Louis de Pointe du Lac

“As if the night had said to me, ‘You are the night and the night alone understands you and enfolds you in its arms’ One with the shadows. Without nightmare. An inexplicable peace.”

– Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire

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I’m revising Interview with the Vampire, because I feel as though I’ve lost touch with the book, and that thought is very distressing to me. This is where it all started, after all. This was the first Anne Rice novel I read and the sole reason that I went out the same afternoon that I finished the book and purchased as many of the subsequent novels as I could find.

Strangely enough, I’d almost completely forgotten about Louis, the character that we have to thank for being the roots of this epic series we call The Vampire Chronicles. And how could I forget? He combined so much love and frustration in the reader that he seems to be, what can only be described as, memorable. But revisiting Interview is like seeing an old friend for the first time in years. It’s bitter-sweet, really, because while we’re so ecstatic we can barely breathe, we have to remember to rein ourselves in.

Reacquaint ourselves with him and his little idiosyncrasies.

My separation from Louis has hardened me, made me forget why I adored him when I first read this novel. The intriguing thing about any Anne Rice tale is that you become so accustomed to the way characters think that their opinions start to colour your own. And while Louis is a favoured topic of conversation and reminiscence, he is not always viewed in the kindest of spot-lights. And who can blame them, really? Once we pass by Interview, we start to see Louis in the role of ‘lying catalyst.’

When I first read Interview I was appalled at the character of Lestat, his mannerisms, his provocations towards Louis, and his cruelty in speech and action which seemed to have no end. He was a clear villain. Naturally, my opinions of him shifted in The Vampire Lestat.

Now that I have some age and a fair deal more understanding on my side, the benefits of the first person voice are made clear. We view Lestat in a negative light because our vision is clouded by Louis’. Consequently, the same can be said of the novels which followed Interview with the Vampire. When seeing Lestat through Lestat’s own eyes the image is sharper, clearer, and more innocent. Louis gave us Lestat as he sees him, not necessarily the way he is.

Although so many behavioural patterns remain the same.

“I allowed myself to forget how totally I had fallen in love with Lestat’s iridescent eyes, that I’d sold my soul for a many-colored and luminescent thing, thinking that a highly reflective surface conveyed the power to walk on water.”

– Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire

I can’t say that Louis blatantly lied about Lestat; he bent the truth in some places, yes, but the character that he describes is, in fact, accurate. The complication is not in the fact that Lestat is a ‘bad’ character in Interview. The complication stems from the fact that Louis had no conception of how to handle Lestat. How to deal with his extreme behaviour, his over-exuberance, and, what must have come across to a sensitive soul like Louis, his cruelty.

Louis is the very core of the stories we read. He is the first vampire we meet and is remarkably human. That is the paint which colours our opinions from this point out; that there is humanity in these ‘monsters’. Louis proves that to us. He is also the strongest vampire archetype we have in literature today: the tormented vampire. The one who hates what he is. The Angels, Edward Cullens, and Stefan Salvatores of the world are all based on this image, and these are the most prevalent vampire heroes in modern literature.

Louis is a seeker. He has been asking questions about the nature of good and evil since his mortal days, since the day his brother died. He has an inquisitive soul and is, therefore, often let down by those who claim to know more than it seems at first, but really only disappoint him when the truth comes out. He looks to Lestat for answers and Lestat gives him none. But the questions he asks are impossible to answer. Is there a God? Why do vampires exist? None but the ancients know and they’re not sharing the details at this juncture. It would have been interesting to have read a novel from Louis’ perspective following the events of Queen of the Damnded, or even Memnoch the Devil. Although the audience may have found difficulty in relating to Louis in a world where he has some of the answers he wanted. Just as a post-Merrick Louis would also have been too great a change. Then one must consider, based on the basic nature of Louis’ character, is it likely that he would have been satisfied with the answers he was given? Isn’t it his nature to continuously question?

“I was at a loss suddenly; but conscious all the while of how Armand listened; that he listened in the way that we dream of others listening, his face seeming to reflect on every thing said. He did not start forward to seize on my slightest pause, to assert an understanding of something before the thought was finished, or to argue with a swift, irresistible impulse — the things which often make dialogue impossible.
And after a long interval he said, ‘I want you. I want you more than anything in the world.’”

– Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire

In the character of Armand, Louis finally finds a patient companion. Armand, in the beginning of their relationship, is (in Louis’ eyes) a wise adolescent who never holds back what he knows. But that’s part of the trouble with Louis. Those he encounters learn to be careful of what they say to him, and Armand hides much from Louis in order to keep him around.

Sadly though, despite Armand’s efforts, Louis is still too human. He clings to his humanity, never marrying the human and monstrous portions of himself. And for this reason, he is unable to accept the company of other ‘monsters’ for too long and Armand is, of course, unable to accept his company either.

Interestingly, it is when these two part ways that we see Louis taking matters into his own hands for the first time. He is usually content to wait for change, rather than to make change happen on his own. We’ve seen this behaviour in his relationships with Lestat and Claudia. Although it pains him to watch them being cruel, he remains in their company. Maybe out of guilt, or apathy.

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And then there is Claudia to consider. And the effect she had on Louis. Claudia was a tragedy. But more importantly, she was Louis’ tragedy; the one person who could keep him weak, without even being in his field of reference. When the truth about Claudia’s manipulation is revealed to him and her soul is sent away, Louis finally breaks from his past (if with Merrick’s supernatural assistance) and, perhaps, even forgives himself for her. He finally has it in him to take his own existence… Which doesn’t work after all this time.

Yes, it would have been good to get a newer perspective on Louis following that incident. But, as has already been discussed, Louis is better as the tormented soul than a man free from emotional burden. And who’s to say he would behave any differently?

Regardless of how we feel about Louis, we have to remember that everything he describes is seen through his eyes. We experience the world in Interview through him, and Louis is more surely a student of Lestat’s savage garden than Lestat ever was. Louis sees the beauty of the world and is in love with it, but he also sees the evil of its inhabitants – a fact which causes him pain. He may not be everyone’s favourite character, but he is the one that we connect with the most. Everything down to his most basic behaviour is human.

If we were to see him as anything other than that, it would shatter a perfect illusion.

 

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28 Comments

  • Reply Devika Fernando February 27, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    This is just PERFECT. I don’t think I have come across a better description of Louis’ character and the way we react to him. By the way, I loved your piece on Lestat, too. If I had the chance to ask you for a favour, I’d want your take on all other major and minor characters in Anne Rice’s fabulous, epic, captivating Vampire Chronicles.

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      Hi there Devika!

      Oooh, Devika is the name of my main character :). I am slowly working my way through all the vampires in the Vampire Chronicles, so not to worry :).

  • Reply Candida F February 27, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Beautiful! I’ve thought this for a while now, its good to see that its out there in more thoughts than my own.
    I hadn’t realised that Louis as a character wasn’t liked, to be honest he is my favourite in the chronicles, followed by Khayman.
    This article was a joy to read!! (I love your site!!)

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      Thank you so much! 😀

  • Reply Dee Vance February 27, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    You nailed it! I am happy to see that after all these years Anne Rice’s characters are still of such interest to her readers and to the genera. I too have muddled over her characters personalities. Louis being my favoriate. Lastat being captivating in all her works. But, I for one, would like to read more of the ancients. I am currently rereading Merrick. My love of David Talbot is growing again. He too is tortured. However, being a scholar he handles being a vampire better than the rest. Good job! I look forward to reading more…

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 27, 2013 at 5:14 pm

      Thank you, Dee. As I have said, I’ll be working my way through all of them in time.
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      • Reply Devika Fernando February 28, 2013 at 4:58 am

        oh, then don’t miss out on david even though he’s not one of the ancients. he’s got to be one of my favourite vampires, he’s just so full of potential in so many ways.

        • Reply Alura February 28, 2013 at 7:15 am

          True Devika, I love David, maybe it is because he is the most patient and well learned vampire.

        • Reply Lafaeyette February 28, 2013 at 7:43 am

          David will be getting his own page soon.

  • Reply William February 28, 2013 at 2:54 am

    Brava! Perrrrrfectly nostalgic!

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 28, 2013 at 7:44 am

      Why thank you, William 🙂

  • Reply Joshua McKnight February 28, 2013 at 7:36 am

    I really appreciate your takes on Anne Rice and her Vampires. I, too, adore Louis. He was, as you say, the first one I fell in love with. I am an avid reader and re-reader of the Vampire Chronicles. I’d love to leave you with a quote from The Tale of the Body Thief. Lestat, in the St. Louis Cathederal says: “Very slowly I turned, and I saw Louis’s unmistakable form emerging from the shadows. Only Louis. The light of the candles slowly revealed his placid ad slightly gaunt face. He had on a dusty sad coat, and his worn shirt was open at the collar, and he looked faintly cold. … He seemed so fragile with his pallid skin and long delicate hands. And yet I could feel the cool strength emanating from him as I always had, the strength of the thoughtful one who does nothing on impulse, the one who sees from all angles, who chooses his words with care. The one who never plays with the coming sun.” (pg 117) … “He wears woe as others wear velvet; sorrow flatters him like the light of candles; tears become him like jewels.” (pg 113)

    • Reply Lafaeyette February 28, 2013 at 7:41 am

      Thank you, Joshua 🙂

    • Reply rozy March 11, 2014 at 5:11 am

      “who does nothing on impulse” so how the hell are Nicolas and Louis twins in any sense of the world? Nicolas was very impulsive I think we can all agree.

      • Reply Carmen Dominique March 11, 2014 at 7:27 am

        I think, twisted into it, Louis can be impulsive. But it is in moments of mania and self-hatred that this occurs. Such as, when he kills the painter who paints his picture. Or was it a sketch artist? I cannot recall.

  • Reply Heather MacKenzie March 1, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    I found this article via Anne Rice’s FB page. She linked it on her timeline (in case you didn’t know this). What an honour to have the author herself link to your wonderful essay!

    • Reply Lafaeyette March 1, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      Thanks, Heather :D. I pay very close attention to Anne’s FB page! If I’m grateful to anything regarding the internet, it’s the fact that we are now able to communicate with our idols.

  • Reply Cheri Sundra March 26, 2013 at 1:40 am

    I never thought of Louis in quite that light….now you’ve given me something new to consider the next time I revisit this story! Thank you!

    ~~Cheri Sundra

    • Reply Lafaeyette March 26, 2013 at 8:13 am

      You’re very welcome, Cheri. That is my intention, to provide an added perspective to an already much-loved character 🙂

  • Reply rozy March 11, 2014 at 5:01 am

    What are your thoughts on Lestat’s Nicolas/Louis comparison. I actually felt glaring differences, Louis is never known in the book to be musically inclined for instance.

    • Reply Carmen Dominique March 11, 2014 at 7:26 am

      I think it runs deeper than inclination and appreciation. It is a commentary on that darkness in both of them, their self-depreciation.

      • Reply Hook in Mouth May 15, 2014 at 1:05 am

        I think Louis plays instrument(s) almost definitely though.

  • Reply Rozyve May 14, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Both Nicolas and Louis’s belief in good and evil are similar though I would say for Louis it was more of a search and for Nicolas a conviction and question but not in the searching way it was for Louis if that makes any sense. “but he also sees the evil of its inhabitants – a fact which causes him pain.” I think- tell me if I am right- that with Louis what you say is true- that evil causes him pain and for Nicolas beauty especially found in unlikely places like sad songs caused him pain. I don’t think Nicolas was truly evil but I am see why he thought that because the vast vast majority experience joy from beauty- even very melancholy beauty. I think he liked the pain beauty caused him but he could only handle so much. I also think Nicolas was not disturbed by evil, maybe indifferent or cynical in a sardonic way such as when Lestat says theatre is good bc it makes people forget… and Nicolas says “What, that they’re going to die?” Lestat describes his smile as vicious. Hope this makes sense.

    • Reply Carmen Dominique May 20, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      It does indeed. I think, at the core, they are two similar creatures. And, it is for this reason that Lestat likened them.

  • Reply Hook in Mouth May 17, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    I don’t think Armand had to worry about Daniel throwing a grenade or pouring gasoline on the house in the daytime and setting it on fire. Some people would have done that though. He was no real threat.

    • Reply Carmen Dominique May 20, 2014 at 9:42 pm

      No, he loved him too much. Needed him too much.

      • Reply Hook in Mouth May 22, 2014 at 8:29 am

        I mean where Lestat was sleeping. He didn’t love him yet then.

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