The Women of the Vampire Chronicles

“Powerful and beautiful and without regret” (Rice, 335). These are the words which Anne Rice uses to describe her vampire characters in her first novel, Interview with the Vampire. While these words were spoken by a man in the novel, I find that these words hold true of Anne Rice's female vampires as well. Many people are saying that The Vampire Chronicles lack strong female characters; however, one must look deeper inside these women to find their strength. It is plain to see that each of Anne Rice's female vampires tries to get what they want by using their own different strengths.

During her vampiric conversion, Gabrielle changes from being an isolated mother and wife in the eighteenth century, to an independent female vagabond. Gabrielle bore seven children, losing four before they reached manhood. She was sequestered in her own home, living only as the stereotypical loving mother and wife, though her dreams included nothing of the sort. She reveals a particular dream in Anne Rice's The Vampire Lestat, when she says, "...I imagine going to the village and up into the inn and taking into my bed any man that came there... and feeling some magnificent triumph in it, some absolute release without the thought about what happens to [my husband] or [my sons], whether they are alive or dead. In that moment I am purely myself. I belong to no one" (Rice 39). This shows what she wanted all along; to be free of the men in her life, since they made her feel alone, and unimportant. Her youngest son, Lestat, who is the main character in The Vampire Chronicles, made her a vampire, shortly after he was made one himself. He speaks of her transformation in The Vampire Lestat, saying, "... She didn't even look disheveled so much as she looked impossible, a woman torn out of time and place, clad only in slippers and dress, no chains on her, free to soar" (164). However, Gabrielle uses her Dark Gift to free herself of her isolation: After she is made a vampire, she cuts her hair and starts wearing men's clothing, as they are more accessible than the 18th century corset. She eventually leaves Lestat in search of solitude. Gabrielle certainly got what she wanted by using her Dark Gift.

Since Claudia is stuck with a 5 year-old’s body for the rest of her life, she uses Louis’ love for her, and Louis’ guilt to get things she wants. Claudia was made by Gabrielle’s son Lestat, and ‘raised’ by Lestat and his fledgling Louis. Claudia lived 65 years in the form of a 5 year old, blond-haired, blue-eyed beauty whom Louis often called his doll. She made Louis and Lestat feel guilty for what they’d done to her at that age. She used that guilt to get Louis to give her a new ‘mother’ in the first book in the Vampire Chronicles, Interview with the Vampire, saying, “You understand nothing. Your evil is that you cannot be evil, and I must suffer for it. I tell you, I will suffer no longer! ... Snatching me from mortal hands like two grim monsters in a nightmare fairy tale, you idle, blind parents! Fathers! Let tears gather in your eyes. You haven’t tears enough for what you’ve done to me. Six more mortal years, seven, eight ... I might have had that shape!” (Rice, 260). Then she argues, “Yes, that shape, I might have known what it was to walk at your side. Monsters! To give me immortality in this hopeless guise, this helpless form!” (262). She used Louis’ guilt to get him to turn against Lestat, saying, “I have no human nature. And no short story of a mother’s corpse and hotel rooms where children learn monstrosity can give me one. ... Your eyes grow cold with fear when I say this to you. Yet I have your tongue. Your passion for the truth. ... I am your vampire self more than you are. And now the sleep of sixty-five years has ended” (117-118). Claudia manipulates Louis into giving her what she wants by using his guilt and his love for her.

Akasha, the Queen of the Damned, uses her Dark Gift, Lestat’s love for her and her position as Queen of the other vampires to get what she wants. Akasha, who was made a vampire 4000 years before Christ, ruled over Egypt along side her King, Enkil. She woke from a slumber 6000 years later to Lestat’s music, falling in love with him, and consequentally killing her king. She awoke with a new goal: to achieve peace on Earth. Akasha felt she could do this by killing the men of the Earth. She revealed this in Queen of the Damned, saying, “I cannot turn this earth into a garden, I cannot create the Eden of human imagination unless I eliminate the males almost completely” (Rice, 365). She attempts to get Lestat to understand her so that he would help her in her quest, by using their love for one another, saying, “...I love you because you are so perfectly what is wrong with all things male. Aggressive, full of hate and recklessness, and endlessly eloquent excuses for violence – you are the essence of maculinity; and there is a gorgeous quality to such purity. But only because it can now be controlled” (369). Akasha is a radical feminist, believing that only women can achieve peace on earth, and that the males must be eliminated for that to happen. She kills many men during this time with her vampiric powers, and eventually turns to the other vampires, expecting them to yield to the will of their queen; however, this does not happen, and Akasha is killed with a curse. Akasha attempted to create her own Eden using her Dark Powers, Lestat’s love for her, and her position as the Queen of the vampires.

All paramours of Lestat, these three women all fight for their needs and their wants, using manipulation and the Dark Gift. Their physical and mental strengths guide them to the paths they want to take to achieve total happiness, or at least to improve their lives. Perhaps one would think twice when criticizing Anne Rice’s female characters, when their strengths and wills get them very far. Was their love the reason for their mental footing, or was it simply their will to survive. In The Vampire Armand, Armand addressed the issue of survival as an immortal saying, “Sweet to think on it, that when we are last weary of all this world there is the rising sun” (Rice, 132)

Lhiadan Raghnall © copyright 2001

Rice, Anne. Inteview with the Vampire. Random House, New York: 1976.

Rice, Anne. Queen of the Damned. Random House, New York: 1988.

Rice, Anne. The Vampire Armand. Random House, New York: 1998.

Rice, Anne. The Vampire Lestat Random House, New York: 1984.