Chapter 8 of Martha’s Children, and the logic of enthrallment

“It’s not that I don’t like you, I just want to kill you,” chapter 8 of Martha’s Children, is now up on my blog. Cops are loyal to their partners. But what happens when your partner turns up as a vampire? Ned’s about to find out! If you’re not already reading Martha’s Children, you can start here.

In the world of Martha’s Children, vampires have the ability to enthrall their prey. This is hardly a new notion in literature. Vampires have been enthralling their victims since Varney the Vampire (1845-47). Which is not to say they’ve all done it the same way, and some don’t do it at all.

Don't look at the eyes!

Don’t look at the eyes!

Enthrallment is usually depicted as being similar to the popular conception of hypnotism. The vampire stares at you with his eyes, and you can’t look away. Your attention has been captured. Your will weakens, and the next thing you know, you are doing whatever the vampire wants you to do. You’ve lost control. The similarity to sexual attraction is obvious, and indeed it has often been portrayed that way in the literature, starting at least as early as Le Fanu’s Carmilla. The vampire is almost always the aggressor, the prey almost always passive. That explains at the sexual level how Fifty Shades of Gray could evolve out of Twilight.

If the vampire’s attack ends in the death of the victim every time, that’s that. But what if the vampire takes several attacks to kill its victims, as in Dracula? Typically, the victims are unable and unwilling to escape the vampire. Somehow, the vampire has altered the victim’s psychology. In the literature, the alterations range from sapping the will of the victim, to confusing the victim’s understanding and memories of what has been happening, to making the victim fall in love with the vampire, to the point of wanting to be killed and becoming a vampire in turn.

In Martha’s Children, I’ve given my vampires the full range of enthrallment. Vampires being predators, enthrallment is their way of luring and capturing their prey. They can use their voices and their touch as well as their eyes to enthrall prey. But just as sexual attraction only reaches its peak with the stimulation of the sexual organs, vampiric enthrallment is at its most powerful when vampires bare their fangs.

There are more parallels to sexual attraction. We humans have developed the ability to decouple our sexuality from reproduction. So, too, vampires in the world of Martha’s Children have learned how to decouple enthrallment from feeding. They can enthrall to various levels without feeding, show their fangs without enthralling. Of course, if they’re hungry and have trapped their prey otherwise, they are still quite prepared to dispense with enthralling their prey, and just simply biting into them and drinking their blood. That they don’t do that very often testifies to how much vampires enjoy enthrallment as their version of sexual foreplay.

Love is a many-splendored thing

Love is a many-splendored thing

To conclude today’s post on a personal note, I mentioned last week I was ill, and might skip Monday’s post, which in the event I did. Unlike victims of vampirism, I’m not enthralled with the virus that’s been preying on me. Between getting better, and getting sick and tired of being sick and tired, I believe I’ve recovered enough that the blog will be back on its regular schedule again.


About Brian Bixby

I enjoy history because it helps me understand people. I'm writing fiction for much the same reason.
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4 Responses to Chapter 8 of Martha’s Children, and the logic of enthrallment

  1. crimsonprose says:

    Glad to hear you have (almost) recovered. Wicked vampiric viruses! 🙂

    • Brian Bixby says:

      I didn’t realize when I wrote the above piece that I was about to start my first day without virus-caused back pain. So Friday really did mark the start of my recovery in a very practical sense. And I see you’ve been busy setting up a lot of fiction and history for me to read. 😉

      • crimsonprose says:

        Sorry about that. I’m held back on the history again. Statted to write up research only to find I needed more. Breaks my heart the amount of information I’m having to omit. But even then, these are mammoth posts. Can’t cut it; it’s all those references. And I should tell you, ho-ho. Look forward to you being back in the seat. 🙂

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