Sheridan Le Fanu

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Carmilla can help.

Carmilla: Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

The General continues his story. He says that he quickly began to notice some drawbacks of Millarca living with them. She often complained of fatigue and would not emerge from her room until late in the afternoon. She would also disappear from her room and be seen walking as though in a trance. He had thought perhaps she was sleepwalking, but that did not explain how she left her room without unlocking the door.
The similarities between Millarca and Carmilla become increasingly apparent, making it obvious that the two are the same. The General, unlike Laura’s father, does not accept the scientific explanation of sleep-walking as a reason for her strange behavior.
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
At the same time, Bertha began to grow ill and weak. She experienced frightening dreams, followed by hallucinations of both Millarca and a large black beast. One night she felt the sensation of cold water against her breast and the piercing of needles. In the present, Laura—who is listening intently to the General’s story—is shocked to hear the similarities between Bertha’s symptoms and her own, as well as the resemblance between Millarca and Carmilla.
Bertha similarly experienced strange, sexual sensations and dreams expressing repressed desires. But even in this moment, when Laura realizes the similarities between Carmilla and Millarca, she doesn’t suspect that she is in danger. Her innocence has still not been completely lost, and she still wants to believe in Carmilla.
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
The General’s story is interrupted as the carriage approaches the ruined village of Karnstein. The General comments on the bad nature of the Karnstein family, and points out the chapel. He hears a woodman, whom he hopes to ask for the location of the grave of Mircalla, Countess of Karnstein. Recognizing the name, Laura’s father asks the General if he would like to see the portrait they have of her back at the schloss. The General replies that he has seen the original portrait, and it is what inspired him to explore the chapel. Laura’s father is confused, as the Countess has been dead for years, but the General claims he must enact his vengeance against her. He intends to cut off her head, which only further confuses Laura’s father. 
Laura’s father mentions the portrait of the Countess Mircalla, which General Spielsdorf has already seen. The fact that the portrait was the very thing that led him to suspect Carmilla’s true identity shows that, although Laura used the portrait as a method to control Carmilla, it also served as evidence of her true nature. The portrait represents both sides of Carmilla—that which she hides and the beautiful appearance she puts on.
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Laura, who has grown fatigued, takes a seat as the General calls for the woodman. The woodman is unable to tell them anything useful, but he informs them that there is a ranger of the forest who knows the location of all the monuments of the Karnstein family and offers to go find him. The General asks why the village is so deserted, and the woodman tells them the village was attacked by a vampire. They were only saved by the arrival of a passing nobleman who defeated the vampire by cutting off its head. The nobleman then reportedly removed the tomb and body of Mircalla Karnstein, the location of which is now unknown. He then departs, and the General prepares to finish his story. 
The nobleman is another male character of status and at least moderate wealth, the only type of figure who ultimately possesses the power to destroy the vampires. Neither women nor those of the lower class are shown as having the power or the intelligence with which to do so, which shows an inherent deference to the status quo, despite the story’s explosive homosexual subject matter.
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
Get the entire Carmilla LitChart as a printable PDF.
Carmilla PDF