Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Am Legend Part One

To be honest, I was not at all excited to read this book. I am not a fan of scary movies and though some may not classify I Am Legend as a scary movie, I sure do, and I found it really hard to watch. SO you can imagine my excitement at reading this.
I actually found that I enjoyed Matheson's writing though. It is easy to feel for Neville; his anguish is transferred through the pages very realistically.
I found the novel to be very much less stressful than the movie except for the sexual theme introduced. It was weird, and pretty unnecessary, if you ask me. Maybe Matheson wrote it in to add to Neville's humanity, but I think that his pain is already human enough. The fact that it was introduced on one of the first pages was also a bit much. It was as if Matheson wanted to make sure that the reader knew that Neville was still very much a man. It seemed obvious to me, but I don't know, maybe not to others.
The most obvious difference between the vampires in I Am Legend and the others we have read about is their complete lack of intelligence. Matheson's vampires are mindless, only focused on hunting down Neville. Whereas the other vampires we've read about are refined and interesting. They are able to see beyond their thirst and have interests besides drinking blood. This gives them humanity where Matheson's vampires have none. From this, I believe that Matheson is making a comment on his society's humanity. This book was written soon after World War II and could be a comment on the war's ending. I Am Legend is also an apocolyptic novel, therefore it could be a comment on the atomic bombs and the world ceasing to exist because of them.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dracula Part One

It is obvious that most of the modern conceptions of vampires come from Dracula. With his pale skin and cold hands, he describes my idea of what a vampire is.
Now that we have read a number of these vampire novels, I am starting to gain a further grasp on what a vampire actually is. From the get go, I found that vampires have a a need for interaction (often with humans). This strikes me as interesting because in most situations in the novels we've read, the vampire starts an actual relationship with it's prey. This is no different in Dracula... This proves that not only do vampires have a thirst for blood, but they also have a thirst for connection. Thus proving their humanity, albeit a small amount at times.
Dracula also gives way to the idea that vampires don't eat. This contradicts what i just said about vampires having humanistic tendencies...humans need food and water to survive. Authors display the vampire's uniqueness from humans in that they do not (need food and water to survive). They do have a need though, blood. This can be seen as their "food" however, and that would give even more value to the fact that they DO in fact have aat least a shred of humanity.
Also common among the vampires we've read about and Dracula, is their (seemingly) charming personality. In every account of a vampire, the human prey has noted how engaging and interesting their vampire is. I believe that this is also meant to show their human side. Dracula shows this in how refined he seems.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Carmilla Part 2

I am usually not a fan of literary criticism but I actually really enjoyed Heller's "The Vampire in the House."
Carmilla is very similar to a lot of the works we've read about vampires thus far. We have all the same themes, the most prevalent being obsession and homoeroticism. But Le Fanu switched it up this time a bit by making the vampire female. Along with "The Vampire in the House" I feel like this introduced a whole new set of topics to think about.
While reading "The Vampire in the House" I kept thinking that everything comes back to the Victorian-era male's view on what a female should be. This idea of a "hysteric woman" is not something I am unfamiliar with but this is the first time I've seen it connected with a vampire.
It just seems like these Victorian male intellectuals were so stressed out by the fact that women might know something about sex that they had to label any woman who showed signs of not being completely clueless as an invalid or vampire. "A hysterical girl," Wendell Holmes says, "is a vampire who sucks the blood of healthy people around her." He even gives us an example as to why this is true by saying, "I may add that pretty surely where there is one hysterical girl there will be soon or late two sick women." It just seems so blatantly obvious that since these men couldn't fathom why women might be the least bit unhappy (umm maybe it was because they had almost no rights and were expected to live as their fathers and husbands directed no matter what), they created this idea of a hysteric woman. Heller explains this in the text by saying, "Moreover, as all this male nervousness about voracious women suggests, both the female hysteric and the female vampire embody a relation to desire that nineteenth-century culture finds highly problematic."
Further, in the introduction to "Carmilla", Dr. Hesselius's friend talks about this "mysterious subject." Vampirism is not the only "mysterious subject" he is talking about. The underlying subject in "Carmilla" is that of femininity. "This image of femininity recalls Weir Mitchell's reference to hysteria as 'mysteria,' an emblematic illness for women who have traditionally been the great enigma."
The main theme of "Carmilla" however, may very well be that of lesbianism and its epistemology. Men seem to be very worried that women will know discover sexuality too soon and that they will discover it in the wrong context. It is obvious that Carmilla has some sort of sexual attraction to Laura. Laura recalls that Carmilla would gaze into her eyes, blushing, and breathing fast, "It was like the ardour of a lover; it embarrassed me; it was hateful and yet over-powering; and with gloating eyes she drew me to her, and her hot lips travelled along my cheek in kisses; and she would whisper, almost in sobs, “You are mine, you shall be mine, you and I are one for ever.”
Laura gets that this is not something that two platonic friends do and say to eachother, "What if a boyish lover had found his way into the house, and sought to prosecute his suit in masquerade, with the assistance of a clever old adventuress," she muses. Laura even finds herself feeling the same way about Carmilla, but along with these thoughts come the notion that something is wrong, "I experienced a strange tumultuous excitement that was pleasurable, ever and anon, mingled with a vague sense of fear and disgust. I had no distinct thoughts about her while such scenes lasted, but I was conscious of a love growing into adoration, and also of abhorrence."