Friday, 4 February 2011
Foster makes the point that there are ways of devouring an individual's life spirit other than draining them of their blood. What is more, the non-vampiric predator is often far more lethal precisely because their intentions are not immediately apparent. He calls on a number of texts I have to admit to not having read to support his claim but what came to mind immediately was the passage in Margaret Forster's Keeping the World Away that I quoted a couple of weeks ago where one of the characters says of Gwen John that she drained whoever she was with by the emotional demands she made on them without giving anything back in return. That surely is a sort of vampirism and one that makes me realise that I've actually come across a few blood suckers in disguise myself over the years.
Then there are those characters who assume that everyone is at their beck and call and that the whole world exists simply to do their bidding. My favourite would have to be Jane Austen's Lady Catherine de Burgh who would still be happily draining the life out of all and sundry had she not had the misfortune to run into Miss Elizabeth Bennett.
And there in lies an important distinction. When characters like these meet their Waterloo the outcome is comedy or at least a feeling on the part of the reader of a kind of triumph. When they have their way and we have to watch helplessly while a good person is destroyed as a result of their devilment, when an Iago brings an Othello to his untimely doom, then what we have is tragedy.
Give me a vampire I can recognise every time.