There are many interesting characters and events to evaluate, but none as dynamic as the character created by Anne Rice, in Lestat de Lioncourt. This character is a dark hero for just about everyone who reads any of the Vampire Chronicle books or sees the movies. This dynamic and awe inspiring character just pulls the audience in and refuses to let go. The main reason so many people identify with Lestat is because of three main factors: connection with others, morality, and fear. These are all human traits, and yet this incredibly powerful vampire is influenced by the exact aspects that make a person human and not a monster.
In the first book, Interview with a Vampire (1976), the character of Louis sets up the foundation for a better understanding of Lestat (Rice). He portrays Lestat as a heartless and cruel vampire with no conscience, taking every life that passes by (Roberts, 27; Smith 13; Smith, 26; Smith 58). In the books that follow, Lestat, however, is shown to be not so heartless. In the 70 years that he is with Louis, he teaches Louis the rules or requirements to survive as a human in the human world, even though he is a monster. He does not teach Louis everything, because of Louis fear of what he has chosen to become (Roberts, 43). In the end Louis leaves him, and Lestat is traumatized. His relationship with Louis and Claudia, their daughter, gave him the sense of security he needed, that he never had from his own family or village. It was a last ditch endeavor to take the loneliness away. This was not Lestat’s only relationship as a vampire. He turned his friend Nicolas, but Nicolas was so set on revenge that he could not live as a vampire and threw himself into flames (Smith, 51). Lestat turned his mother, Gabrielle who left him to go into Nature and be free of human constraints (Smith, 51). Throughout his mortal and immortal life, Lestat is pushed aside or rejected by those he loves, which makes his urge to be part of a community or hold some connection with others a major goal which he cannot seem to achieve.
Louis always considered Lestat heartless, and a murderer. Since he was never taught about vampire gifts, he did not know that Lestat could read the thoughts of others. In the book, The Vampire Lestat (1985) it becomes clear that the main character was not as heartless as first perceived. In fact, Lestat explains it thus, “how was he to know I hunted almost exclusively among the gamblers, the thieves and the killers being more faithful to my unspoken vow to kill the evildoer than even I had hoped I would be” (Rice, 434-435; Roberts, 43). This is an example at the internal struggle of Lestat. He knew he was a monster, but to make up for the killing he only preyed on the rabble or criminals for the most part. He wanted to show the evildoers real evil and he often times succeed by playing with them before actually killing them (Roberts, 8).
Lestat’s fear is the true internal and external struggle for the character; his fear of being alone, his fear of not being respected, his fear of being a monster, his fear of his emotions and humanity. He feels as if he must always be powerful and respected by those around him (Smith, 26). As the character grows, he gains a better understanding of his human side in the books, The Tales of the Body Thief (1992) and Memnoch the Devil ( ). His fear does not abate but he comes to terms with it and starts to live to understand and control the fear rather than just hide behind it and gain little rewards that always fall apart before they actually decimate his fear. The fear of Lestat is what keeps his character growing and learning.
Following Lestat’s life through the vampire chronicles allows the reader to see and understand the growth of the character and the world around them. Lestat comes to terms with whom and what he is, both physically and emotionally (Roberts, 2; Smith 42). He learns that defying his old life and taking control of his new life is what is needed to survive and gain an identity that is his alone and is not defined by who he is with or who has rejected him. He gains an understanding and questions life and through his questioning gains a liberation that can only be known to those outside the norm and following their own moral and humanistic path.
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