Carmilla

by

Sheridan Le Fanu

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Carmilla Character Analysis

Carmilla, also known as Mircalla and Millarca, is the story’s eponymous antagonist. A vampire from an old aristocratic family, she appears eternally as a beautiful young woman and preys on vulnerable young women to whom she is sexually attracted. Carmilla uses her beauty and youth to deceive those around her, and as a result they often fail to see her true nature until it’s too late. This is the case when Carmilla comes to prey on the protagonist, Laura, by moving into Laura’s family home after a carriage accident. Carmilla grows close to Laura, taking advantage of her loneliness and naivety and making sexual advances on Laura that Laura somewhat reciprocates. However, Laura always feels a mixture of attraction and fear towards Carmilla, as Carmilla will reveal nothing about her past, she has strange reactions to hearing hymns, and she can be uncomfortably affectionate, making Laura wonder how Carmilla can have such strong emotions after only knowing Laura for a short time. Laura’s fear is well-founded, as Carmilla is secretly visiting Laura’s bedroom at night to bite her, which is slowly weakening Laura and would have eventually killed her if General Spielsdorf, the father of one of Carmilla’s previous victims, hadn’t intervened. While there are moments in the book in which it seems as if Carmilla genuinely does love Laura, the erotic nature of her bites makes her love for Laura inseparable from her desire to kill her. In this way, Carmilla represents an ambivalence about the Victorian era’s attitudes towards female sexuality. On the one hand, Carmilla’s vampiric lesbianism implies that female sexuality is dangerous and pathological, but on the other hand, Laura doesn’t wholly reject Carmilla, and she seems even to grow from their experiences together. Carmilla is forever defeated once General Spielsdorf, Laura’s father, and Baron Vordenburg drive a stake through her heart.

Carmilla Quotes in Carmilla

The Carmilla quotes below are all either spoken by Carmilla or refer to Carmilla. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Wildside Press edition of Carmilla published in 2000.
Chapter 1  Quotes

The first occurrence in my existence, which produced a terrible impression upon my mind, which, in fact, never has been effaced, was one of the very earliest incidents of my life which I can recollect….I saw a solemn, but very pretty face looking at me from the side of the bed. It was that of a young lady who was kneeling, with her hands under the coverlet. I looked at her with a kind of pleased wonder, and ceased whimpering. She caressed me with her hands, and lay down beside me on the bed, and drew me towards her….I was now for the first time frightened.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla
Related Symbols: Dreams
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3  Quotes

I saw the very face which had visited me in my childhood at night, which remained so fixed in my memory, and on which I had for so many years often ruminated with horror, when no one suspected of what I was thinking.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

“If you were less pretty I think I should be very afraid of you, but being as you are, and you and I both so young, I feel only that I have made your acquaintance twelve years ago, and have already a right to your intimacy; at all events it does seem as if we were destined, from our earliest childhood, to be friends. I wonder whether you feel as strangely drawn towards me as I do to you…”

Related Characters: Carmilla (speaker), Laura
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

In these mysterious moods I did not like her. I experienced a strange tumultuous excitement that was pleasurable, ever and anon, mingled with a vague sense of fear and disgust. I had no distinct thought about her while such scenes lasted, but I was conscious of a love growing into adoration, and also of abhorrence. This I know is paradox, but I can make no other attempt to explain the feeling.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

Sometimes after an hour of apathy, my strange and beautiful companion would take my hand and hold it with a fond pressure, renewed again and again; blushing softly, gazing in my face with languid and burning eyes, and breathing so fast that her dress rose and fell with the tumultuous respiration. It was like the ardor of a lover; it embarrassed me; it was hateful and yet over-powering; and with gloating eyes she drew me to her…” You are mine, you shall be mine, you and I are one forever.”

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla (speaker)
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

“You pierce my ears,” said Carmilla, almost angrily, and stopping her ears with her tiny fingers. “Besides, how can you tell that your religion and mine are the same; your forms wound me, and I hate funerals. What a fuss! Why you must die—everyone—must die; and all are happier when they do… I don’t trouble my head about peasants.”

Related Characters: Carmilla (speaker), Laura, Young peasant girl
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

“We are in God’s hands: nothing can happen without his permission, and all will end well for those who love him. He is our faithful creator; He has made us all, and will take care of us.”
“Creator? Nature!” said the young lady in answer to my gentle father. “And this disease that invades the country is natural.”

Related Characters: Carmilla (speaker), Laura’s Father (speaker), Laura
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

“And you asked for the picture you think like me, to hang in your room,” she murmured with a sigh, and let her pretty head sink upon my shoulder. “How romantic you are, Carmilla,” I said. “Whenever you tell me your story, it will be made up chiefly of some one great romance.”

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla (speaker)
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

“I have been in love with no one, and never shall,” she whispered, “unless it should be with you.” … I live in you; and you would die for me, I love you so.”

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla (speaker)
Page Number: 45-46
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

“The time is very near when you shall know everything. You will think me cruel, very selfish, but love is always selfish; the more ardent the more selfish. How jealous I am you cannot know. You must come with me, loving me, to death; or else hate me and still come with me, and hating me through death and after. There is no such word as indifference in my apathetic nature.”

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla (speaker)
Page Number: 49-50
Explanation and Analysis:

“Love will have its sacrifices. No sacrifice without blood.”

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla (speaker)
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

“I wish all mysteries were as easily and innocently explained as yours, Carmilla,” he said laughing. “And so we may congratulate ourselves on the certainty that the most natural explanation of the occurrence is the one that involves no drugging, no tampering with locks, no burglars, or poisoners, or witches—nothing that need alarm Carmilla, or anyone else, for our safety.”

Related Characters: Laura’s Father (speaker), Laura, Carmilla
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

“At another time I should have told her to wait a little, until, at least, we knew who they were. But I had not a moment to think in. The two ladies assailed me together, and I must confess the refined and beautiful face of the young lady, about which there was something extremely engaging, as well as the elegance and fire of high birth, determined me; and, quite over-powered, I submitted, and undertook, too easily, the care of the young lady, whom her mother called Millarca.”

Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

Here then, were all the admitted signs and proofs of vampirism. The body, therefore, in accordance with the ancient practice, was raised, and a sharp stake driven through the heart of the vampire, who uttered a piercing shriek at the moment, in all respects such as might escape from a living person in the last agony. Then the head was struck off, and a torrent of blood flowed from the severed neck….and that territory has never since been plagued by the visits of a vampire.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

Its horrible lust for living blood supplies the vigor of its waking existence. The vampire is prone to become fascinated with an engrossing vehemence, resembling the passion of love, by particular persons. In pursuit of these it will exercise inexhaustible patience and stratagem, for access to a particular object may be obstructed in a hundred different ways. It will never desist until it has satiated its passion, and drained the very life of its coveted victims…. In these cases it seems to yearn for something like sympathy and consent.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:

The following Spring my father took me a tour through Italy. We remained away for more than a year. It was long before the terror of recent events subsided; and to this hour the image of Carmilla returns to memory with ambiguous alternations—sometimes the playful, languid, beautiful girl; sometimes the writhing fiend I saw in the ruined church; and often from a reverie I have started, fancying I heard the light step of Carmilla at the drawing room door.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla
Page Number: 107-108
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Carmilla LitChart as a printable PDF.
Carmilla PDF

Carmilla Character Timeline in Carmilla

The timeline below shows where the character Carmilla appears in Carmilla. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2 
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
...she is on a journey of life or death, and that she must leave her daughter behind, as she can’t delay her trip. She has the idea to leave her daughter... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
...father doesn’t notice. They talk for a few minutes, after which the mother approaches her daughter, who is being watched over by Madame Perrodon. She whispers in the girl’s ear, then... (full context)
Chapter 3 
Love and Lust Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 4
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Laura continues to wonder about the nature of the girl, whose name is Carmilla. She describes Carmilla as graceful but extremely slow, with beautiful features, dark eyes, and thick,... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Carmilla occasionally embraces Laura and whispers in her ear, which makes Laura uncomfortable. It arouses within... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
...moments she remembers distinctly and others which she hardly remembers at all. She recalls how Carmilla would sometimes take her hand and gaze at her intensely before kissing her on the... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Laura tries to understand Carmilla’s behavior, wondering if she is insane or perhaps a male suitor in disguise, but she... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
One day, Laura and Carmilla are sitting under the trees when they witness the funeral procession of a young peasant... (full context)
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Laura and Carmilla return home, and Laura thinks about Carmilla’s strange behavior, as it is the first time... (full context)
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Laura’s father returns that evening out of sorts, informing Laura and Carmilla that another young peasant girl has fallen ill, and that her illness resembles that of... (full context)
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
...informs them that he has sent for the doctor for his advice on the illness. Carmilla insists that doctors have never helped her, and that she once suffered from the same... (full context)
Chapter 5
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
...with cases of paintings. After eating dinner, Laura, her father, and the servants (other than Carmilla who sits back apathetically) crowd around as he unpacks the paintings, which are mostly old... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
...the portrait  in wonder, and she asks if she can hang it in her room. Carmilla, meanwhile, does not even acknowledge the portrait, merely smiling at Laura instead. (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
...her father realize that they’re not looking at a portrait of Marcia Karnstein, but of Mircalla, Countess Karnstein. Carmilla reveals that she is descended from the Karnsteins and that there are... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
The two girls depart with their arms around each other’s waists. Carmilla asks Laura if she’s happy that she came to stay with them, and Laura tells... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
This scares Laura, who pushes herself off of Carmilla. Suddenly, Carmilla once more becomes apathetic and asks if she’s been dreaming. Laura tells Carmilla... (full context)
Chapter 6
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
 Laura and Carmilla return to the schloss, Carmilla seeming to have returned to her normal self. They are... (full context)
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
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.... (full context)
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Laura accompanies Carmilla to her room, and they talk as she prepares for bed. Laura asks if she... (full context)
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Carmilla grows tired, and Laura bids her goodnight. Once she has left, Laura wonders if Carmilla... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Chapter 7
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...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,... (full context)
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Carmilla comes down from her room late in the day, saying that she had been frightened... (full context)
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... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
...imagines she is slowly sinking. She refuses to tell her father she is ill, but Carmilla becomes increasingly devoted to her. (full context)
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
Chapter 8
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Carmilla tells Laura what happened to her the previous evening. She had gone to sleep in... (full context)
Love and Lust Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Chapter 9
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Despite her experience, Carmilla refuses to allow an attendant to sleep in her room. The next morning, a doctor—for... (full context)
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...for a moment. Laura’s father requests that the doctor return later that evening to examine Carmilla, who has been exhibiting similar symptoms but to a much lesser degree. The doctor agrees... (full context)
Love and Lust Theme Icon
...will accompany him. He intends to visit a priest who lives near the grounds, and Carmilla and Mademoiselle De Lafontaine will follow behind once Carmilla wakes up. (full context)
Chapter 11
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
...non-aristocrat present, along with Bertha, who wore no mask. She caught the attention of a young masked woman who was dressed magnificently, and was accompanied by an older lady who was also richly... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
...tell him who she was. Meanwhile, the younger girl, to whom her mother referred as Millarca, started up conversation with Bertha. She complimented Bertha, commenting on her beauty and mocking the... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
...she remembered him. He was about to join in conversation with Bertha and the woman’s daughter when her mother returned. (full context)
Chapter 12
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
...in three weeks time and reveal herself. However, in the meantime, she asked that her daughter be allowed to stay with the General and Bertha as she was still weak from... (full context)
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
...She then instructed him not to try to learn anything more about her or her daughter. She kissed her daughter goodbye and then departed. The girl appeared sad to see her... (full context)
Love and Lust Theme Icon
After watching the girl’s mother disappear, they rejoined the party, and Millarca entertained them with stories of the other guests. The party lasted until the morning, and... (full context)
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
...lady who was searching for her and the General Spielsdorf. They were relieved to see Millarca, who told them she had fallen asleep in the housekeeper’s bedroom while searching for them.... (full context)
Chapter 13
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...General continues his story. He says that he quickly began to notice some drawbacks of Millarca living with them. She often complained of fatigue and would not emerge from her room... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
...began to grow ill and weak. She experienced frightening dreams, followed by hallucinations of both Millarca and a large black beast. One night she felt the sensation of cold water against... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
...by cutting off its head. The nobleman then reportedly removed the tomb and body of Mircalla Karnstein, the location of which is now unknown. He then departs, and the General prepares... (full context)
Chapter 14
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
...The General leapt at the creature with his sword, and the creature suddenly transformed into Millarca. He struck her with his sword but she was unaffected and she disappeared. Bertha died... (full context)
Love and Lust Theme Icon
...father enters a chapel while the General dries his tears. Laura is relieved to hear Carmilla and Madame Perrodon, although they don’t appear. Laura contemplates the story she has just heard,... (full context)
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Carmilla enters the chapel. Laura rises to greet her but is interrupted by a cry from... (full context)
Chapter 15
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
They return home with the priest, and Laura is disappointed to discover that Carmilla is not there nor is there any trace of her. Laura’s father does not explain... (full context)
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...experienced other than the existence of the supernatural creature. She now understands the truth about Carmilla: that she is a vampire.  (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
The next day, Carmilla’s grave is opened, accompanied by a medical examiner, and Laura’s father and the General both... (full context)
Chapter 16
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
After Carmilla was defeated, Baron Vordenburg stayed with Laura and her father for a few weeks. Laura’s... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
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... (full context)