The Vampire and Mortal Nature in Louis’ Character in Anna Rice's Interview with the Vampire

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I.    Introduction

I.1 Background
   In this paper, I’m going to talk about the vampire nature or the vampire characteristic in Anne Rice’ Interview with the Vampire. This topic is attracted to me because the vampire, as a fantastical creature, appear as the characters in Rice’ novel.  Especially, the character of Louis who makes me feel respect to vampire character. The vampire instincts which are in Louis’, actually, are quite different from other vampires which appear in the novel, for example Lestat. Louis still has morality of being vampire. He still has human nature inside, he also the religious one. But Louis vampire nature also appears in contrast with the mortal nature. That’s why Louis character is different from other vampire. In my previous reflection, I’d told that I like the character of Louis, who was actually feminine character in the novel. For those reason, I take this topic for my final assignment.

I.2. History of Vampire
According to Encarta, Vampire, in folklore, a corpse that rises from the grave during the night, often in the form of a bat, and, for nourishment, sucks the blood of sleeping humans. [1] The word Vampire first appeared in English from 1734, in a travelogue titled Travels of Three English Gentlemen published in the Harleian Miscellany in 1745.  Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person.[2]  Horst, Schriften and Hypothesen about Vampire, (Zauberbibliothek, III) defines a Vampire as “a dead body which continues to live in the grave; which it leaves, however, by night, for the purpose of sucking blood of the living, whereby it is nourished and preserved in good condition, instead of becoming decomposed like other dead bodies.”[3] It means that vampire is a mythological creature which has special gifts of being vampire doesn’t same as other dead bodies which uncanny like zombie.
Many writers have their own definition and imagination about vampire. Among of them also have different characteristic, life, and instinct of vampire being. In some cultures also have the different histories and forms of vampire. As what Wikipedia said, vampire is a mythological being, so it has different culture in some countries which have mythological story of vampire. But generally, vampire beings in the whole world have similar description, they are the blood sucker, whether human or animal blood, live immortality, afraid of sunlight, out and hunting at night, has pale skin, and many more.

I.3. Vampire Characteristic
In Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, Rice describes her vampires’ characters in various.  However, she includes gender identity to her vampires’ character. For example, Louis is the feminine character and Lestat is the masculine one. It‘s illustrated from the description of the character. Lestat has much power than Louis, because he’s the one who made Louis to be vampire. Also with Rice’s, other fantastic and gothic writers has own description about their vampire being, characteristic, and physicality. In this below, I want to show some mental and physicality which have been categorized generally.
Physical characteristics:
·         Pale skin
·         Sensitivity to sunlight physically (i.e., sunburn easily) and/or visually
·         Visual sensitivity to any light source
·         Better night vision than day vision
·         Eye color changing with mood or for no apparent reason
·         Heightened senses
·         Unaccounted-for strength (i.e., stronger than one should be without working   out) and quick reflexes
·         Often feels hungry and/or thirsty despite an adequate food diet
·         Extreme cravings for certain types of food or extreme cravings that can not be satisfied with food
·         Often feel run down, fatigued, tired despite an adequate food diet and activity level
·         Frequent headaches for no apparent reason
·         Does not require very much sleep
·         Able to heal quicker than others
Mental characteristics:
·         Strong-willed; independent nature; confident
·         Intellectual/highly intelligent
·         Well-learned/educated, although not necessarily school-educated
·         Predatory nature
·         Dark nature
·         Prefers nighttime over daytime; i.e., nocturnal nature
·         Moodiness/mood swings/quick-tempered
·         Mental and/or personality disorders (diagnosed by a medical doctor)
Psychic abilities and metaphysical characteristics:
·         Empathy
·         Telepathy
·         Mind reading
·         See and read auras
·         Extra-sensory perception (ESP)
·         Clairaudience, being able to mentally hear things from a distance
·         Clairvoyance, being able to mentally see things from a distance
·         Clairsentience, having knowledge that one can not explain
·         Audiovoyance, being able to see and/or hear spirits and possibly communicate with them
·         Telekinesis
·         Pyrokinesis
·         Astral travel/astral projection
·         Psychometry
·         Invisibility, although not as in the Invisible Man kind of invisibility; the kind of invisibility where one can blend into a setting, room and/or crowd, and not be noticed by anyone looking for them.
·         Precognition/visions
·         Past-life memories, especially vampiric past-life memories
·         Immortal soul and a belief in reincarnation
·         Experience déjà vu quite frequently
·         Able to sense other vampires (often referred to as "vamp radar")
·         Involved in "alternative" religions (such as pagan, Wiccan, satanic, etc.) or have "alternative" spiritual beliefs
·         Most are either born vampires or experience an awakening to their vampiric nature later in life, usually in their teen years but it can happen later in life
( accessed on Tuesday, December 28th 2010: 23.01)  
Anne Rice describes her vampires’ unique characteristic, mental, and also physicality. Not all of the above mentioned, including in Rice’s vampires. She just adds some specialties in her vampires such as empathy, past-life memories and so on as mortal nature which appears in some vampires. In my opinion, vampire nature is the gift for vampire being to exist or to survive in the world. Vampire nature is similar with vampire instincts, physic, and mental.  In this paper, I make a restriction for the characteristics in Interview with the Vampire for the vampire nature and also mortal nature in Louis’ character.

II.   Discussion
The vampire was utterly white and smooth, as if he were sculpted from bleached bone, and his face was as seemingly inanimate as a statue, except for two brilliant green eyes that looked down at the boy intently like flames in a skull. But then the vampire smiled almost wistfully, and the smooth white substance of his face moved with the infinitely flexible but minimal lines of a cartoon.[4]
       The paragraph above shows the description of vampire Louis. Rice describes his vampire physicality as pale-skinned, brilliant-eyed, but also the expression of wistful appeared on his face. Vampire is an elegant fantastical creature which has long long life or as immortal creature. Vampire is a living corpse which in his face describes like inanimate statue it implies the experiences of his life through the lines of his furrow face. His brilliant green eyes make him more elegant as fantastical creature. Rice places the description of his main character vampire in the beginning of the book. It makes the readers easily to imagine of vampire Louis. Vampire Louis’ characteristic, actually, doesn’t appear yet in the beginning of the book. But we may find more about Louis’ in the style of his conversation with the boy.
       I also include Louis’ religiousness in this discussion, since Louis is a vampire. He can’t easily let his mortal life. His mortal characteristic influenced his immortal life so much, that’s why he is different with other vampires.
       I was Catholic; I believed in saints. I lit tapers before their marble statues in churches; I knew their pictures, their symbols, their names. (p11)

       In those sentences, Louis described as a religious before becoming vampire. Because of his religiousness, it affected on his vampire life. How he feels still as a mortal, who couldn’t kill human and drink human blood. Those also will indicate that vampire isn’t afraid with the symbol of Catholic. In the interview with the boy, Louis tells of his vampire nature:
               Oh, the rumor about crosses!” the vampire laughed. “You refer to our being afraid of crosses?”
               “Unable to look on them, I thought,” said the boy.
“Nonsense, my friend, sheer nonsense. I can look on anything I like. And I rather like looking on crucifixes in particular.”
               “The story about stakes through the heart,” said the boy, his cheeks coloring slightly.
               “The same,” said the vampire, “Bull-shit,” he said, carefully articulating both syllables, so that the boy
smiled. (p27)

From the conversations above, we may assume that the vampires in Anne Rice’s book aren’t afraid to the Catholic symbols, because Rice makes her character religious. So, it doesn’t make sense if the vampire is religious, but he is afraid of Catholic symbols like cross. Another Louis’ religiousness is also appeared in the middle of the book after Lestat being killed by Claudia.

“I was sitting still in the Saturday night cathedral… I looked up now and saw a gray-haired priest. ‘You wish to go to confession?’ he asked. ‘I was about to lock up the church.’
“And then I said it, lifting my hand to make the Sign of the Cross. ‘Bless me, father, for I have sinned, sinned so often and so long I do not know how to change, nor how to confess before God what I’ve done’ (p160-161)

In this part, Louis came to the church to calm down himself after Lestat being killed. His mortal
and immortal mental appeared. He actually believed and disbelieved in God. In next text, he showed his experience of asking about God’s existence (p 162). After that, his vampire nature, his killer instinct appeared:

“… And then I grabbed him on the very steps to Communion rail and pulled him down to face me there and sank my teeth into his neck.” (p162)

Louis’ emotion had made his vampire killing instinct rises, and then he killed the priest without
thinking twice. It’s natural in vampire beings, when vampire gets emotional, his vampire nature will appear soon. Especially, his body was much closed with his victim. His killer instinct arises when he needs feeding.The vampire nature which is in Louis also arose when Louis found Claudia alone in a house beside a dead body.
“I had bent down and driven hard into her soft, small neck and hearing her tiny cry, whispered even as I felt the hot blood on my lips… For four years I had not savored a human; for four years I hadn’t really known; and now I heard her heart of in that terrible rhythm, and such a heart – not the heart of a man and an animal, but the rapid, tenacious hart, of the child, beating harder and harder, refusing to die, beating like tiny fists boating on a door, crying,… I think I rose to my feet still locked to her, the heart pulling my heart faster with no hope of cease, the rich blood rushing so fast for me….” (p83)

Even though, Louis tried not to drink a human blood, but he couldn’t keep himself from his
vampire instinct. The vampire could feel the human bloodstream flow swiftly inside the human body.
“You must understand that by now I was burning with physical need to drink. I could not have made it through another day without feeding. But there were two alternatives: rat abounded in the streets and somewhere very near a dog was howling hopelessly” (p82)
However, Louis had two alternatives in feeding, drink rats’ blood or dog. It means he drank
animal blood which is less satisfaction for a vampire. But he had explained :

“That the death of an animal yielded such pleasure and experience to me that I only begun to understand it, and wished to save the experience of human death for my mature understanding. “(p80)

       Different from Louis, Lestat who made Louis, he had his own lifestyle to be vampire. Lestat is the teacher for Louis, that’s why Louis can’t escape from him, because Louis needs him. Louis was afraid if he didn’t know essential secrets as vampire which Lestat might know (p71). Louis wanted to escape from Lestat, he also thought that he might wish for die (p79). Because for Louis, killing an animal is such a pleasure rather than killing a human. His mortal is still showed in his vampire nature. That’s why, Lestat who taught him killing was mad of Louis.

“’Louis! You are in love with your mortal nature! You chase after the phantoms of your former self… And in your romance with mortal life, you’re dead to your vampire nature!’ (p90)
              Kill them swiftly if you will but do it! Learn that you’re a killer!’ (p93)
‘When I gave you that first kill, I thought you would hunger for the next and the next, that you would go to each human life as if it to a full cup, the way I had. But you didn’t. And all this time I suppose I kept from straightening you out because you were best weaker… But you’re weak, Louis. You’re a mark. For vampires and now for humans alike.’” (p94)
  Those are few words from Lestat that being mad of Louis mortal nature. Because, Lestat took Louis to be his companion was for being strong vampire companion. But Louis didn’t become for what Lestat wished for. Although at first, Louis wanted to be free from Lestat, actually he needed him especially after Lestat being killed by Claudia. This Louis’ longing of Lestat might appear as both mortal nature and vampire nature which is longing for companion.
“I wanted to forget him, yet it seemed I thought of him always. It was as if the empty nights were made for thinking of him. I found myself so vividly aware of him it was as if he had only just left the room and the ring of his voice were still there… I wanted him alive! In the dark nights of eastern Europe, Lestat was the only vampire I’d found.” (p213)

       Another Louis mortal nature appears when he was in Theatre des Vampires. Louis came with Claudia after being invited by a vampire. He saw a girl in theater which was actually a human surrounded by vampires, but it seemed like true theater. Louis could feel the girl pain in the stage who was killed by the vampires.
       “I felt my spirit contract in fear for her, and in longing. Her beauty was heartbreaking” (p237)
“I could hardly bear it, the sight of her yearning towards him, seeing her dying now, under the vampire’s power. I wanted to cry out to her, to break her swoon. And I wanted her.” (p238)
“I felt weak, dazed, hunger rising in me, knotting my heart, my veins.” (p238)

Louis could feel the girl suffered at the stage, he wanted to help her, but he couldn’t. His
empathy for the girl couldn’t be explained as mortal nature. But he also could feel her blood which rising his hunger as vampire nature. When his mortal nature appears, his vampire nature also appears, in which he can feel the blood veins from the girl, although he also feel sad about the girl.

III.    Conclusion
Vampire is a mythological creature which has many specification in its characteristic.
Generally, vampire drinks blood whether human or animal blood. Vampire describes has pale skin, exotic eyes, cold body temperatur, dark creature, and many more. In many countries, vampire has own specification which different among the cultures.
In Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, she also has own specification about vampire which
she describes it in her gothic novels. She also has different way how to make human become vampire. This novel is an introduction of vampire; she makes her unique vampires characters which she describes in the protagonist character, Louis.
Louis has two natural characters, mortal nature and vampire nature. Mortal nature affects Louis life after becoming a vampire. Mortal nature is one of Louis characters before becoming a vampire. Louis who is religious affects on his vampire nature. Mortal nature can’t be separated from Louis because it affects him how to be a different vampire among the others. Louis’ also has different vampire nature which has explained above especially with his companion, Lestat. Louis and Lestat are very different in character. Louis’ vampire nature is not strong as Lestat. Louis drinks from animal blood, because he is hate to kill human every time. Different with Louis, Lestat enjoys himself as vampire with his own lifestyle and culture of killing. Lestat who made Louis, can’t stand for Louis’ mortal nature that makes Louis becomes weak vampire.  
Louis’ mortal nature makes him become a altruistical vampire, a weak vampire, and religious vampire. His belief in God confused him when he can’t stand any longer to kill human. However, his religiousness makes him seem confused about the existence of God. On the other hand, his vampire nature appears as he can’t be elusory of human blood, like he’s done to the priest and Claudia. His mortal and vampire nature are important to him to exist in the world. However, mortal nature doesn’t always in contrast with vampire nature. They also appear with the same way, as Louis feel longing of Lestat. His mortal nature goes along his vampire nature. It is fact that Louis is longing for Lestat is a mortal nature, and on the other side that he is need companion in his life is a vampire nature, since Lestat is the one who made him. So, I think, every vampire has own mortal nature beside its vampire nature, since they are previously human beings, they will have mortal nature beside their vampire nature.

Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire (London: Warner Books, 1976).
Vampire." Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008. (accessed on Tuesday, December, 28 2010, 22.16)
Summers, M. U. http books google com books id fpaCCyGuMqwC. The Vampire, His Kith and Kin. University Books, 1960. (accessed on Tuesday, December 28th 2010: 23.01)

[1] Vampire." Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008.
[2] (accessed on Tuesday, December, 28 2010, 22.16)
[3] Summers, M. U. http books google com books id fpaCCyGuMqwC. The Vampire, His Kith and Kin. University Books, 1960.
[4] Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire (London: Warner Books, 1976).p6