Femme Fatale

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Femme Fatale

Coleridge’s Christabel is counted among the first works of English literature to approach the topic of the femme fatale. He created what is considered common stock in literature about female vampires. Many writers have created versions of Coleridge’s Christabel using Geraldine as the foundation for their femme fatale character and often even using her name or a slight variation.

The first part of the poem seems to suggest that Geraldine may be a creature that is not of the natural world. Indeed, she has many qualities that lead the reader to believe that she may be a vampire. Upon first seeing and meeting Geraldine, she seems a questionable character and has an eerie presence. Coleridge’s description of the woman shows attributes of the femme fatale and also of the vampire of legend: Drest in a silken robe of white,

That shadowy in the moonlight shone:
The neck that made that white robe wan,
Her stately neck, and arms were bare;
Her blue-veined feet unsandal’d were,
And wildly glittered here and there
The gems entangled in her hair. (59-65)
Geraldine is dressed in a white robe but her sickly pallor has less color still. Her blue-veined feet make us think that she may not be quite as alive as Christabel which makes her seem all the more mysterious. Even this first appearance of Geraldine has us wondering if she is to be trusted. However, Christabel does not think twice about the woman’s haggard and somewhat ghostly appearance after hearing Geraldine’s story of the horror from which she recently escaped. She immediately takes the damsel’s hand and leads her to the castle. It seems that the charm of the seductress works nearly at first contact…

More of Geraldine’s vampiric traits begin to surface on the short journey to the castle and to Christabel’s bedroom. She feigns a sudden rush of pain and Christabel unquestioningly picks up the damsel and carries...
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