Critical Analysis of Interview with the Vampire
Charismatic. Charming. Sensual. Beautiful. Would you ever use these adjectives to describe a vampire? The common theme in portraying vampires in literature has always involved depictions of great violence, ugliness, and fear. Novels involving vampires never portrayed the vampire as a heroic character, but rather as the villain who was then destroyed in the end. Stereotypical vampires terrorized towns, lived in grim, dark, towering castles and turned into bats when in trouble. Authors were simply not inspired to build a tale around the life of a vampire, his shortcomings, his doubts, his fears. Rather, authors used the vampire as a metaphor for evil that resides in humanity. Essentially, vampires were the demons inside ourselves that we had to slay.
In the 1970’s, Anne Rice reinvented the vampire genre by publishing Interview with the Vampire. Unlike other vampire novels, Interview was the life account of Louis du Pointe du Lac as an interview conducted throughout the night with a reporter recruited by Louis himself. Louis unlike the common stereotype is not a vicious killer. In fact, his tale is of his struggle to keep his humanity intact, to battle his nature and his thirst for blood. In reminiscing he introduces us to the colorful and vibrant vampire world inhabited by the likes of Lestat, Louis’ creator and lover; and Claudia, a child-vampire created by Louis and Lestat who later becomes Louis’ lover. The threesome becomes an unorthodox family unit, living in splendor and happiness. However, their happiness is not permanent as Claudia matures mentally but is forever stuck in the body of a child.
There is a striking difference between the classic vampire and the vampire’s Anne Rice has created. Unlike previous books, Louis is the tragic hero clashing with his vampire nature and struggling through life like a human. An important part of the novel is Louis’ refusal to kill human to satiate his blood thirst. Giving in to his blood thirst is the equivalent of becoming like the stereotypical vampire. At one point in the novel the vampires Louis and Claudia journey to Eastern Europe on a quest to find others like themselves. Elegant, intelligent, and beautiful, Louis and Claudia are shocked to find that the fabled vampires of Romania are little more than zombies, rotten half-eaten corpses who suffer the fate of being animated. "I had met the European vampire, the creature of the Old World," Louis pronounces as he kills the last of these. "He was dead." (Pg. 322). The previous passage is literally a comparison of monsters.
Around the same time vampire books written by Stephen King and Bram Stoker gained popularity. Salem’s Lot and Dracula featured vampires who resembled, to a remarkable degree, the kind that would repulse Louis. The vampires were of course, the norm. The vampires, although similar to humans and in some way charismatic and clever, one could not see past...