Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chapter 16: In Which Charles and Flora Tempt Fate

Previously in Varney the Vampire: We meet the Admiral, and I abandon the blog.

It's been a while since I caught up on the story. Thankfully, Chapter 16 (THE MEETING OF THE LOVERS IN THE GARDEN. -- AN AFFECTING SCENE. -- THE SUDDEN APPEARANCE OF SIR FRANCIS VARNEY) begins with a friendly recap:
Our readers will recollect that Flora Bannerworth had made an appointment with Charles Holland in the garden of the hall.
As he awaits their meeting, Charles angsts in the most delightfully melodramatic way:
"Shall I," he said, "sink so low in my own estimation, as well as in hers, and in that of all honourable-minded persons, as to desert her now in the hour of affliction? Dare I be so base as actually or virtually to say to her, 'Flora, when your beauty was undimmed by sorrow -- when all around you seemed life and joy, I loved you selfishly for the increased happiness which you might bestow upon me; but now the hand of misfortune presses heavily upon you -- you are not what you were, and I desert you?' Never -- never -- never!"
Even after some time away, I feel I've read enough of Varney the Vampire to adapt my taste to its style. Charles is so silly and over-the-top, and yet in context it actually kind of works. I'm really surprised that no one's adapted a B movie of Varney. (Or maybe they have and I've just missed it?) They could practically cut and paste dialogue directly from JMR's pen.

Aspiring camp horror filmmakers out there, take notice.

Anyway, after JMR pads his word count a bit by describing the plants in the garden and repeating Charles's earlier sentiments a few more times, Flora arrives. Charles proclaims her love for her while she attempts to break up with him on the grounds that she's becoming a vampire. I don't have anything in particular to quote, but the scene as a whole is actually very sweet. It's the kind of scene that makes me want to write cheesy, fluffy Flora/Charles fanfiction despite the fact that no one will read it.

The ending, though, works very hard to ruin the moment. Charles declares that he will not abandon Flora:
"Then let sorrow and misfortune shake their grisly locks in vain," he cried. "Heart to heart -- hand to hand with me, defy them."

He lifted up his arms towards Heaven as he spoke, and at the moment came such a rattling peal of thunder, that the very earth seemed to shake upon its axis.
So Flora takes the thunder as a sign from God that they've made a terrible mistake and fate will punish them, proclaiming once more that she and Charles must never be together. But suddenly, the sun shines on her face, and it's a sign that everything's okay now and they can be together!

The chapter ends in a cliffhanger as the vampire suddenly reappears, so I fully expect Flora to vascillate again between "I love you Charles" and "but we can never be together!", with little thought other than "it must be a sign!" This is not how you write conflict. It's how you give your readers whiplash.

Chapter 17: In Which Varney Never Drinks... Vine

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