Carmilla. Sheridan Le Fanu. (). An Early Fright. In Styria, we, though by no means magnificent people, inhabit a castle, or schloss. A small income, in that. Project Gutenberg · 59, free ebooks · 32 by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. No cover available. Carmilla. J. Sheridan Le Fanu. First published in This web edition published by [email protected] Last updated Wednesday, December 17, at.
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"Carmilla" is a Gothic novella by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. "Carmilla" predates Bram Stoker's Dracula by twenty five years, had a strong. Free download of Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu. Available in PDF, ePub and site. Read, write reviews and more. "Carmilla" is a Gothic novella by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. First published in , it tells the story of a young woman's susceptibility to the attentions of a.
A nobleman who originally vanquished the vampire in the village near the Karnstein estate by cutting off its head.
Like Madame Perrodon, she is also taken with Carmilla. Doctor Spielsberg The doctor who examines Laura and warns her father of the true cause of her illness. Son of the picture cleaner The man who delivers the portrait of Mircalla Karnstein. He presents the portraits to Laura, her father, and Carmilla. Woodman Old man who takes care of the lands surrounding the old Karnstein mansion. He informs them about the vampires that had attacked the villages before being defeated by a Moravian nobleman.
First Physician The first doctor who examines Bertha. He laughs at the suggestion of supernatural causes for her illness.
Physician from Gratz Physician who examines Bertha and tells the General she has been bitten by a vampire. Although the General is skeptical of the existence of the supernatural, he decides to listen to the physician out of a desperate desire to save his niece. She seems opposed to religion.
Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
Indeed, she might express a peculiar jealousy towards people who can die in peace, if we take into account that a vampire is above all an eternal being condemned never to die and to roam forever. And I hate funerals-What a fuss! Besides, the fatal men of the romantic are mysterious, bear traces of burnt-out passions and have melancholy habits. In les Fleurs du Mal, Baudelaire underlined that melancholy has a charm of its own. Carmilla belongs to this family of heartbroken dark characters whose mystery awakens desire.
Thus, the gothic is an endless rewriting, a challenge to defeat history and its destructive aspect to recover origin. The Villain is one of the archetypes which may embody this assumption. Jung argues that the further we go down the dark I , the more we lose our individuality. Everything becomes collective We reach then the great primitive images of the collective unconscious.
We all inherited these structures, remains of a forgotten past.
The gothic, which is an actual fantastic return to the past, could be then the expression of these archetypes. It is a special direction : horizontal lines suggest a stagnation while vertical ones evoke a digging, a deepening, a going down to what is common to all of us : it is the refusal of the outside for the sake of the inside.
In the XIXth century, the unconscious is no more questioned in terms of evil exteriority but in terms of a double. The Villain Hero is hence an invention of the gothic Carmilla definitely recalls and incarnates. To explore the theme of the double, we need to have recourse to the study of die unheimliche.
Freud developed the idea of uncanny aspects and founded his thesis on the work of Otto Rank. Heimlich in German means familiar, native, belonging to home. Unheimlich means then unfamiliar. But heimlich also means that which is concealed and out of sight. Thus, antinomism is suggested by the very definition of the word unheimlich. Indeed, it means both unfamiliar and that which was hidden and that suddenly comes to light.
This opposition is linked with the uncertainty present in Carmilla. Of course, this theme is directly concerned with the idea of a double.
So, there is a dividing and interchanging force acting on the ego. Jean Potocki explains that, in this respect, the double is created by a mirror effect which would reflect endlessly the same story Moreover, this ancestor is called Millarca , an anagram for Carmilla. All of a sudden, the story between Laura and Carmilla and the singularity of their relationship becomes episodically recurring. It has been repeated in the past and will certainly be in the future. Carmilla resembles then an ancient sort of serial killer who accumulates numerous victims under the shape of a vampire.
This repetition, typical of our existence and observed by Freud on a young child who lost his mother, recalls what Freud named Thanatos, an impulsive tendency to repeat harmful experiences.
The unconscious is linked with an instinctual activity: it has the power to overrule the pleasure principle and shows not only our impulsions for life Eros but also our impulsions for the inorganic Thanatos , as already mentioned before. By erasing the distinction between imagination and reality, Le Fanu uses a classical device: Fiedler talks about a way to resolve the contradictions a Gothic tale might contain, in order to secure the credibility of the story.
One convention is to treat magic as science and bring on it the respectability the Age of Reason looked forward to finding. Hesselius obviously admires the vampire at least as much as he hates it and echoes therefore certain ambivalence. Jackson demonstrates the close relationship between literary fantasy and narcissism.
He recognizes himself as an object, as if seen in a mirror look of others it passes from subjectivity to a whole unified body in his subjectivity. Then, the ego constructs himself with a model: the ideal self coming from culture and represses instincts.
Thus, the fantastic often suggests this fight between a primary narcissism and ideal ego In Carmilla, numerous phallic symbols can be deciphered. The concept of Castration appears then as a leitmotiv which is redundant and omnipresent. We will try to demonstrate that the mental castration is the essential one.
Then, we will argue that the fathers try to castrate themselves to avoid incest. Logically, we will then study how the symbolic order, which is the law, intervenes. Thus, we will show how Carmilla acts against the law and against castration so far as she represents a desire that reaches full satisfaction.
Moreover, the 22 Fantasy, the Literature of Subversion, In the short story, we can easily see that Carmilla is a castrating figure. Here, impotence is suggested. I have often placed my hands under it and laughed with wonder at its weight. In fact, cutting his hair means annihilating his power, his virility. Thus, Carmilla suggests phallic symbols that are both castrating and pleasurable. Still, castration is not only symbolized by the phallus and it is beyond genital considerations since it can be mental.
In Carmilla, no one sees that the main character is a vampire and some problems of representation support the idea that we have to do with a castration of the look. What if a boyish lover had found his way into the house [ Here, a double castration can be found: if Carmilla were a man, she would have castrated herself by putting on feminine clothes.
Anyway, no one seems able to see that she is a vampire until the hunched back finds out her real nature. This castration of the eyes, whether it concerns the characters or the reader, can be found in The sand-man, a 23 Radio broadcast, Culture Matin, , with Jean Marigny.
Freud analyzed it and theorized that castration of the eyes is linked with guilt. Thus, castration can be mental: it suggests then a feeling of culpability. Moreover, Lacan linked the look and the voyeur. When a subject desires an object, s he can be intercepted by another look which sees the subject as a desiring one. Then, Carmilla is reduced to what she is in reality: a vampire and not a lover.
Carmilla is then castrated and brought down to nothingness by the intercepting look. This ghost is a typical character of the Gothic. It represents the law, which intervenes when the story comes to a climax. Levy argues that the ghost incarnates the subconscious After the ghost intervenes, Laura plunges back into reality and sees for the first time that Carmilla is nothing but a vampire who sucks her blood. Thus, two sorts of castration operate: a castration of the eyes which protects perversions, and also a castration representing the law and intervening against these perversions.
Still, Carmilla is a vampire with typical characteristics, which makes the analysis more complex. For instance, when one talks about homosexuality and sapphism between Laura and Carmilla, the relationship referred to is not so clear as expected because Carmilla is beyond any sexual definition and that is what we will argue now.
The study of das Unheimlich brought to light the fact that Carmilla is linked with the concept of the double, of repetition. Sex stamps species as mortal because it is synonymous of reproduction, of death.
As a matter of fact, Carmilla transcends sexual boundaries because she cannot be defined sexually speaking. Therefore, she is an immortal vampire because she rebels against death. That is exactly the dimension in which Carmilla moves about: she has no sex and she is beyond death.
She belongs to the imaginary. Carmilla is in fact desire itself. We can suppose that Carmilla is the personification of the sexual drive. That is merely the very definition of the vampire: it is polymorphous it can be a man, a woman or even an animal and its victims are numerous, variable and potential.
Thus Carmilla is desire and this is perhaps the reason why everybody is under the aegis of the vampire, especially Laura.
Laura is certainly the most interesting character because her deliberate pusillanimity prevents her from understanding the source of her orgasms, which is in fact the ultimate sexual object: the vampire.
Thus, Carmilla can be seen as the embodiment of the drive in the dimension of excess. In fact, Carmilla rebels against the symbolic order. As Carmilla sucks blood, she symbolizes a refusal of subjectivity by re-enacting the sucking of the part-object the breast encompasses.
Each penetration is a return to the imaginary and each time, desire is endlessly generated. This desire prevents the vampire from dying. Here is the core of our whole argumentation: Carmilla succeeds in reaching the ultimate target of the unconscious: the womb.
The ambivalence we have already developed before is nothing but the symptoms of this absence. We will try to show to which extent Carmilla embodies a wish to return to the womb. Besides, Carmilla will be connected to a feminist point of view. This assertion inspired by Lacan nevertheless allows her to reach a jouissance beyond the phallus. This jouissance is the fruit of a love 30 Feminine Sexuality, It is experienced by Laura and Carmilla.
Then, we will argue that the unconscious has no room for mortality and no answer to absence.
In fact, the wish to go back to the womb betrays a refusal of the absurdity of existence. When one reads Carmilla, one might think that the plot lies in the fact that Laura is the victim of a vampire.
We may argue that another plot can be deciphered: the absence of the mother. In chapter 3, the first words Carmilla ever utters sum up the core of the text.
In this chapter, she is left by her mother after the accident of the carriage they were travelling in. Where am I? What is this place? Carmilla is obviously lost and her coming to people is an accident.
Moreover, Carmilla is regularly abandoned by her mother.
Thus, Carmilla is left by her mother for unknown reasons. In chapter 11, Spielsdorf gives an account of his meeting with Carmilla who is then Millarca. Thus, Carmilla obviously suffers from the lack of presence and affection her mother refuses her.
Besides, we can assert that all the young girls in the story are orphans. Carmilla is an orphan as well since no father is ever mentioned and because her mother keeps leaving her by some potentials hosts she encounters on her journeys. Thus, Carmilla, Laura and bertha are motherless, mere orphans. Thus, the Uncanny is linked with uterine life before subjectivity. In this respect, the mother is suggested in Carmilla through the gothic setting, through the fantastic, and through the uncanny aspects of the text.
There is a foreclosure of the mother so far as she is both absent and replaced by a fake. The first evidence of this is to be found in chapter 5. This foreclosure is also evoked by the fact that Laura is surrounded by three careful women who likely replace the mother. Indeed, each one possesses one typical quality and because they work tightly together, they form a characteristic mother.
Mme Perrodon is the governess, Mademoiselle de Lafontaine is the teacher and there is also a nursery maid. They respectively represent nourishment, knowledge and care.
Thus, what should be provided by one single mother is compensated by the three of them. These subjects on the wall once again express the lifeless and solitary atmosphere of the castle.
The foreclosure can be seen here as well, since an imitation of real life is suggested. Wether we talk about the three maids, about the painted figures or about the portraits, what we are dealing with is representation re-presentation and remembering re-membering. Someone has been erased, foreclosed, dismembered and replaced: the mother.
She hence has to be re-membered. If the mother has been foreclosed, this clearly explains that a wish to return to the matrix can be psychoanalytically deciphered. First, let us argue that some passages in the text do evoke life in the womb. This description might be seen as a metaphor for the difficulty with which a baby would symbolically see things from the womb, from a liquid environment. A uterine life is probably suggested — Carmilla returns to the matrix, and seems to be plunged into the placenta.
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Carmilla seems to have found her way back to the mother since Laura suspects her to have discovered one of these unconscious paths.
Thus, this psychoanalytical reading leads to the conclusion that the mother has been foreclosed, that Carmilla represents a wish to return to the womb. This throws light on the fact that the very nature of desire is to re-enact the primal sucking even if it is insatiable.
This we shall argue now.
Therefore, human thought has to face absence. It only tries to evade death. To Gillian Beer, horror fiction has to do with immateriality He is neither wholly life, nor wholly death. He is a present absence, an unreal substance.
Thus, on one hand and inside the text, Carmilla desperately fights against the symbolic order to reach back the primitive state of the embryo and, on the other hand and outside the text, the fantastic similarly aims at dissolving and questioning the system we live in.
Carmilla belongs in the field of uncertainty. Moreover, Carmilla keeps being mysterious and hides her identity. This can be assimilated to a refusal of any definition about origins and names, hence a refusal of an insertion into language. Thus, Carmilla is beyond language and beyond knowledge. That is why she is, at the same time, eternal and non-existing. Carmilla dies anyway because she falls in love with Laura. To Lacan, the sacrifice is linked with real love : because she loves Laura, Carmilla gets significance in the eyes of someone else.
She enters subjectivity and heads towards death. This somehow metaphorical approach of Carmilla can be linked with contemporary feminist issues. Family histories in fact especially those of orphans appear to fascinate her. Through the disastrous tale of the child who becomes an orphan and a beggar, she is once more recounting the story of the fall, the expulsion from paradise and the confrontation of hell. Carmilla reflects Eve to a certain extent.
Indeed, they are both outsiders, they cannot live in a world where self assertion is impossible. The monster has no name and has to live in exile, Eve is the symbol of sin because of divine order, and Carmilla has to be stopped because her wish for recession is a vehement rejection of the symbolic order.
Thus, Carmilla might to a certain extent symbolise the woman.
Castration and language have no place for the woman. Where then should we look for the woman? This object is the cause of desire but J. Defined as such, woman is a fantasmatic place; hence, she does not exist.
We have already demonstrated that the mother has been forclosed in Carmilla. That is why one character symbolizes a wish to return to the womb: the vampire. Still, this wish cannot be satisfied since it is refused and rejected by the symbolic order and the subjectivity.He is neither wholly life, nor wholly death.
The women also behave as two lovers would do. A uterine life is probably suggested — Carmilla returns to the matrix, and seems to be plunged into the placenta.
These subjects on the wall once again express the lifeless and solitary atmosphere of the castle. Victor Sage assumes that Radcliffe and Lewis plundered Shakespeare for effects in their novels. Thus, night allows Carmilla to express her real nature: she is a vampire.
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