At the apex of the study of any character within any work of literature, it is interesting to do a short search on the origins and respective meanings of the name of the individual. Amel, a name of Eastern – Middle to Ancient-near-Eastern – origins, is, primarily a feminine attribute, and speaks volumes of the role of women within the Vampire Chronicles.
Any responsive, intuitive reader, will note an aspect of tension between the sexes in this series. Not just between genders, as, genders within the VC are as fluid as water. If sex relates to the possession of one set of genitalia in direct opposition to its interlocking set, then gender refers to the simple resonance that an individual feels with the feminine, or the masculine.
The lines between sexuality within this series are constantly erased and reset within and without the boundaries of comfort. Men take other men, and boys, as lovers, women take multitudes as theirs, and men and women are so frequently mistaken for members of the opposite sex through dress and carriage of the self, that, noting the issue of sex is brought down to one simple facet… The perspective character’s ability to separate what he/she has previously perceived of the opposite sex, with what they know to be standing before them.
In a blooming, overarching statement, it is important to note, that vampires, in all works of fiction, tend towards resisting change. Instead, they remain stuck within the complications and social responses of the time of their mortality. Marius, has a low regard for women, in general. His response to but a handful of them is more promising than most, but, overall, he perceives them as weak, in relation to men, with whom he attributes power, and the capability of great intellect. Pandora espies men as malleable, but often too stubborn to converse openly with. Louis almost never displays a response to women, at least, not in casual speech, and, when he does level an opinion on the female sex, it is often heavily drawn with surprise at something unexpected that occurred.
Based on these antiquated assertions, by many men – and women – in the series (particularly if one regards stringent quotes on behalf of the characters of Marius, Armand, and Lestat), one would expect the women with whom they fraternise to be weak of nature, and altogether tied to a very staid perception of the female sex. Almost a Romantic interpretation – fickle, high-tempered, and all-too-untrustworthy. However, women in this series, either possess none of these characteristics, or they possess them in such abundance, that their nature practically overthrows the ability of men within these pages to react beneficially to the situation at hand. What can be seen, is that, in the same vein as Shakespeare, Ricean female characters, are heroines. They are courageous, and, more often than not, they are the painful thoughts and memories that spur the lime-light drenched male characters to action, and to disregard the rules, and, frequently, to cause upsets of the world around them, that leave the fate of their own kind in peril.
This is not to say that these “heroines” are kind, compassionate creatures, always looking to the light, and, somehow, drawing on bonds to save the day. No. Not all heroes/heroines are gracious individuals. From our tragic hero, to the anti-hero, Anne Rice’s female troupe offer the lot, including capricious tempers and rueful decisions that are often equal in destructive force to that of their male counterparts. Pandora looses her temper and acts tempestuously to create rifts between her and her lovers. Gabrielle choose solitude and studious curiosity over the love of her devoted son. Bianca opts to preserve her emotional self, disregarding the pain Marius feels. And Claudia… a child, with a woman’s cunning, manipulates her men, turns them against one another, until the one that loves her the most is revealed to cater to her every wish. But each of these goddesses are equal in value, and in mortal suffering, to their male companions, and not one is lessened by their position as the “weaker sex.”
Previously on Vampire Bibliographica, we have discussed the viability of sexuality in vampires; their responses to intercourse as an act, their responses to members of the opposite sex, as well as their responses to their own sex. What is intriguing to note on Rice’s vampires, is that they are highly sexualised, and yet they are almost entirely omnisexual, and, simultaneously asexual, depending on the perspective of the reader assimilating the information. Now, I for one, believe that, when reading any work of fiction, there is a dissonance evoked, which must always be set aside through a simple clarification from the mind through which the discussion is delivered. And so, let me say now, that, as an avid Rice fan, I am aware, that not every individual will believe and respond as I do to her work, just as some will vehemently insist that I am right, and others will display utter ambivalence. This is a work of my own capacity to understand the author’s writings, and intent, and respond to the literature in kind.
Amel, is spirit, and, while he/she resonates with masculinity, and, without provocation, it seems, is referred to by all who encounter it as “he;” the creature never reveals its true nature. It stands to reason, that Amel, is as likely to be female, as it is to be male, and, that, its feisty, ill-temperedness is a closer relation to the study of women within the series, than to men – though God knows, Lestat has, more than once, shown that capricious aggression shining through in the form of passive aggressive insults and tantrums.
But, the feminine aspect of Amel’s name may not be coincidental at all. In fact, it may very well be the intention, to further blur the lines between then sexes. To intimate how much one shares with another, and how alike they are, in spite of their vehement assertions to the contrary.