The Vampire in the House: Femininity, Female Body and Sexual Desire in Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla and Victorian Medical Texts on Hysteria
11 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2020 Last revised: 17 Aug 2020
Date Written: May 12, 2020
The title of this essay, ‘The Vampire in the House’ is borrowed from Tamar Heller’s 1996 article on Hysteria, Female Sexuality, And Female Knowledge In Le Fanu's 'Carmilla' (1872). The title contradicts the idealised catchphrase “angel in the house” with Le Fanu’s embodiment of monstrous female characters that exercise revolutionary agency over their own bodies and sexuality. The main objective of this study is to delineate the relationship between Le Fanu’s Carmilla and Victorian medical texts on hysteria in order to highlight the representation of femininity, the female body and sexual desire (including homosexual desire) during the Victorian era, with relevance to Le Fanu’s demonstration of vampires. Most importantly, this essay delves on the question of whether Carmilla offers a critique to medical ideas about female hysteria or conform to them.
Keywords: Hysteria, Vampiric Literature, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Lesbianism, Queer-Gothic Fiction, Feminism
JEL Classification: Y93
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation