Sheridan Le Fanu

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Blood Symbol Icon

One night Laura imagines that she sees Carmilla “drenched in blood,” which is appropriate, since blood is the physical manifestation of Laura’s anxiety about Carmilla’s dangerous sexuality. In other words, Laura dreams of Carmilla covered in blood because she has worked so hard to repress her attraction to Carmilla, and blood is the symbol of female desire, specifically female homosexual desire. When Carmilla describes her perception of love to Laura, she swears that love must include sacrifices, and that there is “no sacrifice without blood.” Carmilla’s understanding of love is therefore presented as dangerous, which proves true, as her “love” leads to the illness and death of her victims. Baron Vordenburg says that blood “supplies the vigor” of the vampire, and Carmilla feeds off the blood of those to whom she is sexually attracted, simultaneously killing them and sexually satisfying them. Because the blood is evocative of menstruation—of girls becoming women and discovering their own sexuality—blood is the very thing that fuels Carmilla’s illicit desire. In Carmilla’s tomb, Laura’s father, General Spielsdorf, and the Baron find Carmilla’s body in a pool of blood—Carmilla literally needs to bathe herself in the blood of her victims to re-charge, as she draws energy and strength from the young girls she has bitten. Once Carmilla’s head is cut off, a “torrent of blood” flows from her neck. In this moment, Carmilla is finally defeated, not so much because the men have destroyed her body, but more because they have drained it of blood, which is her life force, representing the lust and sexuality that drives her.  

Blood Quotes in Carmilla

The Carmilla quotes below all refer to the symbol of Blood. 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
Chapter 6 Quotes

“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 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:
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Blood Symbol Timeline in Carmilla

The timeline below shows where the symbol Blood appears in Carmilla. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
...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,... (full context)
Chapter 15
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...although she has been dead a hundred and fifty years. The coffin is filled with blood upon which her body floats. They are faced with the unmistakable proof of the vampire,... (full context)