Monday, June 7, 2010

Chapter 22: In Which a Convenient Obstacle Appears

Previously in Varney the Vampire: For a short while, I have a difficult time finding things to make fun of.

At the beginning of Chapter 22 (THE CONSULTATION. -- THE DETERMINATION TO LEAVE THE HALL.), Henry heads "the most seriously reasonable meeting which had been held at Bannerworth Hall on the subject of the much dreaded vampyre." I find this a completely fair assessment, considering how stupidly everyone acted in the first several chapters. It was funny while it lasted, but now that the vampire has been singularly revealed, it seems that most of the characters have rediscovered their capacity for rational responses.

There's a tradeoff, of course, in that they perhaps become too rational, too suddenly. The vampire that was both frightning and wonderfully humanized in Chapter 20 doesn't seem to inspire quite so much fear in the Bannerworths & Friends as it should. They could be discussing a real estate deal, for all that... Oh, wait, they are. Nevermind.

Am I being overly nitpicky and critical? Well, yes. But that's just how I have fun.

...I don't get out much.

Anyway, we learn, in a few rambling, run-on sentences, that getting rid of the vampire isn't quite as easy as selling the house. Most of the family's fortune is drained by the late Bannerworth father's gambling debts. Thankfully, Victorian creditors weren't as vicious as the ones today, and let the family keep the house -- but Henry knows that they can take it away at any time.

So they start discussing what to do about the Vampire Problem and, for the love of God, they still aren't sure that the guy is a vampire!
"Have circumstances really so far pressed upon you," said Charles Holland, "as at length to convince you that this man is really the horrible creature we surmise he may be?"

"Dare we longer doubt it?" cried Henry, in a tone of excitement. "He is the vampyre."

"I'll be hanged if I believe it," said Admiral Bell! "Stuff and nonsense! Vampyre, indeed! Bother the vampyre."
Okay, okay, the Admiral has an excuse. Charles, though, who just got through that whole "is that the vampire? is it really the vampire?" conversation with Flora? What is even going on? This goes back to the whole "whiplash, not tension" problem we've had from the beginning: having the characters go back and forth between "he's a vampire/vampires exist" and "he's not a vampire/vampires don't exist" doesn't make the story scary, or tense, or interesting. It just makes your characters f***ing annoying.

Eventually, Marchdale suggests that if they can't sell the house, maybe they can rent it to Varney. They've just finished deciding to take some time off to think about it when George arrives with Chillingworth. So I guess that last line in Chapter 21 wasn't a throwaway, after all.

Chillingworth reveals that he treated Varney for a bullet wound. He noticed the resemblance to the infamous Bannerworth portrait, but:
"It was all one to me whether he was a vampyre or not, professionally, and however deeply I might feel, personally, interested in the matter, I said nothing to him about it, because, you see, if I had, he would have had a fair opportunity of saying at once, 'Pray, sir, what is that to you?' and I should have been at a loss what to reply."
Even in context, Chillingworth is so calm it's hilarious. He's basically the strawman skeptic of the group, staunch in his disbelief that Varney is a vampire even in the face of solid evidence, without the kind of doubt and turmoil that the other character experience.

Then the chapter ends on this great cliffhanger:
"Then this consultation is over," said Henry, "and we quite understand that to leave the Hall is a matter determined on, and that in a few days a decision shall come as to whether Varney the Vampyre shall be its tenant or not."
Oh, man. I'll be on the edge of my very seat for, I don't know, the five or ten chapters it takes to get to a few days from now.

(Does anyone even read this anymore? I know I haven't been good with my update schedule in the past, but I got better! Anyway, just drop a comment so I know you're listening. I'm having lots of fun on my own but it's always nice to have an audience.)


  1. My internet is down. And I adore your blog. Please continue.

  2. Thank you. It is good to see you back. This month has done wonders for my creativity (if not my general productivity overall), and I will return to a regular schedule after this crazy post-every-day thing is over. I have a bad habit of forgetting to schedule fun things into my life.