Carmilla: the Ultra Fem Vampire Essay

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Is Carmilla an attack to patriarchal kinship? Long before Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series existed and the misogynistic messages present in modern vampire stories were virtually non existent, vampires and women had a hand in hand history throughout literature. Dracula is undoubtably considered to be one of the most famous vampire stories of all time. And while it is the most popular, it certainly is not the first. Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla, is the original vampire story to which Stoker's Dracula serves as a response. Carmilla - the first vampire tale whose protagonist is a powerful female vampire - marks the growing concern surrounding the power of female homosocial and homosexual relationships in the nineteenth century. His creation of a female vampire anticipates the shift toward the end of the century to predominantly female vampires. Carmilla is the vampire tale that most readily defies the established patriarchal systems of kinship and that most provokingly challenges nineteenth century notions of the "contamination of lesbianism" and the female "psychic sponge.” Le Fanu’s Carmilla is a prime example of how fearful men were of the rising surge of powerful females. In many ways, Carmilla can be seen by feminists as a heroine in an antagonist’s role because the story is written by a man. Carmilla sees herself as an aristocratic woman who is free to do as she pleases; she has the wealth and power to do what she wants and move about all the through the country without need of a man. Her victims are women, and Carmilla answers to no man, only to herself. Le Fanu uses the vampire motif to focus on the condition of women's lives during the Victorian era, commenting specifically on the role of women, attitudes towards women, and lesbianism. Le Fanu also uses the figure of the vampire to express the ever looming and imminent presence of homosexuality that

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