Interview with the Vampire | Study Guide

Anne Rice

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Course Hero, "Interview with the Vampire Study Guide," July 13, 2017, accessed September 23, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Interview-with-the-Vampire/.

Interview with the Vampire | Part 3, Section 4 | Summary

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Summary

Louis awakens to Armand calling him as he smashes through the brick wall. Once freed, Armand urges Louis to leave Paris with him, but Louis rushes back into the theater for Claudia. Lestat still begs Louis to let him speak, but Louis feels overcome with fear when he sees Lestat clutching Claudia's yellow dress. In the next room, Louis discovers Claudia and Madeleine's burned bodies. Armand tries to pull Louis away, begging him to understand that he had no power to save Claudia, but an enraged Louis doesn't believe him. Sick of his passive nature, Louis warns Armand to stay away from the theater.

The next night Louis hires a carriage driver, whom he pays to follow his explicit orders. He arrives at the theater 15 minutes before dawn, when most of the vampires have gone to sleep. He pours kerosene and sets the building on fire. Santiago lunges from the fire to attack Louis, but Louis cuts off Santiago's head with a scythe. He moves quickly through the rising sunlight, which singes his skin, and rides in the waiting coffin inside the carriage away from Paris. Though grimly satisfied with his revenge, he cannot escape thoughts of Claudia and Madeleine's ashes.

Louis returns to Paris two days later looking for news of survivors, but finds none. Utterly alone and beyond sorrow, Louis wanders toward the Louvre, where Armand finds him. Armand assures Louis he doesn't want revenge, admitting he dismissed his human employees before the fire but didn't warn the vampires. Though angry, Louis surrenders to his feelings for Armand, wondering if they can love each other after so much evil. He asks Armand to take him into the Louvre. The art moves him with its technical beauty, but he can't feel the humanity that created it. He wants to bury Claudia's and Madeleine's coffins with some of their things, but finds the gesture meaningless. He and Armand travel to Egypt to see the art and tombs of the pharaohs.

Analysis

In the climax of the novel, after Claudia's murder, Louis loses what little humanity he has left. Everything Louis loved has been taken away, and for the first time since becoming a vampire, he is filled with hate. He enacts his plan for revenge, but has become so emotionally detached he doesn't care whether innocent humans die in the process. Spiritually broken, Louis shuns emotion and attachment, even rejecting Armand's invitations to run away together. Louis claims Armand forced him "into some acknowledgement of my powers, that the paths I'd normally chosen were human paths I no longer need follow." Finally embracing his "evil" nature, Louis enacts his powers by willfully destroying the theater and all the vampires within. Louis regrets not the destruction of the fire, but the destruction his own passivity has caused: "That passivity in me has been the core of it all, the real evil." He blames himself for Claudia's death because of his "weakness, [the] refusal to compromise a fractured and stupid morality, that awful pride!" When he finally embraces his destructive power, it's too late. He has already lost what made him most human: Claudia.

The symbolism of fire as a destructive force can clearly be seen as this section presents two scenes of burning—Santiago burning Claudia, and Louis burning the theater. Humanity, morality, redemption, God, and hope have all been destroyed in Claudia's burning death. Louis's search has ended. He detaches and embraces a life of violence and evil—the physical pleasures of vampirism his only comfort. Even though he despises Armand more deeply than he ever despised Lestat, Louis agrees to live as Armand's companion because in immortality, something is better than nothing.

Interestingly, despite his detachment, Louis still feels moved by the artwork in the Louvre. However, he can no longer connect to the "humanity" of the artwork, which highlights his sharp character change. Like Armand, Louis connects to the artwork aesthetically. He appreciates the art but no longer feels conflicted by it. He doesn't stare at the artwork with the same turmoil he stared at the artist's rendering of him in the previous section. Armand claims to want Louis because he embodies "the very spirit of your age ... your fall from grace and faith has been the fall of a century." Armand felt drawn to Louis for his confusion, his inability to detach and simply observe life. After Claudia's death, however, Louis becomes like any other vampire: an observer. He no longer feels attachment to anyone or anything.

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