“…all those females whom he had sought, apparently on account of their virtue, had, since his departure, thrown even the mask aside, and had not scrupled to expose the whole deformity of their vices to the public view” (43).
This quote represents much of the sexual shame brought on upon the conquests of Lord Strongmore. By defiling their virtue and leaving them, he shames them. It stands as a mark of his seduction, that he is also able to leave the women feeling as if it is their fault and their disgrace. There are familiar overtones in contemporary stories of seduction and sexuality where the woman is often expected to prove any wrongdoing. Here, too, is the only clear example in the story of the women having any voice of reaction to the seduction. There are no cases in which Strongmore is blamed outright or a woman accuses him. He remains largely untouched throughout the story despite the seemingly obvious implications his behavior elicits. The women, alternatively, are disregarded after they've been victimized, rarely given agency during or after the event.
Do you think Polidori is representing a critique on this type of behavior? Clearly Strongmore is monstrous under his creation, but given the women’s marginal role and indeed, “hunter”-like impulses, who is Polidori suggesting at fault?
Do you believe in the allegory of seducer and rapist? Is this simply one facet of a supernatural creature or is the vampire a way to describe a person who commits such a crime?
“Struck with the idea that he left by his absence the whole of his friends, with a fiend amongst them, of whose presence they were unconscious, he determined to enter again into society, and watch him closely, anxious to forewarn, in spite of his oath, all whom Lord Strongmore should approach with intimacy. But when he entered into a room, his haggard and suspicious looks were so striking, his inward shudderings so visible, that his sister was at last obliged to beg of him to abstain from seeking, for her sake, a society, which affected him so strongly” (55-56).
This quote sums up Aubrey’s stressful situation, in which he battles with his mind as to whether or not he should break his oath. He wishes he could reveal the secret, but he can’t make himself do it. However, his visible “inward shudderings” and “haggard and suspicious looks” reveal that he’s hiding some sort of secret. Aubrey’s sister believes his behaviors to be part of his illness, so she begs him to stay away from the society that affects him.
What does the theme of betrayal reveal about Aubrey’s and Lord Strongmore’s character? Why is it so easy for Aubrey to betray his friends in the first half of the story, but is so difficult in breaking his oath toward the end? Does his refusal to break his oath contribute to his death?
What do you think would have happened if Aubrey breaks his oath before the year and one day passes? Does Lord Strongmore put Aubrey in a “double-edged sword” situation?
“His incoherence became at last so great, that he was confined to his chamber. There he would often lie for days, incapable of being roused. He had become emaciated; his eyes had attained a glassy luster; ---the only sign of affection and recollection remaining displayed itself upon the entry of his sister” (56).
At this point in the story the distrust of the narrator is at its peak. Aubrey has been attacked, suffered a violent fever, attacked by robbers, his companion has died and he believes has come back to life. He is so delusional that he is not allowed to leave his house and a doctor is called to monitor him. The text suggests he has restrained from eating suggested by his “emaciated” state. How can a person who has lost so much body fat that he is considered to be emaciated be trusted as a narrator? His body and mind were suffering equally. Perhaps even the word “lie” serves a double meaning in this quote. A reader must humor the notion that Aubrey has crafted this vampire story in his mind based on his observance of Lord Strongmore’s effect on women and his protective instincts for his sister.
When are the moments in the text in which we are given clear evidence of Lord Strongmore’s vampirism without the cloud of sickness, mental breakdown, and delusion?
Are we given the story from Aubrey’s point of view, or from that of an unbiased narrator?
“It had been discovered , that his contempt for the adulteress had not originated in hatred of her character; but that he had required to enhance his gratification that his victim, the partner of his guilt, should be hurled from the pinnacle of unsullied virtue, down to the lowest abyss of infamy and degradation: in fine, that all those females whom he had sought, apparently on account of their virtue, had, since his departure, thrown even the mask aside, and had not scrupled to expose the whole deformity of their vices to the public view” – pg 43
What this quote displays is how Lord Strongmore enjoys (“enhances gratification”) the fact that the women are ruined of their virtuous state. The ever so important untouched and untainted fashion of life in which women of this time are intended to live is completely changed by an encounter with Lord Strongmore. The quote goes so far as to say that the women are even ashamed and afraid to reveal their actions, or “vices”, with Lord Strongmore whereas Lord Strongmore himself holds no fear of doing so. The quote also demonstrates how Lord Strongmore enjoys choosing his women, or prey, by their virgin or virtuous state only to inevitably destroy both.
With the role of women evolving over the years and a "virtuous state" no longer being of utmost importance, how do you think the character of Lord Strongmore would change?
Or, do you feel that the women of today being "virtuous" is still important? Why or why not?