Femme Fatale

Published: 2021-10-07 16:20:12
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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 her willingly over the threshold. This is another tell-tale sign of a vampire; they must be invited in and cannot simply enter freely. Soon after, Christabel praises the Virgin Mary for their successful entrance into the castle. Naturally, Geraldine becomes momentarily incapable of speech thus avoiding religious praise, exclaiming “Alas, alas! said Geraldine, / I cannot speak for weariness” (141-142). As they continue their trip they come across the mastiff who moans angrily in her sleep when Geraldine passes.
It is widely believed that animals are made to feel uneasy in the presence of a supernatural being. This superstition proves true in Christabel, convincing the reader that Geraldine is not safe, not to be trusted. The beginning of the first part of the poem really makes it apparent that Geraldine must be a vampire. She is the legendary femme fatale. She is charming, mysterious and seductive and Christabel is quickly enveloped in Geraldine’s wicked enchantment and obeys the enchantress when she instructs Christabel to disrobe: “And as the lady bade, did she. Her gentle limbs did she undress, / And lay down in her loveliness” (235-238). After this night of eerie eroticism Geraldine casts a spell over Christabel making her unable to speak the truth about Geraldine. Christabel’s father, Sir Leoline, meets Geraldine the following morning and comes to understand that she is the daughter of an old friend of his. He becomes rather besotted with Geraldine, the dangerous femme fatale, despite the attempted warnings from his bewitched Christabel. She falls at his feet and begs him to see reason and send Geraldine away

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