Carmilla

by

Sheridan Le Fanu

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Carmilla: Chapter 3  Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Laura and her companions watch the carriage drive away. The young girl asks where she is and where her mother has gone, and Madame Perrodon reassures her. The girl is glad that no one was hurt, but she cries that her mother has left her. Laura moves to comfort her, but Mademoiselle De Lafontaine advises her not to overwhelm the girl. Meanwhile, Laura’s father sends for a physician.
From the moment they meet, Laura is drawn to the girl and looks to protect and comfort her. She feels a connection towards her and longs for contact.
Themes
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
The girl is brought to her room by servants, and Laura waits in their sitting room. Laura describes the room, which is richly furnished but still feels homely. Madame Perrodon and Mademoiselle De Lafontaine leave the girl to sleep, and upon returning they comment on her extreme beauty. They also reference the strange-looking servants and the hideous woman that had been present in the carriage, watching them but not emerging. They assume the girl will tell them everything once she has recovered, but Laura’s father returns and says he doesn’t think that is the case.  
Laura once more takes note of her surroundings, making a point of the luxury in which she lives. She takes the time to note and remember her material possessions, even breaking off from the main narrative to provide detail. The odd-looking servants and the woman indicate that there is more than meets the eye with regards to the girl they have just taken in, and Laura’s father’s insistence that they will not get any information is further proof of that.
Themes
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
After the others have left, Laura asks her father what he meant by his comment. He tells her that the girl’s mother had informed him her daughter was weak and prone to seizures, but perfectly sane. She also told him her journey was of great importance, and that she would return in three months time. In the meantime, she noted that her daughter would not reveal who they were, or anything about themselves at all. Laura’s father wonders if he has done the right thing in taking in the girl, but Laura is delighted at her new companion and is anxious to speak with her.
Just as Laura’s father withholds information from Laura, their new houseguest withholds information from Laura and her father. Her father is willing to accept this, although he briefly wonders if he should have agreed to watch over the girl, but Laura’s happiness ensures that he doesn’t overly doubt his decision. Again, it is his need to please and protect his daughter that creates the trouble and danger.
Themes
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The doctor doesn’t arrive until one o’clock in the morning, but Laura is so excited she can’t sleep. The doctor reports that the girl has suffered no injuries, and seems perfectly fine. He agrees that it would be fine for Laura to see her, and a servant reports that the girl would very much like to see Laura, as well. Laura enters the girl’s room, noting that it is one of the nicest rooms of the schloss. It contains a somber tapestry depicting Cleopatra, but this is contrasted by gold carving and rich color.
Once more, Laura is distracted from a crucial moment in the narrative by describing the luxurious room in which the girl is staying. The tapestry of Cleopatra, a strong Queen of Ancient Egypt who committed suicide, is a figure of female power but also destruction.
Themes
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Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
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Upon approaching the girl, Laura is shocked to find that she recognizes the girl as the face that she saw as a child in her bed—the one that terrified her so greatly and which she still remembers so vividly. The girl also recognizes Laura, saying that her face has similarly haunted her since she first saw it and she has never forgotten her. Laura feels reassured by the girl’s words and, although she is overcome with shyness, she takes the girl’s hand to comfort her. The girl explains her side of the events, how she awoke one night in an unfamiliar room and heard someone crying. She saw Laura and was struck and drawn in by her beauty, so much so she crawled into bed and put her arms around Laura. They both fell asleep, but she was roused by Laura screaming and, frightened, fell out of bed and awoke again back in her own nursery. Like Laura, she has never forgotten that experience.
Laura’s recognition of the girl as being the visitor from her dreams instantly suggests that there is more to the girl than what she appears to be: a beautiful, innocent young girl abandoned by her mother. Laura's willingness to accept the girl's explanation and to not question the strange nature of their shared dreams is further evidence of her innocence and naivety. Laura’s failure to see the potential danger is part of the innocence that attracts the girl, and it puts Laura at risk. Additionally, Laura does not acknowledge the supernatural possibilities of their dreams, which seems a result of her father’s insistence that the dream was perfectly normal. 
Themes
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Laura relates her own recollection, and the girl wonders if they should be afraid of each other. However, Laura’s beauty reassures her and she instead thinks it is merely a sign that they were meant to be friends. The girl feels drawn towards Laura and wonders if she might have found her first ever friend. Laura admits she feels drawn towards the stranger as well, although this is mixed with feelings of repulsion that she is unable to explain. Although she wrestles with these emotions, her attraction wins out, as she is intrigued and engaged by her new companion.
From their first encounter, the girl expresses intense attraction to and emotion for Laura, commenting on her beauty. She appeals to Laura’s own desire for a friend, as she professes her own loneliness. Laura also begins to feel complex emotions about her new companion, a repulsion that she is unable to explain because she has never experienced such emotions.
Themes
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Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Laura notices that the girl appears tired and she tells the girl that her the doctor thinks she should have a maid sleep in her room, but the girl insists she can only sleep alone. She hugs Laura, and after Laura leaves, she wonders about the fondness the girl has already shown her. She attributes it to the impulsive nature of young people who fall into like and love extremely quickly.
For the first time, Laura wonders about the intense emotions expressed by the girl she barely knows. These emotions, which are unknown to Laura, cause her to for the first time to question things that she doesn’t understand.
Themes
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Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
The next day they meet up again. For the most part Laura is extremely happy with her new companion. She once again praises the girl’s beauty and, now that the initial shock of recognition has worn off, they laugh at the fact that they were once frightened of each other.
Laura’s desire for a friend finally feels satisfied, so much so that she chooses to ignore the odd circumstances surrounding the girl, including the girl’s appearance in Laura’s dream. All seems to have ended well, but it is clear that there is more to this girl than Laura wants to see.
Themes
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon