Carmilla

by

Sheridan Le Fanu

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Carmilla: Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As the General is speaking, a strange-looking man enters the chapel. He is tall and dressed in black, wearing a hat and gold spectacles. The General is pleased to see him, introducing him as the Baron Vordenburg. The Baron quickly draws up a floor plan of the chapel and begins measuring distances with the General’s help. Finally, they pull back the ivy on a section of the wall and scrape at it with their canes. With the help of the woodman, they reveal the tomb of the Countess Mircalla.
The introduction of Baron Vordenburg is late in the text, but he plays a very important role in Carmilla’s ultimate downfall and defeat. Like the General Spielsdorf and Laura’s father, he is a middle-class male who ultimately possesses the knowledge necessary to defeat Carmilla and, by extension, her threatening femininity.
Themes
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
The General thanks the Baron for his help, telling him that he has saved the region from the plague of the vampire. Laura’s father speaks to the General and the Baron away from Laura, who guesses that they are discussing her illness. Her father returns, and tells her they are going home and picking up a priest along the way to accompany them back to the schloss.
Even now, Laura’s father still refuses to discuss her illness with her, continuing to try and protect her. This love, while it ultimately saves Laura, is also dangerous and it suggests that Laura’s father has not developed much as a character.
Themes
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
They return home with the priest, and Laura is disappointed to discover that Carmilla is not there nor is there any trace of her. Laura’s father does not explain what happened back at the chapel, and Laura knows he does not intend to. That night, Madame Perrodon and two servants sleep in Laura’s room with her after the priest performs rites. Laura does not understand any of these precautions.
Despite the General’s warning about Carmilla’s true identity, and his comment that Laura will never see Carmilla again, Laura is still upset that her friend is nowhere to be found. She still wants to believe in Carmilla, and still does not understand why she is being protected.
Themes
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
However, everything becomes clear to Laura a few days later. She relates to the reader the myth of the vampire, which—considering the number of reports of vampires in the countryside—is almost impossible to continue to deny. Laura can think of no other way to explain what she has witnessed and experienced other than the existence of the supernatural creature. She now understands the truth about Carmilla: that she is a vampire. 
In recounting to the reader the legend of the vampire and commenting on its undeniable existence, Laura finally accepts and understands the truth about Carmilla, and shows that she has lost much of the ignorance and naivety she possessed as a young girl. Her experiences with Carmilla have transformed her and caused her to grow up in ways both positive and negative. 
Themes
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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The next day, Carmilla’s grave is opened, accompanied by a medical examiner, and Laura’s father and the General both immediately recognize the girl. Her eyes are open and there is life in her body, as she is still breathing faintly although she has been dead a hundred and fifty years. The coffin is filled with blood upon which her body floats. They are faced with the unmistakable proof of the vampire, and they drive a sharp stake through her heart. They then cut off her head, from which a stream of blood flows. The body is then burned and thrown into the river, successfully ridding the area of vampires. Although Laura herself was not present for any of this, she summarizes the events from what she heard from those who were there.
In the end, Carmilla can only be defeated by men, and specifically men of the middle class. This shows that, although the text has presented female sexuality through Carmilla, ultimately she can’t overcome the patriarchal values represented by Laura’s father, General Spielsdorf, and Baron Vordenburg. In ridding Carmilla’s body of blood, they deprive her of her of the very thing that drove her, and by extension her lust. In addition, the middle class defeat the aristocracy, showing the new and growing power of the emerging middle class.
Themes
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Related Quotes