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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Carmilla and Innocence

                In the short novella Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan La Fanu the vampire reigns supreme. It is an interesting twist on the gothic vampire story because in this story the vampire is a young and beautiful girl. To the naked eye she is a young helpless child, who needs someone to help take care of her. This is seen when we are first introduced to her when her carriage tips over in front of the schloss. My child will not have recovered sufficiently to resume her route for who can say how long. I must leave her: I cannot, dare not, delay. “To Laura and her father she seems like a perfect normal young girl, and because of the loneliness of the schloss they decide to take the young girl in, even though they really know nothing about her, and are even told not to ask questions of her.
                I found the story interesting because of the innocence of Carmilla. She doesn’t show the signs of a scary monster; in fact she is the complete opposite. She can live, breathe, and walk among humans as if she is one of them, and no one would ever suspect her.  She uses that innocence to prey on her victims slowly and methodically.  In a way the story reminds me of The Vampyre because she can blend in with humans, but unlike Polodori’s Ruthven who is depicted as mysterious, she is innocence personified.
                The story has an underlying gothic theme of the dual nature of the character. She is evil and destroys life, but at the same time looks and acts like a child, and feeds off the loneliness of Laura. Laura dismisses many of Carmilla’s quirks because she desperately wants someone to be her companion.
                Another interesting note in this story compared to Polodori is that Carmilla could actually love someone. It is shown many times over in the story that she is in love with Laura. “The time is very near when you shall know everything. You will think me cruel, very selfish, but love is always selfish; the more ardent the more selfish. How jealous I am you cannot know. You must come with me, loving me, to death; or else hate me and still come with me. and hating me through death and after. There is no such word as indifference in my apathetic nature.”  Even though Carmilla is an evil creature she can still love another person.  Once again is emphasizes the dual nature of her character. It emphasizes more of her human characteristics. We can see by her love of Laura that she is determined to have her no matter what, and she will take her death to have her all to herself.  In this passage she blatantly admits to Laura she is being selfish with her, even though Laura doesn’t really understand the true meaning of Carmilla’s words.
                Overall this was a very enjoyable novella, and I will admit I did not stop reading until the end of the story. I enjoyed the story very much, though I will admit I really wasn’t sure what to write about for my blog this week. I am hoping that others in the class will help give me a better idea of something to write about for next week. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Awesome Link

     While searching on the internet for a description of daily life in the 19th century I found this wonderful site and I wanted to share it with everyone. There are some very amazing links on this page that helped give me a better idea of what it would have been like to live during this time period.


Bending to the Will of a Man

                In last week’s discussion of the story Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte I broached on the theme of social status and power in the story. For this week I would like to touch on the theme of having no power within the story, mainly focusing on the women of the novel.
                During the late 18th and 19th century in England women were not equal to their male counterparts. In fact women were not considered citizens at all. Take this excerpt from a piece on property rights by Hiam Brinjiki accessed from http://www.umd.umich.edu/casl/hum/eng/classes/434/geweb/PROPERTY.htm
The property rights of women during most of the nineteenth century were dependent upon their marital status. Once women married, their property rights were governed by English common law, which required that the property women took into a marriage, or acquired subsequently, be legally absorbed by their husbands. Furthermore, married women could not make wills or dispose of any property without their husbands' consent. Marital separation, whether initiated by the husband or wife, usually left the women economically destitute, as the law offered them no rights to marital property. Once married, the only legal avenue through which women could reclaim property was widowhood”
                A woman could not hold property on her own, and so her and her  possessions were passed from her father to her husband. The male controlled all aspects of her property including property she held before their marriage. If a woman worked the money she made was not considered hers, but her husband’s as well. A woman could not take her children from the husband, he had legal right to his children over her.
                The powerlessness of women is very prominent within Wuthering Heights. It is seen when Cathy makes her decision to marry Edgar, because his power and status will benefit her. Cathy will live comfortably in wealth and not have to worry about being poor. Since a woman could not make something for herself, she had to choose to marry well in order to survive.
                Another example of the powerlessness of women during this time comes from Isabella. Once she chooses to marry Heathcliff, and realizes what a monster he truly is she cannot get free of him. During this period divorce was not allowed by women. She chooses to flee, however Heathcliff makes it apparent that he could come and get her anytime he pleased, as well as take his child anytime he wanted to.
                Heathcliff uses this power over women many times within the story. He uses it on Catherine to force her into marriage with his son Linton, and then forces her to stay with them at the Heights,  instead of letting her live at her home in the Grange. He also knows that because of her marriage to his son that should his son die her property would pass to him, since Catherine cannot own property or possessions.
                The women in the story are forced into situations that they do not want to be in because they have no true control over their lives. They are controlled by the men in their lives and the decisions they choose to make. 
                For me, living in the 21st century, and being as independent as I am I cannot even begin to fathom how this powerlessness felt. As a woman in the 19th century you had no mind, and no choice. Many times in the story I would become upset at the way Heathcliff was able to bend women to his will because they had no choice.  Because of this power Heathcliff in many ways resembles the gothic vampire. He may not be drink their blood, but he can bend a woman to his own will and wishes, and she is powerless to control her own fate. It is almost the same way Dracula uses his powers of hypnosis over woman to make them bend to his whims.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Social Status and It's Effects in Wuthering Heights

 Good Evening Everyone,

Throughout the story Wuthering Heights many different ideas and themes are presented to the reader. In fact there are so many that you could fill up volumes discussing each of them in detail. For this discussion I have chosen just one theme to dig a little deeper into. I actually have two themes I would like to discuss for this story, however I will hold off on the second one till next week when everyone has read the entire novel. The first theme I would like to discuss is social status.
In England during the early 19th century there were very distinct lines of social status, which could be broken down into three different segments, which included upper class, middle class, and the lower class. Within Emily Bronte’s work we are able to see the view point of all three classes, and the effects of one being within a certain class. The Earnshaw’s could be described as upper middle class. They had servants, and owned land, however were not very wealthy. They did not have new and nice things, and they only had a few servants in the household. The Linton’s on the other hand were very wealthy. They owned lots of land, had many servants, and had the finest things money could buy.
In chapter seven when Cathy returns from her five week stay at the Grange she comes home a changed woman, and this can be depicted in the clothes she is wearing on her return. “…there lighted from a handsome black pony a very dignified person, with brown ringlets falling from the cover of a feathered beaver, and a long cloth habit, which she was obliged to hold up with both hands that she might sail in”(Wuthering, p49). The final class of society depicted within the story is the lower class. The servants, and Heathcliff (prior to his return) are depicted as worthless creatures who are uneducated and dirty.  
In the story Cathy loves Heathcliff, and Edgar, but must make a choice on which one to marry. On the night that Edgar proposes to Cathy, she explains her turmoil to Nelly. Nelly asks her the reasons she loves Edgar and she responds;
Nonsense, I do-that’s sufficient.”
“By no means; you must say why?”
“Well because he is handsome, and pleasant to be with.”
“Bad!” was my commentary.
“And because he loves me.”
“Indifferent coming there.”
“And he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighborhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband.”(Wuthering, p72-73).
From this small conversation we can see that to Cathy having a well to do husband is something that women in her time strived for. She knew this marriage would cause her social status to rise with in society. Cathy does love Edgar, but it is because of what he has, instead of who he is.
The conversation then changes to Heathcliff, as Cathy loves him as well, and in fact by her description of her feelings for him, it is apparent that she loves Heathcliff more than she loves Edgar, however her response to marrying Heathcliff is;
“I’ve no more business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in heaven; and if the wicked man in there had not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn’t have thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him...”(Wuthering, p75)
            In the end the reason she chooses to marry Edgar instead of Heathcliff is because of his social status. Had Heathcliff been rich and well stationed Cathy would have married him instead. If Cathy had chosen to marry Heathcliff the lives of all the characters in the story would have turned out completely different.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lori Yates - Dark Side of the Glass


   This is a song from the TV Show Forever Knight. It was a TV Show about vampire turned cop Nicholas Knight. In the episode "Dying for Fame" he meets a famous musician, and one of her songs Nick relates to.  I have always thought this is a perfect theme song for the vampire.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"The Vampyre" and It's Influence on the Modern Vampire

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     The vampire has long been a belief in many cultures. Stories have been passed down through the ages about these creatures for many thousands of years, through out many different places in the world. There are vampire stories that date back to the times of Classical Greece, Mesopotamia, and even ancient India. In most of these stories the vampire is depicted as an ugly, evil creature that preys on the lives of their previous family members, and fellow villagers. They are seen as wholly dead, and only rise to take the lives of the living and return to their graves. In these stories they do not live among humans, converse with humans, or in any way associate themselves into the human world.

      The short story "The Vampire" by John Polidori is one of the first stories to assimilate the vampire into the human world, and paves the way for our own modern idea of the vampire. In his short story his character Lord Ruthven lives with in society, sleeps in a bed, and is able to mesmerize his human audience. In essence he is even more dangerous than his predecessors since he has the ability to blend into society. Lord Ruthven is still evil and through out the story corrupts young innocent girls for his own pleasure, however he does it under the guise of a normal man. He hides his evil side from the world in order to obtain what he wants. A true predator lying in wait for his next victim. The men and women he meets are fascinated and intrigued by his appearance instead of appalled and it makes their curiosity rise, such as it did to Aubrey, that it attracts people to him, instead of frightening them away.

    The vampire was no longer a mindless creature that haunted you in the middle of the night creep through your windows while you were sleeping. Now the vampire could be in the same room as you, and you wouldn't even know it. They were still evil creatures, but also beautiful, intelligent, and resourceful. Instead of a complete monster, the vampire began to take on a more human persona.

     Once this story was published it paved the way for more vampire authors, including Bram Stoker, who used Polidori's idea of the more human vampire. To this day many of the stories that are published about vampires portray them as more human than monster like. Some even picture the vampire as a hero, a monster with a heart. Instead of the reader being frightened by a monster, they can relate to the character, learn with the character, and fall in love with him.

     So then one may ask which vampire persona is scarier? The vampire monster whose only thought is to destroy and kill, or the vampire human, who can think and act and blend in with the world. At least with a vampire monster you know that it is coming, with a vampire human you would have no idea until it is to late. .

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Just some quick thoughts...

     I'm not sure how well versed in blogging everyone in this class is, I know I am very very new to this type of social networking, and I am slowly figuring out how to work this blog and follow others in the class. I am not sure if this information will be of any help to anyone, but I just wanted to let everyone know that if you own an Android phone there are some awesome apps on the market that can help you manage your blog and your subscriptions.

---Androblogger (this will allow you to post on your blog from your phone, very handy for on the go blogging)

---gReaderpro (this one does cost $3.99, but it allows you to manage your subscriptions and read updates from your phone)

---Kindle for Android (you can download books right to your phone, usually within minutes of purchasing.)

     I don't know if this information will be of any help to anyone, but I thought I would share this information with everyone.