(at right: Grimshaw's The Lovers (circa 1870)
2. Why might Carmilla be a story of women terrorizing (or seducing) other women? Men have virtually no role in this story, except as protectors trying desperately (and often, incompetently) to secure their women from harm. Why do you feel a woman is the threatening force in the story, and why doesn’t she attack and kill other men as well?
3. Reflecting on the nature of her illness, Laura writes, “Had I been capable of comprehending my condition, I would have invoked aid and advice on my knees. The narcotic of an unsuspected influence was acting upon me, and my perceptions were benumbed” (283). Note the use of the word “narcotic” here and “benumbed,” both of which conjure up drugs and intoxication. Of course, these words equally apply to the infatuation of being in love (or lust). Can we make a case for her being infatuated (in love?) with Carmilla? Is it simply the result of witchcraft…or did she, at the time, truly want to “die” with her? NOTE: the word “die” which Carmilla uses repeatedly to describe their union was an Elizabethan term for “orgasm.”
4. Why might the vampire be a uniquely Freudian creation? The preponderance of vampires in ancient civilization and folklore suggests that it did exist—that is, it is a cultural memory from our “animistic past” that reflects something real that has been suppressed. What might this be? What is uniquely “uncanny” about the vampire itself, and how might Le Fanu conjure this sense of our shared past in his story?