Sheridan Le Fanu

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Carmilla: Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

 Laura and Carmilla return to the schloss, Carmilla seeming to have returned to her normal self. They are joined by Madame Perrodon and Mademoiselle De Lafontaine to play cards. Laura’s father also joins them. He asks Carmilla if she’s heard from her mother, and she tells him she hasn’t. However, she has been thinking about leaving the schloss to follow after her mother, as she has already caused them too much trouble.
Carmilla continues to deceive both Laura and her father, pretending to be worried about imposing on their hospitality. She easily fools them into thinking she genuinely doesn’t want to cause any more trouble.
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To Laura’s relief, her father insists that he won’t allow Carmilla to leave, as he has promised to take care of her until her mother returns. He wishes to protect her and she thanks him for his hospitality, telling them that she has never been so happy as she has been living with him and Laura.
Laura’s father demonstrates his caring nature, as he not only looks after Laura, but has taken on Carmilla, as well. It is this over-protectiveness that consistently puts his daughter in danger. 
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Laura accompanies Carmilla to her room, and they talk as she prepares for bed. Laura asks if she will ever fully confide in her, but Carmilla doesn’t answer. When pushed, she tells Laura that she is not ready to tell her story yet, as when she does Laura will realize how cruel and selfish Carmilla is. Selfishness and self-interest she remarks, is the true nature of love. Carmilla does tell Laura about a ball she attended when she was younger, and how that night she had been wounded in her breast and nearly died. She calls it the result of a cruel love, and says that love must have sacrifices.
Carmilla bluntly conveys her destructive and dangerous perception of love, an emotion that she does not understand and can’t distinguish from the lust that drives her. She considers love to be cruel and believes that it demands sacrifice. This selfish and harsh view of love suggests that there is a danger to love, although in reality Carmilla can only feel lust and merely masks her blood lust as love.
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Carmilla grows tired, and Laura bids her goodnight. Once she has left, Laura wonders if Carmilla ever says her prayers, as she has never seen her do so and she has never joined in the family prayers. She would have doubted that Carmilla was religious if she hadn’t once revealed that she had been baptized.
Carmilla has consistently demonstrated a rejection of religion and God, instead arguing that everything comes from nature. Still, Laura wonders at Carmilla’s lack of faith, as it is so different from what she is accustomed to.
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Laura returns to her room, where she has adopted Carmilla’s practice of locking her door at night. That night she dreams that she is lying in bed in her room when a sooty-black animal resembling a cat appears. It paces around her room before jumping onto her bed, and Laura feels a stinging pain like two needles digging into her breast. She wakes up, screaming, and sees a female figure standing at the foot of the bed. The figure is wearing a dark loose dress with hair past the shoulders. Laura watches the figure, terrified, as it, without moving, inches closer to the door before exiting the room. Once the figure is gone, Laura is able to breathe, and she thinks it might have been Carmilla playing a trick on her. Upon inspecting the door, however, she finds that it’s still locked. Horrified, she returns to bed and lays there frozen until morning.
This moment marks a turning point in the narrative, and for Laura’s character. The attack is deliberately coded as sexual, as Laura feels the pain digging into her breast and then sees a female figure watching her. As with all of Laura’s dreams, this symbolizes the hidden desires and impulses that Laura has tried to repress within herself, and specifically in her interactions with Carmilla. It is only in these supposed “dreams” that these desires can be expressed, but their real effects show that it is impossible to genuinely hide one’s true desires. 
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