An Analysis of the Immortal
Writers are defined by how many copies of their books are sold. The more copies sold equates to a more popular book and thus a great author. If this theory holds true then, Anne Rice is a great author. Her first novel, Interview with the Vampire, sold over five million copies and was a national bestseller. Her second novel, The Vampire Lestat, was also a national bestseller. Her Vampire Chronicle novels have somewhat of a cult following. Anne Rice has turned the horror stories of Bram Stoker into a believable reality. The scary creatures in the Hollywood movies come to life and tell their own tales of life as the undead. These vampires tell a deeper more sensual tale of their mythical existences. This closeness that the reader feels to the Vampires is a great characterization technique that Rice uses to make such a convincing story.
In the first novel, Interview with the Vampire, The story centers around a new vampire named Louis. He is about two hundred years old. He is telling the story of his life to a young man who is recording it. With this approach the reader is able to hear the story of a vampire through his own words which makes the story more convincing and real. Louis is a very troubled vampire. The reader can sense his weak stomach for killing. He is relieved to learn that drinking the blood of animals can also sustain his eternal life. "Do you mean that we can live from animals?" He later realizes that this horrible act is necessary to survival. When traveling by ship, the vampires must live off of rats in order to not cause a panic.
Louis is taught how to be a vampire by his maker. His maker's name is Lestat. Lestat, as describe by Louis is: "A tall fair-skinned man with a mass of blond hair and graceful, almost feline quality to his movements. " Louis describes Lestat as a handsome and regal sense. He describes Lestat's attitude as being selfish and greedy. " But the vampire came back that night. You see, he wanted Pointe du Lac, my plantation. " Lestat took what ever he wanted because he had the power to do so. It is apparent that Lestat has control over Louis because Louis has not been taught everything he needs to know. "'I'll touch it if I like!' he said. 'You don't know, for example, all the ways you can die. And dying now would be such a calamity, wouldn't it?'" Thus Lestat is in command for the time being.
All vampires in Rice's novels are immune to disease and parasites, which are harmful to humans. They do not grow physically older. They also have the ability to move faster than the human eye can see. " I moved forward much too fast for you to see. It was an illusion." They even have the power to float or even fly. " His narrow chest heaved so subtly with his sigh that he seemed to be rising slowly from the floor and then settling again with that same somnambulistic grace." These creatures, no longer human, are doomed to roam the earth, killing innocent people for their life giving blood.
Claudia is a very important subordinate character. She was just a child about nine years old. Louis grew quite fond of her. " She had a voice equal to physical beauty, clear like a little silver bell. It was sensual." Lestat made Claudia a vampire so that she could be his and Louis' daughter of darkness. " She is our daughter. You are going to live with us now." He took pride in Claudia as his young protege. He taught her everything he knows. Louis on the other hand thought of her as his own child and actually loved her. This again displays Lestat's selfishness in contrast to Louis more human selflessness.
The actual setting of the novel moves around from place to place. The main places that are focused on include New Orleans, Louis' plantation in Louisiana, and Paris France. There are many sub settings, which come up and are of importance. The Vampire theatre in Paris is an example of an important sub setting. The remarkable thing about the settings in the novel is Rice's descriptions of these places. Louis experiences his last sunrise and gives a very detailed description of this event.
"My last sunrise," said the vampire. "That morning, I was not yet a vampire. And I saw my last sunrise. I remember it completely; yet I do not think I remember any other sunrise before it. I remember the light came first to the tops of the French windows, paling behind the lace curtains, and then a gleam glowing brighter and brighter in patches among the leaves of the trees. Finally the sun came through the windows themselves and the lace lay in shadows on the stone floor, and all over the form of my sister, who was still sleeping, shadows of lace on the shawl over her shoulders and head. As soon as she was warm, she pushed the shawl away without awakening, and then the sun shone full on her eyes and she tightened her eyelids. Then it was gleaming on the table where she rested her head on her arms, and gleaming, blazing, in the water in the pitcher. And I could feel it on my hands on the counterpane and then on my face. I lay in the bed thinking about all the things the vampire had told me, and then it was that I said good-bye to the sunrise and went out to become a vampire. It wasÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ the last sunrise."
Rice went all out in her description of Louis' last sunrise. This is kind of a turning point in Louis life. It is a realization of the fact that he will never again see the light of day. He relishes in the delight of something that he had always taken for granted. As he says, he doesn't remember the past sunrises, but he vividly remembers his last. This is very important to one of the themes of the novel, it being the choice between life and the eternal life of a vampire. Rice is very talented in her use of descriptive language. Upon Louis' and Claudia's arrival to the Vampire theatre in Paris, Rice describes the seen:
"It was a small chamber we entered, a fire burning in a deep fireplace cut into the stone wall. A bed lay at the other end, fitted into the rock and enclosed with two brass gates. At first I saw these things clearly, and saw the long wall of books opposite the fireplace and the wooden desk that was against it, and the coffin to the other side. But then the room began to waver, and the auburn-haired vampire put his hands on my shoulders and guided me down into a leather chair. The fire was intensely hot against my legs, but this felt good to me, sharp and clear, something to draw me out of this confusion. I sat back, my eyes only half open, and tried to see again what was about me. It was as if that distant bed were a stage and on the linen pillows of the little stage lay that boy, his black hair parted in the middle and curling about his ears, so that he looked now in his dreamy, fevered state like one of those lithe androgynous creatures of a Botticelli painting; and beside him, nestled against him, her tiny white hand stark against his ruddy flesh, lay Claudia, her face buried in his neck."
This was their first introduction to the lives of other vampires. They were welcomed in to the Vampire theatre by Santiago, the auburn-haired vampire, and with a meal. The brilliant use of descriptive language makes the reader feel as though he is right there in the scene witnessing this all take place. The way this scene is described, it makes the room that they are in seem very mysterious and dark. This is important because that is the exact nature of the vampires that dwell there. The main places that the novel takes place, New Orleans and the others, are cities, where people stay out at night. There are a lot of night parties that become delicatessens for the dark appetites of the vampires.
Louis faces a deep internal conflict on a constant basis. He has a very squeamish stomach and has a lot of difficulty killing humans to sustain his life. "I was to watch and to approve; that is, to witness the taking of a human lifeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ This proved with out a doubt the most difficult part for me." This is the basis of his internal conflict. There is also a conflict between Louis and Lestat. Louis thinks that Lestat was a horrible teacher for a new vampire to have. "He persisted, refusing to help me. As I look back on this, I still despise him for it. Not because I was afraid, but becauseÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ he might have calmed me and told me I might watch my death with the same fascination with which I had watched and felt the nightÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Lestat was never the vampire that I am." He resents Lestat for not making his first experiences as a vampire more pleasant.
Claudia had a huge conflict with Lestat. This was mostly because he made her a vampire while she was still a little girl and she would never become a woman. She resented this and wanted to exact revenge on him for it. She said, "I will kill him." She plotted all of the ways that she could kill him and finally came up with a brilliant idea. She gave Lestat a gift of two young boys that were passed out from alcohol, or so Lestat thought. He began to drink their blood when he realized that they were already dead. If the vampires drink the blood of a dead person, it will bring them with the death. Lestat lay on the floor helpless while Claudia stabbed him in the chest with a knife. Blood spewed everywhere and she jumped on his back to drink his blood. Thinking him dead, Louis and Claudia took Lestat's body to the swamp and threw it in. They thought that they were ride of him for good.
Another main conflict was the result of Claudia's attempted murder of Lestat. The vampires of the Theatre found out about this terrible crime against vampires. They killed Claudia and Madeleine for it and placed Louis in a tomb of sorts for the rest of eternity. Armand, the main vampire of the theatre saved Louis from his fate, but could not save Claudia from hers. Louis planned to take revenge on the Vampires of the theatre. "The building was alight. They would be destroyedÃ¢â‚¬Â¦But I promise you, they will all die as you have died, everyone who was closeted there this dawn will die." Louis killed all of the Vampires by setting their theatre on fire right before dawn. They could not find shelter before the sun rose and destroyed them in the same way that they killed Claudia and Madeleine.
Some of the major turning points included: The making of Claudia into a vampire, Claudia trying to kill Lestat, Claudia's death, and Louis revenge on the vampires of the theatre. Claudia's addition to Louis and Lestat's family was a major point, which affected the following parts of the novel. As the reader has seen, Claudia and Louis grow very close. Claudia hates Lestat and Louis resents him as well. This prompts Claudia to kill Lestat, which is yet another major turning point. This murder later leads to the scene at the theatre of the vampires. In this scene as we saw before, Claudia meets her doom. As a direct result of this, Louis kills all of the vampires that were involved. This creates a major change in Louis' attitude. After this episode, he is more apt to kill humans and is not so squeamish about it.
The final climactic event of the novel occurs at the very end of the book. Louis finishes his life story to the reporter and the boy is dissatisfied with the end. "It didn't have to end like that!Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ I don't accept it. If you were to give me that power! The power to see and feel and live forever!Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Give it to me!" The boy creates the final climax by screaming at the vampire to make him one too. Louis stunned by this and grabs the boy in a blind rage. He drinks his blood, but leaves him for dead as opposed to making him a vampire. The story finishes with the boy leaving in the morning. The vampire had gone long ago. He is fatigued but alive.
One of the major themes of the story is the choice to leave the natural world of humanity and become a vampire. This is shown in the many scenes where Louis is forced to kill to survive. With each kill he moves farther from humanity and further into the darkness, where his soul is tortured for the rest of his existence. " And I left New Orleans the next night because the sorrow wasn't leaving meÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ I wanted to be where there was nothing familiar to me. And nothing mattered." The reader can see Louis' pain and almost feel it with him.
This amazing piece of literature is almost an analogy of life as we humans know it. It seems to say that everyone has a dark side. The reporter boy, even after he heard the pain and suffering that the life of darkness caused to Louis and everyone close to him, he still wants to be a part of it. It is in human nature to hunger for power, as we have seen through people like Alexander the great and people like Hitler. Even if they were misguided, they still have the primeval lust for power. They all fall into the adage that power corrupts. This is a sad sociological truth.
The last major theme shown in the book is loyalty. The vampires have a great loyalty towards those of their own kind. If one of them breaks a vampire social norm such as the way Claudia tried to kill Lestat, then they are justly punished no matter what the cause of provocation was. "It is a crime that means death to any vampire who commits it. It is to kill your own kind!" This is exactly what happened when Claudia was disloyal to the vampire kind. Even Louis says later that he had wronged Lestat, thus displaying his loyalty to his maker.
While Interview With the Vampire was a very powerful book, The vampire Lestat tells a story of Lestat's life in another way. The first novel makes the reader think of Lestat as a cold hearted, blood thirsty, killer. In the second novel, the reader is told of a more humane Lestat. Ironically, it is Lestat himself that tells of his softer side. Since the story is told through his own eyes, the reader must decide for himself, the true character of the vampire Lestat.
The story begins with Lestat updating the reader on his present status as a "rock superstar." He eventually flashes back to his childhood and reveals a side of him that we do not yet know. He is different than the rest of his family. Distant from their views and perceptions of what is right and wrong. He is spoiled and at the same time neglected. He constantly wants to be in the spotlight, thus his present day profession as a rock star. Lestat's mother was the one person that he connected with, as a human. She understood him a little better. "I wanted to take her hands, but I knew she'd never allow it. She disliked to be touched. She never put her arms around anyone. And so it was in our glances that we held each other. My eyes filled with tears looking at her." Lestat was quite fond of his mother and so that is why he later makes her a vampire.
Lestat is the sole protagonist of this novel because it is in effect an autobiography of himself. His mother is the main subordinate character. She was very depressed when she was human. "I'll never leave here. I am dying now. I'll live through this spring, and possibly through the summer as well. But I won't survive another winter. I know the pain in my lungs is too bad." She was a rather depressing lady to be around, but she was the only one that Lestat love in his family. "I know how it is, she said to me. You hate them. Because of what you've endured and what they don't know. They haven't the imagination to know what happened to you out there on the mountain." She is the only person in his life that understood where he was coming from.
Lestat hated and resented his brothers and his father. "Ã¢â‚¬Â¦There were times when I felt terrible things. I mean I dream sometimes that I might kill all of them, " I said, "I kill my brothers and my father in the dream. This rage that he feels against his father might account for his treatment of his father in the first novel. He made him cry on several occasions because he was just being mean to him. When Lestat was a human, his father was the provider and he didn't care for Lestat because he was different from his brothers. When Lestat becomes a vampire, his father is blind and so he becomes the provider.
Lestat was very bitter as a vampire because he wasn't really given the choice to become one. His maker, Magnus, didn't give him the choice; he just made him into a vampire. Magnus became a vampire because he woke the king vampire and drank his blood. He was not happy with his life and so he made Lestat a vampire. He wanted Lestat to burn him and scatter his ashes so that he would not survive any longer. Magnus was very powerful and he had many riches. He had a servant that now worked for Lestat. So begins the tale of Lestat's life.
Most of the story takes place in France where Lestat lived as a human. He travels to Cairo Egypt Later in the novel where he finds "Those who must be kept." They are the King and Queen vampires who gave Magnus the dark gift. The remarkable part of the setting is the way in which Rice describes the different places Lestat goes to.
"Empty chambers. Barred windows. The great endless sweep of the night above the battlements. That is all I found above ground. But on the lower floor of the tower, just outside the door to the dungeon stairs, there was a resin torch in the sconce, and a tinderbox in the niche beside it. Tracks in the dust. The lock well oiled and easy to turn when I finally found the right key for itÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Only a vast cool burial chamber with its rusted iron doors open to the stairs, and three giant stone sarcophagi in the center of it. It was very like Magnus' cell above, only much larger. It had the same low curved ceiling, the same crude and gaping fireplace."
Rice paid attention to even the smallest details of each place she described. This is very important because it gives the reader a sense of actually being in the places that Lestat goes. This in turn is important in understanding his viewpoint. If the reader can go where Lestat goes, then the can empathize with him and his decisions. Once the author has accomplished this task, they have created a pleasurable reading environment, where the reader can go away and pretend to be someone else for a change.
The first conflict in the story that the reader comes across is with Lestat and his brothers and father. "'You little bastard,' he said coldly. 'You didn't kill eight wolves!' His face had an ugly disgusted look on it." His brothers resented the fact that their little outcast brother had killed eight wolves and they had nothing to show for it. He was the hero and they thought that they should be the heroes. This conflict doesn't last very long however, he leaves home when he becomes a vampire. The second conflict is Lestat's own inner struggle to deal with various problems that he has. All of the vampires that he makes end up distancing themselves from him. This is a problem because he made them vampires so that they would be closer to him. His mother is included in this. He makes her a vampire and she immediately wants to go use her powers as a vampire by herself. She leaves him often and that bothers him greatly.
Some of the major turning points include his birth into the life of a vampire. "'You are now my heir, as I told you,' he said. 'You'll take possession of this house and all my treasure. But you'll do as I say first.'" This is how Lestat got his start as a vampire. He was shoved into the role by Magnus and given all of Magnus' riches and power. Another turning point in the novel would be when he awakens the queen of the damned. She is the queen vampire and Lestat awakens her by playing the violin. He plans to drink of her blood and become the most powerful vampire alive. This eventually leads to the final climactic moment.
The final climactic moment occurs at the end of the story, when Lestat is inside a coffin. "And then I felt a hand suddenly close on mine. Cold as marble it was, and just about as strong. My eyes snapped open in the darkness. The hand tightened its grip. A great mass of silken hair brushed my face. A cold arm moved across my chest. Oh please, my darling, my beautiful one, please! I wanted to say. But my eyes were closing! My lips wouldn't move. I was losing consciousness. The sun had risen above." In this passage the queen of the damned has joined Lestat in his coffin for the night. This is kind of a cliffhanger ending because the reader doesn't know what the queen does with Lestat.
One of the themes of this novel is basically perception. The story is told through Lestat's eye and the other novel was told through Louis' eye. There is always two sides to every coin and the observer must get both sides before they may pass judgement. The major theme of the novel is the lust for power. This is a big theme, which is seen in many pieces of literature. This happens so often because it is a part of human nature to be greedy. " It was time to go, time to test my powers. " Now that Lestat had the powers of the great Magnus, he was greedy for more power and control. This is why he creates the other vampires, so that he may control them. Lestat doesn't cope with the great power very responsibly. He reacts like any other human would and takes advantage of his power.
This theme of power, corruption, and greed is apparent in such stories as Mac Beth, Oedipus, The Tempest, and many others. In Mac Beth, Mac Beth wants to become king and take over, so he plots an evil scheme to kill the king so that he would have all of the power. In Oedipus, Oedipus' brother tries to take over the kingdom in an attempt to have more power. In the Tempest, Prospero is overthrown by his brother. These are all examples of how power corrupts.
Both books were fun to read. They were long and challenging none the less. I felt like I was with the vampires the whole time and as though I was one of them. That is a little scary, but I was able to empathize with the vampires. I would recommend these books to anyone with a vivid imagination.
"'That's not true. Because if God doesn't exist we are the creatures of highest consciousness in the universe. We alone understand the passage of time and the value of every minute of human life. And what constitutes evil, real evil, is the taking of a single human life. Weather a man would have died tomorrow or the day after or eventuallyÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ it doesn't matter. Because if God does not exist, this lifeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ every second of itÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ is all we have.'
"He sat back, as if for the moment stopped, his large eyes narrowing, then fi on the depths of the fire. This was the first time since he had come for me that he had looked away from me, and I found myself looking at him unwatched. For a long time he sat in this manner and I could all but feel his thoughts, as if they were palpable in the air like smoke. Not read them, you understand, but feel the power of them. It seemed he possessed an aura and even though his face was very young, which I knew meant nothing, he appeared infinitely old, wise. I could not define it, because I could not explain how the youthful lines of his face, how his eyes expressed innocence and this age and experience at the same time.
"He rose now and looked at Claudia, his hands loosely clasped behind his back. Her silence all this time had been understandable to me. These were not her questions, yet she was fascinated with him and was waiting for him and no doubt learning from him all the while that he spoke to me. But I understood something else now as they looked at each other. He had moved to his feet with a body totally at his command, devoid of the habit of human gesture, gesture rooted in necessity, ritual, fluctuation of mind; and his stillness now was unearthly. And she, as I'd never seen before, possessed the same stillness. And they were gazing at each other with a preternatural understanding from which I was simply excluded.
I was something whirling and vibrating to them, as mortals were to me. And I knew when he turned towards me again that he'd come to understand she did not believe or share my concept of evil."
This passage shows Rice's genius in writing. She is able to show the tone of the speaker, and sum up all of his thoughts throughout the story in one page. Her description of the actions is extremely vivid to a point where the simple movement of standing up seems almost magical. Perhaps, as well, Rice, wrote her own personal views on life into the vampire's mouth.
The overall tone of this passage is one of passive understanding. "As they were gazing at each other with a preternatural understanding from which I was simply excluded." With this line, we see that Louis accepts the fact that he is not a part of this bond that is formed between Claudia and Armand. There is also a great admiration in the tone of this passage. With words that praise Armand's ability like: "I could all but feel his thoughts", "His eyes expressed innocence and his age and experience at the same time." And "His stillness now was unearthly." Louis wants to be the vampire that Armand is. He just doesn't know how to get there yet.
As Louis looks at Armand in all of his majesty and Claudia in all of her wonder and amazement, he realizes that they share a kind of bond. The two vampires acknowledge each other's understanding of the other. Claudia recognizes Armands' strength in wisdom while Armand recognizes Claudia's zeal in youth.
Although Claudia and Louis were companions and soul mates, in a sense, they did not share the same views of evil. Claudia had her own thoughts on the matter, which pertain to her status. She may believe that Lestat brought her into the world of darkness, before she was a woman, on a purely evil whim. Louis may believe that evil is in the vampire nature from the very beginning.
What ever the vampires believed to be the truth, they must try to survive by each other. They shared the common bond of a thirst for blood. They are stuck in their quest for blood, for the rest of eternity. Rice really does a superb job in creating a lot of empathy for the vampire's positions. It cannot be easy, being the "children of Satan."