The Trickster in Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire
Vampires today, particularly after Anne Rice's five-book series, the Vampire Chronicles, are portrayed in quite a different light than the vampires of ages past. Gone is the garlic and cross that offers protection, gone is the vampire's fear of all light and gone is their distant, in-human nature. (Whyte 2) In fact, most vampires are portrayed as both beast and man, struggling to retain their humanity as the lust for blood seems to never diminish and eternal as they are, their inner conflict spans to infinity. This duplicity is highly reminiscent of the paradoxical nature of the trickster archetype. Tricksters embrace creation just as easily as they revel in destruction, both beautiful and ugly, sometimes heroes and sometimes villains--still, tricksters are never merely good or evil. Although the various incarnations of the trickster archetype in world mythology differ more than they are alike, some elements exist that are common to all. The modern literary vampire may be understood as the embodiment of the trickster archetype. I will base this examination primarily on Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire.
Because tricksters are a cross-culture phenomenon, found in nearly every culture, and in a variety of disguises, trickster research has discovered it is very difficult to pinpoint what exactly makes a trickster what he is. Although it is often readily apparent that a trickster is, in fact, a trickster, supporting this claim is often rather difficult. Thus, few common elements have surfaced, but I feel they are enough to provide sufficient light to the image of the vampire as a trickster in one of his many disguises. To begin with, I must point out that when referring to trickster, I do not mean any sort of corporeal being but rather an idea. Traditional scholarship differentiates any tangible entity that fulfills the trickster criteria as "clown." Trickster research is confusing at this point because it calls tricksters "mythic" entities found in folklore and in legends. Therefore, a trickster is more than just an idea; it may also be a mythic creature. (Kim ix) For the purposes of this essay I will refer to the trickster first as an idea, as a set of elements and then exemplify these characteristics using "mythic" entities as a form of illustration.
Tricksters are usually associated with a host of negative elements such as stubbornness, chicanery, duplicity, cruelty, greed, gluttony, and avarice; (Musinsky) although their unifying elements are selfishness, egoism and self-centeredness. As mentioned before tricksters are amoral, or, to use a Nietzsche's phrase: "beyond good and evil." According to Radini, a well-known trickster scholar, the trickster "possesses no values, moral or social, is at the mercy of his passions and appetites, yet through his actions all values come into being." (xxiii) Almost all tricksters are...