The Vampire Of J. Sheridan Le Fanu

1603 Words7 Pages
The figure of the vampire has become inherently familiar in Western culture, experiencing an enduring popularity in literature, film, and television, particularly since the fin de siècle. Though they appear to be human, they are radically Other, an ‘undead’ species which preys on the human for survival. As such, the vampire has come to embody a multiplicity of meanings, to represent various social anxieties. This is indeed the case with the eponymous vampire of J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s ‘Carmilla’ (1872), whose monstrosity derives not least from the fact that she female. Similarly, the title characters of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories ‘Berenicë’ (1835) and ‘Ligeia’ (1838), though not actual vampires, are vampiric figures, whose presence ‘preys’ on the mind of their narrators. All three stories, then, can be read in terms of the anxieties surrounding the authority of patriarchal order in the early-mid Victorian period. The female vampire (figure) encroaches on male space, both physically and mentally, and engenders a male instinct to attempt to contain them in various ways. Through a lens of psychoanalysis, this essay will consider the possible reasons behind these attempts, the processes by which they are enacted, and ultimately, will question whether or not these aims are successful. One of the most consistently enduring features of the vampire is its teeth, the quasi-animalistic extension by which they penetrate their victims. Indeed, a reading of Berenicë as a
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