Carmilla

by

Sheridan Le Fanu

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Carmilla: Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Recalling the experience of her dream, Laura knows that she couldn’t properly convey how terrified she had been. It was not a passing horror, like some nightmares, but a fear that seemed to deepen over time and grow more real. She doesn’t tell her father because she is afraid he will either laugh at her or think that she has been attacked by the illness that has been spreading through the surrounding villages. Madame Perrodon and Mademoiselle De Lafontaine are able to tell that something is wrong, and so Laura confides in them about what happened. Mademoiselle laughs, but Madame Perrodon appears anxious. Mademoiselle comments that the lime tree behind Carmilla’s bedroom is haunted, and Laura tells them not to inform Carmilla of what has happened, for she is even more of a coward than Laura.
While Laura has previously been told by her father that her dreams are not real and not something to be feared, they have very real and lasting effects, which Laura still has not recovered from even as an adult. Her hesitation to confide in her father for fear he would laugh at her is further evidence of his own stubbornness and his failure to see the danger until it’s almost too late. These dreams begin Laura’s transformation, one that impacts her for years to come.
Themes
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Carmilla comes down from her room late in the day, saying that she had been frightened last night, and was certain something terrible would have happened if she hadn’t been protected by her charm. She claims she dreamt that something black surrounded her, and imagined she saw a dark figure in her room that only disappeared when she touched her charm. This convinces Laura to tell her of her own dream, from which she did not use her own charm to protect herself. That night, she pins the charm to her pillow and her sleep is undisturbed.
Carmilla claims that she also experienced frightening dreams, although she seems far less affected than Laura. Her insistence on the effectiveness of the charm seems to suggest some sort of supernatural element, but Carmilla’s rejection of such things contradicts this.
Themes
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Laura relates to Carmilla the effectiveness of the charm, which Carmilla tells her is because dreams are nothing more than the result of a sickness, and not evil spirits as she had once believed. The charm, she insists, is entirely natural and scientific, an antidote to an infection. Laura pretends to agree with her, although she isn’t entirely convinced. 
Carmilla insists that the charms, which seem to have magical properties, are entirely scientific, once again showing her adamant refusal of the non-natural.
Themes
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Laura continues to sleep soundly, although she feels tired and lazy in the morning. She feels that something has changed within her, as she begins to contemplate death in a way that is not entirely undesirable. She embraces these changes, as she imagines she is slowly sinking. She refuses to tell her father she is ill, but Carmilla becomes increasingly devoted to her.
Laura begins to undergo a transformation, one that she will never recover from. Her contemplation of dark thoughts such as death is in stark contrast to the young child who was shielded from such things and barely knew what it felt like to be afraid. The fact that she embraces these changes shows that maturing, and facing the darker realities of the world, is important.
Themes
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Although Laura did not know it at the time, she was in the advanced stages of an incredibly serious illness. Initially, she welcomes the symptoms, beginning to feel strange but pleasant sensations in her sleep along with dreams that she can’t remember but which leave a lasting impression. All she is able to remember of these dreams is the sense of a dark place, and of a deep female voice that made her afraid. She sometimes imagines a hand drawing along her cheek and warm lips kissing her. 
Once again, Laura’s dreams make clear all the desires and longings she is afraid to express, which she both craves and fears. The “sensations” which she feels in these dreams are purposefully erotic, and the appearance of the female voice that frightens her and caresses her is similarly sexual.
Themes
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Three weeks after the beginning of Laura’s illness, the effects begin to take a toll on her appearance as she grows pale and her eyes darken. Her father frequently asks her if she’s ill, but she insists that she’s fine. She doesn’t think it’s the illness affecting the peasants, as their sickness never lasted more than three days. Carmilla too complains about dreams and sensations, but they’re not as worrisome as Laura’s.
Laura continues to hide the truth from her father, afraid that he won’t believe her or that he will laugh at her and convince her that there is a rational explanation. Laura, while she might not want to admit it, is slowly beginning to acknowledge that there might not be a scientific explanation for what is happening to her.
Themes
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
One night, Laura dreams that she hears a sweet female voice which tells her “Your mother warns you to beware of the assassin,” as Carmilla appears bathed in a pool of blood. Laura awakens, fearful that Carmilla has been murdered. She runs out and cries for help, as Madame Perrodon and Mademoiselle De Lafontaine appear, and the three of them knock at Carmilla’s door. When she doesn’t answer, they start to panic and call for servants who force open the lock on her door. The room is entirely undisturbed, but Carmilla has disappeared.
Laura sees Carmilla drenched in a pool of blood, symbolizing the blood that motivates Carmilla and fuels her lust. Although Laura sees this as a warning that Carmilla might be in danger (and perhaps that Carmilla herself is the danger), it can also be read as a sign of Laura’s secret, repressed homosexual attraction and her own secret lust for Carmilla.
Themes
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon