When Lestat seduces then kills the two whores in the hotel room, he delights in sexual cruelty. This is displayed in Louis narrative describing Lestat as both: ‘masterfully clever and utterly vicious…, he drank his fill without the other woman even knowing’ (Rice p.89) and ‘he played with his victims, made friends with them, seduced them into trusting and liking him, even loving him’ (Rice p141). Lestat clearly plays with his victims when he invokes sexual competition from the second woman as she says: ‘I can warm that cold skin of yours better than she can’ (Rice p.87) Lestat shows he is the master of mockery combined with sadism. My argument here is focused on sadism defined as ‘male with a low sense of self-worth since childhood, trying to prove importance and superiority by punishing others’.Order now
As far as we know, Lestat has had no life-choices, either in his education or in becoming immortal, as both decisions were taken without consent. Therefore, Lestat’s indulgence in sadistic sexual pleasure can be credited to an indiscriminate motive of revenge. But Lestat has no conception of his sadistic nature and so does not appear to manifest any sense of rationality since he says to Louis: ‘I like to do it…I enjoy it’ (Rice p.93) without explaining. As Michel Foucault says of sadism: ‘In Sade, sex is without any norm or intrinsic rule that might be formulated from its own nature: but it is subject to the unrestricted law of power which itself knows no other law but its own’ (Foucault p.149).
However, Louis does offer some reasoning for Lestat’s senseless carnage of the young or attractive in: ‘You see they represented the greatest loss to Lestat, because they stood on the threshold of the maximum possibility of life’ (Rice p.47) Lestat’s rationale in killing the two beautiful whores, the young, rich Freniere and dooming a five year old girl to an eternity of childhood is symptomatic of Lestat’s sadistic nature, but in some way related to his past. Consequently, Lestat unconsciously transgresses from conflicts within vampire relationships to avenge his past, and he achieves this through sadistic redress.
The performance at the Theatre des Vampires is where both vampires and humans gather to mutually experience: ‘A highly erotic, somewhat disturbing scene’ (Gelder p.112). The vampires masquerade as vampires. The audience indulge in ‘simulation’ of sexuality and death. The audience believe the performance is a theatrical illusion and are there to be: ‘mesmerised by the performance…titillated’ (Gelder p.112). So I want to argue here that the relationship between sexuality and cruelty works on a number of levels as both the vampires and audience are involved in a type of sexual perversity. For the vampires, the scene represents reality, as killing and drinking human blood is pertinent to vampire nature. In contrast, the audience are an antithesis to human nature in comparison to other mortals in the text, such as Babette, who have shown disdain for vampiric sexual evil.
But further perversity exists, since vampires openly kill a mortal in front of other humans thereby increasing vampire pleasure in killing. Louis attests to vampiric pleasure when he recalls an instinctive sexual longing at the performance: ‘I wanted her. Wanted her. My mouth full of the taste of her, my veins in torment’ (Rice pp242-243). Conversely, it could also be argued that the vampires perform at the Theatre de Vampires to acquire legitimacy for their communal home. So, I also suggest that the theatre provides both a faï¿½ade and sanctuary to enable the vampires from arousing suspicion from mortals. Therefore, these vile heterogeneous gatherings between vampires and mortals have irony but fundamental to the existence of the Parisian vampires.
Earlier in this essay, I argued that conflict is generally located externally or internally within vampire cultures. Yet in the two texts, overtly sexual female vampires are destroyed by threatened males. Examples of internal conflict and female sexuality appear in the text of Interview With The Vampire when Claudia and Madeleine are destroyed. Both Claudia and Madeleine are sexually aggressive, and this is apparent when the female vampires are created. Firstly, Claudia is insatiable in her desire to drink the blood of Lestat: ‘He was trying to push her off, and she wouldn’t let go…she held the wrist to her mouth, a growl coming out of her’ (Rice p.102).
The untamed lust of Claudia is prophetic, signaling superior female sexual power in comparison to Lestat and Louis. Accordingly then, it is natural that the greater sexual potency of Claudia, usurps Lestat in the affections of Louis. As Louis clearly views Claudia as flagrantly sexual: ‘I loved her, must have her, must keep her’ (Rice p. 127) and later ‘I knew I loved her only too well, that the passion for her was as great as the passion for Armand’ (Rice p.277). Then Louis’ view of Claudia shows she is a significant sexual rival to both Lestat and Armand. Madeleine is created by demand, the demand of Claudia. Furthermore, Louis acquiesces to Claudia, to avoid yet another doomed menage-a-trois. Female brutality and sexual craving are visible when Louis makes Madeleine into a vampire, and is comparable to the making of Claudia.
As Louis recalls Madeleine’s insatiable lust was painful: ‘it was cutting me, scoring me, so I all but cried out as it went on and on…’ (Rice p.292). Therefore, a close alliance between the two female vampires must present an enormous risk to the domination of sexuality by male vampires. As a consequence, both Claudia and Madeleine die whilst Louis survives. Furthermore, this is not convincing justice for the death of Lestat, as Madeleine is innocent. Clearly, the vampires are motivated by fear of the potent liaison between Claudia and Madeleine. Furthermore, Louis is rescued from death, because of the homoerotic desire of Armand. A relationship that is now possible, as the two overtly lasciviousness female vampires and their, powerful natures are extinguished. Therefore, in Interview With The Vampire, sexuality and cruelty function principally to sustain male sexual domination and homoerotic relationships.
One of the main points I have argued in this essay, is that power and sexual cruelty prevail through conflict. My assertion in Dracula is that conflict is external to vampire existence, whereas in contrast, internal conflicts exist in Interview With The Vampire. Therefore in conclusion, it is essential to say that although both narratives are told in the first person, the viewpoints in the text are endorsed by use of opposing narrative strategies.
In Dracula the text is narrated by mortals, therefore the reader is greatly influenced by the mortal perspective. Whilst in contrast, the narrative of Interview With The Vampire is recounted from a vampire’s perspective. Accordingly, then, Dracula and Interview With The Vampire, present the reader with a textual biased perspective. The narrators present their own ideologies relating to power and sexual cruelty projecting their own identities and environment.
As Michel Foucault argues: ‘We must conceptualize the deployment of sexuality on the basis of the techniques of power that are contemporary with it (Foucault p.150). Therefore, sexuality and cruelty, operate by reflecting the personal, political and social opinions of their narrators. Consequently, Dracula reflects mortal ethics, in contrast to Interview With The Vampire, which through a single narrative is unmistakably opinionated but applies vampiric reasoning.