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Analyze and comparethe representation of vampires in Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. (primary focus should be on Carmilla and Dracula, but you can include the “potential” and “fully fledged” vampires—their victims, such as the General’s niece Bertha, Laura, Lucy, and Mina—and Dracula’s sisters-brides). Your analysis might include: 1) the vampires’ roles in the plot, narrative, and structure of these literary works;2) the specific threats and lures these vampires represent and the implications thereof;3) the characteristics these vampires possess (and I mean not only looks—sharp teeth or pale complexion), including their mutability, mobility, desires, sexuality, and emotions (if any), and how these characteristics reflect the dangers and fears of their time. 4) Finally, you might want to analyze whether humans are able to defeat them in the end, and if they are able to, then how (in the case of Carmilla, you might want to think about the ending that virtually “resurrects” Carmilla as Laura’s memory).
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The most obvious way to write a compare–and–contrast essay on Carmilla and
Dracula is to focus on the central vampire figures (i.e. Carmilla vs Dracula). This
does not mean that you cannot bring in other women vampires from Dracula, but
don’t allow this to derail your argument, don’t try to write about every character:
bring in Lucy and/or Dracula’s sisters-brides, or the changing Mina only to illustrate
specific points about the main vampire figures.
Avoid simply retelling the plots. YOU WON’T BE ABLE, WITHOUT RESEARCH, TO
TALK COMPREHENSIBLY OF HOW THE 1870s (“Carmilla’) DIFFER FROM THE
1890s (“Dracula”) TO SPEAK INTELLIGIBLY ABOUT “DIFFERENT TIME PERIODS.”
THEREFORE JUST FOCUS ON SPECIFIC DANGERS AND FEARS THAT THESE
VAMPIRES REPRESENT (related to women and their sexuality being independent
from men and undermining the power of the patriarchy in Carmilla; and to the
infiltration and invasion of a nation, in Dracula and, similarly, of women’s sexuality).
Here are some relevant points to include (and choose RELEVANT quotes (or parts
thereof) for!):
1.
REPRESENTATION OF THESE VAMPS (INCLUDING WOMAN/MAN,
ANIMALISTIC OR HUMAN; THEIR SEXUALITY: homo/hetero/asexual? THEIR
MUTABILITY: what they can change into or how they can transform—e.g. old into
young… etc.).
2. HOW AND TO WHOM HE/SHE IS DANGEROUS (INCLUDING WHO THEY
FEED ON, WHAT THEY DESIRE AND TRY TO ACHIEVE; WHAT THE NATURE
OF THEIR RELATIONSHIPS WITH HUMANS IS).
3.
HOW THIS VAMP MAINTAINS OR UNDERMINES THE ESTABLISHED
ORDER, including patriarchal authority, gender and sexual roles, clear-cut or blurred
dichotomies between categories—good and evil (blurred—Carmilla, definitely
unambiguously evil—Dracula), animal and human, dead and alive … YOU CAN ALSO
TALK ABOUT SEXUALITY: CHASTE WOMEN IN DRACULA BEING
“POLLUTED,” “BRANDED,” BECOMING SEXUAL THROUGH VAMPIRISM—and
here you can, if you wish, bring in other female vampires or the vampirized Mina.
4.
HOW DOES THE NARRATIVE STRUCTURE REFLECT THESE VAMPS’
ROLE IN THE STORY (who gets to tell the story, how it is told, whether the vamp is
represented in the story, whether he/she gets to speak). Who gets hold of the narrative at
the end and how does this allow the humans to kill the vamp? (Here you’ll have some
similarity between the texts, but also difference: Le Fanu’s subversive symbolic
restoration of Carmilla in the last paragraph (still ambiguity left; also we know from the
short inro that Laura dies young. In Dracula—no ambiguity, order restored, Mina
purified, etc.)
Depending on the question that underlies your thesis (for example: why are these
vampires so different?), you’ll formulate your conclusion (in this specific example,
you, hopefully, will find out why—by consistently demonstrating how they are
portrayed—they represent different societal anxieties).
This is the mid-term take-home paper: 5 pages. Due in hard copy in class on
Thursday, April 4. No research is required on the paper, only textual analysis.
However, if you still want to use any external source please use quotation marks
and include reference to the source (either as a foot- or endnote). All quotes from
the texts that you use to illustrate your point should be attributed and referenced AS
SHOWN IN STYLE MANUAL (look at it again, please: author/title, page). If you are
using electronic versions of Dracula rather than the edition we use in class, please
include title and chapter in the reference. If you are using a paperback edition,
please include the edition in the bibliography at the end and put page AND chapter
number in the reference. I as a reader should be able to find and verify quotes. Don’t
use very lengthy quotes. Quotes should be introduced and well integrated into the
body of your essay (SEE ONE–PAGE STYLE MANUAL). Remember that a quote
should be necessary as an illustration of the argument and not used merely to cite a
“fact” from the plot (e.g. “They went on a journey together”—such quotes are not
necessary). Finally, try to construct an argument (basically: what is the idea I want to
prove in this paper? In the end: what transpired as a result of finding these “proofs”?
What are the implications of my findings?), rather than retell the plots.
TOPIC:
Analyze and compare the representation of vampires in Sheridan Le Fanu’s
Carmilla and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. (primary focus should be on Carmilla
and Dracula, but you can include the “potential” and “fully fledged”
vampires—their victims, such as the General’s niece Bertha, Laura, Lucy, and
Mina—and Dracula’s sisters-brides).
Your analysis might include:
1) the vampires’ roles in the plot, narrative, and structure of these literary
works;
2) the specific threats and lures these vampires represent and the
implications thereof;
3) the characteristics these vampires possess (and I mean not only looks—
sharp teeth or pale complexion), including their mutability, mobility, desires,
sexuality, and emotions (if any), and how these characteristics reflect the
dangers and fears of their time.
4) Finally, you might want to analyze whether humans are able to defeat them
in the end, and if they are able to, then how (in the case of Carmilla, you might
want to think about the ending that virtually “resurrects” Carmilla as Laura’s
memory).

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