Monday, December 7, 2009

Chapter 12: In Which Charles Remains the Blogger's Favorite Character

Previously in Varney the Vampire: Charles resolves to protect Flora, even if it is a vampire.

In Chapter 12 (CHARLES HOLLAND'S SAD FEELINGS. -- THE PORTRAIT. -- THE OCCURRENCE OF THE NIGHT AT THE HALL.), JMR continues to explore Charles' feelings and develop his character, which continues to be the most consistent and interesting one so far. He paces a bit, worrying about Flora; despite his love for her and his initial doubt regarding vampires, there's a real risk that she'll become a vampire herself.

Within the context of the overdramatic writing style, this scene very emotive, just like the previous chapter. I'm reminded again of the scene where Henry watches over Flora after her attack, one of the few places where JMR seems to get things right. Since Charles arrived he's been getting it right more than not, so there's one more point int Charles' favor.

Of course, every chapter has its share of ridiculousness. Charles sees the portrait of Runnagate Marmaduke Bannerworth and is immediately creeped out. More importantly, he notices that the portrait has been moved recently--I actually love this part about the passage, since there's more substance than "Charles is creeped out because [the readers know that] the man in the portrait is a vampire."

There is this hideously, inexplicably long passage, however, where he explores the portrait:
"Who knows," he said to himself, "what may be behind it? This is an old baronial sort of hall, and the greater portion of it was, no doubt, built at a time when the construction of such places as hidden chambers and intricate staircases were, in all buildings of importance, considered desiderata."
He hears a knock (excuse me, a "demand for admission"; why use five letters when you can use eighteen?) and opens the door, but there seems to be no one there. He hears it again, opens the door, and is greeted by strange noises in the hallway. Then he finds Henry, who heard a door open, and they investigate the mysterious painting together to see what lies behind it.

They find nothing, and, in classic JMR fashion, the resulting dialogue breaks any semblance of suspense that the scene previously held:
"There is no mystery here," said Henry.
"None whatever," said Charles, as he tapped the wall with his knuckles, and found all hard and sound. "We are foiled."
"We are indeed."

"I had a strange presentiment, now," added Charles, "that we should make some discovery that would repay us for our trouble. It appears, however, that such is not to be the case; for you see nothing presents itself to us but the most ordinary appearances."

"I perceive as much; and the panel itself, although of more than ordinary thickness, is, after all, but a bit of planed oak, and apparently fashioned for no other object than to paint the portrait on."
The painting is forgotten, however, when they see the vampire in the window. Charles shoots at it, but it gets away. Marchdale advises Charles to leave, warning that Flora could become a vampire. Marchdale resolves to leave, but Charles refuses, saying that "she [Flora], and she only, can break asunder the tie that binds me to her." We'll see more of them together, but not for a few chapters.

Chapter 13: In Which We Finally Meet the Title Character


  1. Been offline for over a week, hence the lack of comments. But my opinionated musings shall return soon!

    Meanwhile...more! More!

    And Happy Holidays.

  2. I'm alive, I promise! I'm trying to get a whole bunch of work done before Christmas, but I will take a break for Varney soon.

  3. I actually liked when Charles observes the portrait and notices something no one else did, it's like a Proto-Sherlock Holmes.