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Course Hero, "Interview with the Vampire Study Guide," July 13, 2017, accessed November 19, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Interview-with-the-Vampire/.

Interview with the Vampire | Themes

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Human Nature

From the outset Louis struggles with his vampire nature, frequently worrying that being a vampire automatically makes him a "child of the Devil," and that his nature is inherently evil no matter how he acts. He fights his instincts as a vampire, refusing for a long time to feed on human blood, eating only small animals instead. Lestat contests Louis's sense of humanity and morality, urging him to embrace his essence: vampires exist to prey on humans, and to do any less is absurd. Armand also pushes Louis to accept his state. He is no longer human, but he is a much more powerful creature. Louis occasionally gives in to his internal yearning, allowing him to enjoy the bliss of a kill, but he always hates himself after. If there is something "essential" about being a vampire, he detests it in himself. When Louis makes the conscious choice to turn Madeleine into a vampire, he surrenders to his "nature," finally destroying the obvious remnants of his humanity. Yet even in this act, Louis shows his self-sacrifice, going against his principles to make Claudia happy. Filled with love for his "daughter," Louis is willing to destroy himself to ensure her happiness.

Despite being "living dead," few vampires are entirely ready to abandon their human nature, particularly the appreciation of art and other aesthetic pleasures. Louis longs to visit the museums of Europe, while Lestat befriends a musician who creates beautiful compositions. Armand eagerly travels to the Louvre, while Claudia obsesses over fashion and porcelain dolls. Art continues to bring the vampires happiness, although it adds little worth to their immortal lives. The vampires also cling to the idea of love, which seems impossible for "evil" creatures to understand, yet Louis claims to love Claudia, Armand, and even Lestat. Lestat loves Louis, Armand loves Louis, and Claudia loves Madeleine. Yet love is complicated because vampires live forever. They grow bored with each other just as they grow tired of the changing world. The only relationship that might have endured is the father-daughter relationship between Louis and Claudia, although she was becoming increasingly dissatisfied as she aged. When Claudia dies, Louis becomes completely emotionally detached, finally submerging whatever remnants of humanity remained in him, giving himself over completely to his vampire essence and therefore losing the humanity Armand coveted. Ultimately, vampires, which are fantastical creatures, become a metaphor for human nature. Both can be brutal, violent, and cruel, but human beings choose between good and evil and seek meaning in their lives.

Immortality

Humans like the interviewer fear death and are intoxicated by the idea of immortality as an avoidance of the inevitable end to the only existence they've known. Yet Louis's story, and Interview with the Vampire, as a whole, proves immortality can be just as grim as life itself. The vampires live in constant fear of destruction despite their immortality. Louis and Lestat fear the slaves at Pointe du Lac will try to destroy them, and Louis and Claudia panic at the consequences of their actions when Lestat returns from their murder attempt. Claudia believes Armand will destroy her to fully possess Louis, so she demands Louis create a new companion for her. Louis and Claudia are so attached they simply fear continuing life without each other. Claudia is perhaps most dissatisfied with her immortality, given that she must remain a child forever. She never experienced sexuality and can never become a mother, not even as a vampire because her body is too small to "turn" a human. Perhaps mercifully, the coven cuts her vampire life short, although the violence and brutality of murder overshadow the idea of release.

Rice uses the idea of living forever to actually show why death is necessary, perhaps even comforting, regardless of whether or not there is a God or the soul continues. She seems to suggest mortality and mere humanity (over being a supernatural all-powerful being) is a relief, and at the same time she dares readers to ponder whether they could endure immortality. Armand explains to Louis that no vampire would ultimately choose immortality. Existence that stretches through the centuries simply means watching as everyone or everything a vampire loved or found comforting is replaced. Armand tries to stretch his own immortality by latching onto Louis, a vampire in tune with the 19th century, which is a completely different from the 15th-century world Armand was born into. When Louis grows more detached and hardened against emotion, Armand begins his plummet into despair and eventually destroys himself.

The message of immortality's grimness has no effect on the interviewer. Despite Louis's attempt to cast his life as a cautionary tale, the interviewer cannot accept the inevitability of a vampire's despairing end. In the arrogance of youth and humanity, the interviewer believes he could use immortality more wisely and live forever "better" than all the vampires who have tried before him. He asks Louis to turn him. In this way the cycle of vampires is perpetuated; youth will never learn from the wisdom of age and will always seek to experience things for themselves.

Morality

Louis, struggling to understand what he is and where he comes from, remains tormented by the thought that as a vampire he is an inherently evil creature. He does everything in his power to keep true evil at bay: feeding only on animals, helping Babette maintain control of her family's plantation, showing compassion for Lestat's elderly father. But something always gnaws at Louis: evil or not, he inherently craves human blood and discovers feeding on humans brings him the only fulfillment and peace he can attain. In order to accommodate his need, he creates a twisted moral code: he only feeds on strangers and does so swiftly to minimize their suffering, unlike Lestat who creates elaborate charades to tease his victims before killing them. Like any human, Louis the vampire frequently falls short of his principles: he feeds on Claudia and allows Lestat to turn her into a vampire; he kills Lestat's father—although mostly out of mercy to end the old man's suffering; and he turns Madeleine into a vampire, feeling the full weight of responsibility for all the lives she will destroy.

As a human and as a vampire, Louis can't live up to his own moral code. After Paul dies, Louis descends into "dark" behavior. As a vampire, he feels like a hypocrite rather than like the flawed humans he desires to emulate. To Louis, committing one sin is equivalent to committing thousands. Armand points out the impracticality of Louis's rigidity: if not all good deeds are equivalent, then not all bad deeds are equivalent. One cannot cross the line into evil and never have the option to be good again. Louis and Armand agree there is little evidence of God in the world, and thus little evidence of Satan, whom God would have created, if either existed. Armand tries to argue that without these two entities, evil does not exist, nor does sin. But as a humanist Louis feels his incessant killing is a crime against all the humans who have so little time to experience their lives. It is a sin against man, and because he is aware of it, he is a sinner with no hope of redemption. Louis does attempt to redeem himself by telling his story to the interviewer, but when the boy asks to be turned into a vampire despite Louis's tragic tale, Louis believes himself a complete failure.

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