Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chapter 11: In Which the Blogger Returns After a Long Hiatus

Previously in Varney the Vampire: My posts were a lot closer together. Also, Flora's fiancé has arrived.

Chapter 11 (THE COMMUNICATION TO THE LOVER.--THE HEART'S DESPAIR.) starts off with a sentence worthy of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest:
Consternation is sympathetic, and any one who had looked upon the features of Charles Holland, now that he was seated with Henry Bannerworth, in expectation of a communication which his fears told him was to blast all the dearest and most fondly cherished hopes for ever, would scarcely have recognised in him the same young man who, one short hour before, had knocked so loudly, and so full of joyful hope and expectation, at the door of the hall.
Then Henry asks Charles if he knows anything about vampires. As I've ranted about time and again, the real weakness of the story, at least in these first few chapters, is the constant vacillation between "it's a vampire" and "it can't possibly be a vampire." Not that it would be a terribly convincing story if they believed that it was a vampire right from the start, without a doubt; but by the point in the story where they open the tomb, they should have enough evidence that they're not still arguing that it couldn't be a vampire and patting themselves on the back for being so logical and rational. In any decent horror story these characters are the ones killed first, or at least in the most brutal, I-told-you-so sorts of ways.

The point here is that this scene between Henry and Charles has exactly the right dynamic between doubt and belief, one that has been sorely missed in the story so far. The introduction of a new character, one who hasn't witnessed the previous events, helps a lot. Henry is convinced that it was a vampire that attacked Flora, and tells Charles to flee and protect himself. Charles doesn't want to believe it, but pledges his love and his protection to Flora against whatever evil there might be.

In response to Charles' devotion,
Henry could not speak for emotion for several minutes, and when at length, in a faltering voice, he could utter some words, he said, --
"God of heaven, what happiness is marred by these horrible events? What have we all done to be the victims of such a dreadful act of vengeance?"
I love this passage, for all its usual cliché and overdone dialogue, because it begins to get to the heart of the story's human element: why is this happening to these characters? One can forgive the author, due to the story's format, for not addressing this question earlier; but it's an important one to address now.

Though he isn't certain that it's a vampire, Charles, fueled by youthful impulsiveness and the Power of Love, resolves to catch the vampire. And, unlike the other men, he notes the importance of a night watch plan which doesn't involve Flora being left alone with her elderly mother and a gun. He's probably the smartest male character so far; I can't judge whether he's the most consistent until we've seen him in a few more chapters.

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


  1. Yay! You have returned!!

    I think you are better than myself at discerning genuine emotional moments amid all the overwrit melodrama. I bet bogged down at looking at the plot.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. That was really weird; your comment disappeared for about half an hour, and didn't reappear until I reposted it. Stupid Blogger.

  4. Amelia,
    I really enjoyed this was very thoughtful and well written. I'm attempting a graphic retelling of the story, myself, and it can be a daunting task condencing the dialogue into tweet-like chunks without mangling the intent or character of the author. You can see the first steps here:
    I'll be following your blog with interest!