There is quite a lot to absorb here, and thank you so much for providing your input. The one thing I found interesting,from your comment, is the description of Claudia as a sociopath, which I guess contributes to the overall tragic quality of her character. And, the other point you brought about Louis is really quite true, and I think he does, in some sense, want to be liberated from Claudia.
At the same time, I still see an almost maternal attachment to Claudia that I found interesting in this third or fourth reading. It really stuck out to me. The fact that all readers come away with different things, almost like different configurations or color schemes in a kaleidoscope, attests to Anne Rice’s sheer ingenuity and talent.
i feel sorry for claudia, but also for Lestat, he wasnt educated by his maker, and left to figure this stuff out on his own, Lestat didnt want to be alone so there fore made Claudia to keep Louie, but Lestat seemed to really care almost love claudia for a while. number2 Louie went along with the plan not just for Claudia, but because he also was ready to move on.
In many ways, Lestat does carry on the tradition of being a neglectful father in a very subconscious way. Both his creator and his own father were not very attentive to his emotional or psychological needs, which grew in complexity, once he was created into a vampire.