Carmilla

by

Sheridan Le Fanu

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Carmilla: Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In conclusion, having finished re-telling her story, Laura recalls that she still thinks of the events with anxiety. If it had not been for the earnest requests from Doctor Hesselius, she would not have discussed the experience that still terrifies her and causes her to seek out solitude.  
Laura clearly never recovers from the events of her story, even as an adult. She still hesitates to recall her experiences and lives a solitary life, perhaps afraid to get close to people for fear of getting hurt, but also in an effort to avoid the complex emotions that Carmilla inspired within her.
Themes
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
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Laura comments on Baron Vordenburg, who devoted his life to the investigation of the vampire and collected all the books and knowledge on the subject that he could. She mentions in passing that, even today, nobody knows how vampires manage to escape from their graves and then return to them for a few hours without disturbing the coffin. The vampire recharges in the grave, and its waking existence is driven by its lust for blood. Occasionally, the vampire becomes fascinated with one of its victims, displaying feelings that can resemble the passion of love. In these instances, the vampire will patiently wait until it can satisfy its passion and it almost seems to desire sympathy and love. However, in most cases the vampire doesn’t wait to attack—it simply overpowers and kills its victim.
Laura shares her knowledge of the vampire, once again demonstrating her growth and the harsher realities of the world that she has been forced to face, as well as a strong belief in the supernatural. She now understands that Carmilla’s expressions of love and devotion were likely nothing more than a cover for her blood lust. Occasionally, as was the case with Laura, the vampire is able to skillfully deceive their victims and enact a form of courtship, which can masquerade as genuine and honest love. 
Themes
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
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After Carmilla was defeated, Baron Vordenburg stayed with Laura and her father for a few weeks. Laura’s father recounted the story of the Moravian nobleman who had defeated the vampire and asked the Baron how the nobleman knew the location of the Countess’ tomb. The Baron, who reveals himself to be a descendant of the nobleman explains that he found his ancestor’s notes and learned that the nobleman had been Mircalla’s lover before she died young.
That the nobleman who defeated Millarca centuries ago was first her lover shows that Carmilla’s love invites destruction. Indeed, it was Carmilla’s “love” of Bertha and Laura that alerted the men who will defeat her to her vampiric nature. 
Themes
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
The Baron further reveals that vampires come into existence when a person commits suicide, and the people whom they visit also die and become vampires. The nobleman discovered these truths about vampires and vowed to learn more. The nobleman realized that Mircalla, whom he loved, would likely be suspected of being a vampire. Wanting to save her, he pretended to move her remains so that her body would not be examined, and destroyed her monument so her body could not be found. Looking back on his actions years later he was ashamed of himself for protecting Mircalla, and to set things right he made notes that led the Baron to rediscover the tomb years later.
The nobleman eventually realizes that he was blinded by love for Mircalla, which led him to act foolishly in an effort to protect her. Love, in this case (the only example of heterosexual love in the novel), is presented as foolish and naïve. The text seems to suggest, then, that any kind of romantic love inevitably leads to trouble. It is only with distance that the nobleman is able to see the error of his ways and set things right.
Themes
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
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Laura ends her story by saying that after the events with Carmilla, her father took her on a trip around Italy for more than a year to try to heal her. It took Laura a long time to recover from the horror of what had happened, and she never fully did. She still imagines Carmilla, sometimes as the beautiful girl she thought she knew and sometimes as the monster she saw in the church when Carmilla attacked General Spielsdorf. She is still haunted by the memory of the girl, and often imagines she hears Carmilla’s footsteps approaching her door.
Laura ends her story by reinforcing the long-term and lasting impact that Carmilla had on her life. Although Laura’s father tried to “heal” her, she knew that such a thing was not possible. She was forever changed by her friendship with the girl and the feelings she stimulated. The fact that Laura still imagines Carmilla as both a monster and her friend, shows that she continues to wrestle with these conflicting feelings: the desire to express her own sexuality, and the fear of doing so.
Themes
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Related Quotes