Carmilla

by

Sheridan Le Fanu

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Carmilla: Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Laura and her governesses calm down slightly seeing that there is no sign of an attack, and they send the servants away. The three of them search for Carmilla, wondering if she had been frightened or was playing a trick, but she is nowhere to be found. Laura wonders how Carmilla could have escaped her room without unlocking the door. 
Carmilla’s behavior and disappearance seem to defy natural explanation, and neither Laura nor her governesses are able to come up with any sort of logical explanation for what happened.
Themes
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Laura spends the rest of the evening in Madame Perrodon’s room, and the next morning she informs her father of Carmilla’s disappearance. The entire household resumes the search but there is no sign of Carmilla. Laura’s father is distraught, and Laura is also extremely worried, though she feels that her grief is of a different kind. At one o’clock, she finds Carmilla in her room as though nothing has happened. She embraces the girl and notifies the others. 
Laura distinguishes the grief she feels over Carmilla’s disappearance from her father’s, although she doesn’t specify how they are different. This is one of the only times she ever truly comes close to admitting the depth of her feelings for Carmilla, ones which certainly seem to go beyond friendship. While her father is distraught because he has vowed to protect Carmilla, Laura’s grief is about something deeper which she still refuses to properly identify.
Themes
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Carmilla tells Laura what happened to her the previous evening. She had gone to sleep in her own bed and awoke to find herself on the sofa in the dressing room, with the door between the rooms open. Laura’s father, the governesses, and a handful of servants enter the room and are relieved to see that she is alright. She recounts her story, confused as to how any of it is possible.
Even Carmilla, who has been shown to hold a strong belief in natural and logical explanations (presumably in an effort to hide her true supernatural identity), is unable to come up with any sort of excuse to rationalize what has occurred.
Themes
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
After sending the servants away, Laura’s father speculates on what happened. He predicts that Carmilla was sleepwalking, and that she unlocked the door in her sleep and put the key somewhere in the house where it was unlikely to ever be found. She then went into the dressing room where she awoke. He laughs at the innocent and natural explanation for Carmilla’s actions and insists that there is no reason to be alarmed. Turning to Laura, he sighs and says he wishes she were looking more like herself, but they are relieved that Carmilla has been found safe and sound.
Laura’s father once again insists that the scientific explanation is the only possible one, refusing to entertain any contradictions or flaws in his argument. Although his rationale of sleepwalking is weak and full of holes, he does not waver in his determination to believe it. He doesn’t want to alarm either Laura or Carmilla, but in doing so he continues to put his daughter in danger.
Themes
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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