Claudia (The Vampire Chronicles)
|The Vampire Chronicles character|
Art by Ashley M Witter
|First appearance||Interview with the Vampire|
|Created by||Anne Rice|
|Portrayed by||Kirsten Dunst (Interview with the Vampire)|
Lestat de Lioncourt (maker/adoptive father)
Louis de Pointe du Lac (adoptive father)
Madeleine (adoptive mother)
Claudia is a fictional character in Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles series. She is one of the main characters in Interview with the Vampire (1976), the first novel in the series. She also features in The Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned, The Tale of the Body Thief, The Vampire Armand and Merrick.
Claudia (her last name is never given) was a young girl who lived in the very poor, plague-ravaged quarters of 18th century New Orleans. She lost both of her parents to the plague, and is first introduced as a crying child of five years old in her abandoned house, next to her dead mother's rotting, disease-ridden body. She is described as being very petite in size and delicately shaped, with long golden ringlets for hair and porcelain white skin. She is found by Louis de Pointe du Lac, the protagonist of Interview with the Vampire, and begs him to "wake" her mother. Louis instead feeds on Claudia, much to his self-disgust, and leaves her for dead. However, her life is saved by Lestat de Lioncourt, Louis's maker.
Claudia is taken to the vampires' wealthy townhouse in the heart of New Orleans, and there she is turned into a vampire by Lestat. Lestat tells her that she is his and Louis's "daughter" and that now that she is in their family, Louis can not leave them. Though Louis is at first horrified at the thought of a vampire child (and indeed he accuses Lestat of condemning Claudia to hell), he and Claudia become very attached and the three form a close relationship and live a "family" lifestyle for the next several decades.
Interview with the Vampire
Although the three vampires spend many years in happiness, luxury and comfort, Claudia slowly but surely begins to grow more and more detached, insisting on self-sufficiency and even gaining her own miniature coffin so that she does not have to sleep with either Lestat or Louis during the daylight hours. Claudia becomes highly self-educated and philosophical under Louis's tutelage. She also becomes an indiscriminate murderer under Lestat's guidance. She would "appear to her victims as a little angel" and lure them to their deaths.
As the decades pass, Claudia becomes increasingly dissatisfied and irritated with constantly being "dressed as a doll" by her two fathers. Her frustration leads her to kill an innocent mother and daughter and leave their corpses to rot in the kitchen of the townhouse. When her deed is discovered by Lestat and Louis, she snaps into a blind rage and informs the two that she isn't a little girl anymore, but is cursed and trapped in the body of a five year old child, thus forever damned to a body never able to develop. She desperately wants to physically mature into a full grown woman but will never have that chance, and that she never asked to become a vampire in the first place, therefore she hates her two fathers more than she ever thought possible.
Afterwards, Claudia remains attached to Louis but grows increasingly hostile toward Lestat, holding him responsible for her inner misery. Obsessed with finding out the origins of vampires and finding "her own kind", Claudia questions Lestat on his maker and about creating other vampires and even about the creation of the very first vampire. Lestat knows all these answers, but refuses to say a word and give Claudia any insight. Finally through with her "father", Claudia poisons Lestat with the blood of a poisoned young boy and slashes his throat, having Louis leave Lestat's desiccated and seemingly lifeless body in the local swamps.
Claudia and Louis flee New Orleans and head to Europe, where Claudia's research has indicated vampiric activity. They are embittered and disillusioned when the only vampires they come across are mindless, unintelligent beasts who have no moral compass and are a far cry from the sophisticated vampires that Claudia and Louis are. Eventually, the two head to Paris to embrace civilization and find happiness again. The wedge between Louis and Claudia grows larger than ever as Claudia spirals even further into maddened fury at the torturing thought of being trapped within the body of a little girl forever.
Everything changes when the two find the Théâtre des Vampires, a group of vampire mummers disguising themselves as humans playing vampires in a theatre onstage for a mortal audience. Claudia is repulsed by these vampires and what she considers to be their cheap theatrics. Santiago, a prominent figure among the vampire coven, suspects Claudia and Louis of killing their maker which is strictly against the rules of the vampire lifestyle. Eventually, Claudia and Louis meet Armand, a charming and handsome vampire who Louis becomes enchanted by. Armand falls in love with Louis, and Claudia hears Armand telling her telepathically to leave Louis as a companion. Feeling threatened, Claudia sinks into a sort of paranoid insanity, finally forcing Louis to create his first vampire, a woman named Madeleine, to care for Claudia when/if he leaves with Armand, severing ties between them, seemingly for good.
Shortly after this, the Parisian vampires abduct the three of them and take them to the Théâtre des Vampires, where it is revealed that Lestat is alive and has sought revenge for Claudia's crimes against him. The punishment for any vampire who attempts to kill their own kind is immediate death. Lestat's plea to be allowed to take Louis away is ignored as Louis is sentenced to an eternity of starvation, locked inside a coffin. Though Louis's life is spared, Claudia and Madeleine are left to die in a room where they cannot escape exposure from the sun, which of course is fatal to any vampire. Claudia is burned to death and turned to ashes, and her death spurs Louis – who has escaped his prison with Armand's help – into a hostile rage that inspires him to take vengeance on the vampires, torching the Théâtre des Vampires and setting it ablaze before killing all the vampires inside. He escapes the scene with Armand and the two vampires leave together. It is Claudia's death that finally turns Louis cold and away from his "mortal passion", a death that Armand forever mourns.
The Vampire Lestat
More of Claudia's relationship with Lestat is revealed in Lestat's eponymous autobiography, where he describes her fondness for playing with her victims as he did, and his sorrow at the turn their relationship took. Still, he reiterates his statement made at the end of Interview with the Vampire, that Claudia "should never have been one of us."
The Queen of the Damned
When Jesse Reeves, at the time an investigator of paranormal activities for the Talamasca, received the assignment to purchase and uncover the townhouse of Lestat's coven in New Orleans, she finds Claudia's room as well as a diary kept in secret by Claudia, revealing more of her inner thoughts about her love/hate relationship with Lestat in particular, as well as hints of her growing rage and confusion at being an adult woman trapped forever within a child's body. And later in the book, when Jesse was in the hotel, she found Claudia. Jesse did survive the event.
It soon becomes clear to Jesse that Claudia's ghost, or at least a psychic imprint left behind after her violent death, is haunting the townhouse. Claudia's ghost realizes that Jesse can see her, and haunts her all the way back to the Motherhouse when Jesse is taken off the assignment. Jesse sees her as a little girl playing with a woman-shaped doll, sitting outside of her window and watching her, and describes a feeling of menace and anger radiating from Claudia. When Jesse is turned into a vampire by the end of the novel, she loses the ability to see and communicate with spirits, as is usually the case with vampires, and thus loses the ability to see Claudia.
The Tale of the Body Thief
Claudia's ghost again makes her presence known to Lestat in The Tale of the Body Thief, where she haunts him mercilessly in an attempt to make him feel the pain she believes he inflicted upon her when he turned her into a vampire as a child. Claudia's ghost and the ensuing guilt that Lestat feels drives him to a half-hearted suicide attempt in the beginning of the novel. Claudia haunts Lestat again when he is nearly dying in his mortal body and when, after recovering his vampire body, he goes to see Gretchen in the French Guiana.
The Vampire Armand
In The Vampire Armand, Armand tells his own story of what happened in the Théâtre des Vampires leading up to Claudia's execution: Claudia offered to leave Louis if Armand could give her the body of a woman, no matter how painful or violent this effort would be. Armand agreed to Claudia's demands and decapitated her, attempting to place her head – and thus her mind – on the body of another vampire woman, believing that the healing powers of vampire blood would allow Claudia to heal herself. The attempt failed and, with Claudia near death and Armand seeing that he could rid himself of her and have Louis to himself, he simply locked her in the air shaft with Madeleine and left them both to die.
In Merrick, the eponymous character Merrick Mayfair – a powerful witch and one of the descendants of the opulent witchcraft family described in Rice's The Lives of the Mayfair Witches trilogy – is contacted by Louis to seek out the ghost of Claudia. When Merrick summons her, Claudia returns with a vengeance and takes her rage out on Louis. Claudia attempts to drive a stake through Louis's heart and kill him. When Louis survives, Claudia disappears, apparently put to rest by taking revenge upon both of her vampire "fathers."
Merrick goes on to theorize that Claudia had already forgiven Louis, and that some of Claudia's rage during her reappearance was projected onto her by Louis's overwhelming guilt at her fate.
Claudia is never seen nor heard from again throughout the rest of The Vampire Chronicles.
Appearances in other media
- In Neil Jordan's 1994 film adaptation of Interview with the Vampire, Claudia is portrayed by Kirsten Dunst. Dunst was 11 years old at the time of filming, so that the producers could have an actress that could actually play the five-year-old immortal. Makeup and film tricks were used to make Dunst look younger for the role.
- In the short-lived Broadway show Lestat composed by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Claudia was portrayed by Allison Fischer. She was given two solos: I Want More and I'll Never Have That Chance.
- Louis, Lestat and Claudia all have non-speaking cameo appearances in Innovation Comics's adaptation of Rice's vampire short story The Master of Rampling Gate, illustrated by Colleen Doran.
- The Damned's 1982 album Strawberries contains the track "The Dog", which is written about Claudia.
- Rice, Anne. Interview with the Vampire. Alfred A. Knopf, 1976. ISBN 0-394-49821-6
- Rice, Anne. The Vampire Lestat. Alfred A. Knopf, 1985. ISBN 0-345-31386-0
- Rice, Anne. The Queen of the Damned. Alfred A. Knopf, 1988. ISBN 0-345-41962-6
- Rice, Anne. The Tale of the Body Thief. Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. ISBN 978-0-679-40528-3
- Rice, Anne. The Vampire Armand. Alfred A. Knopf, 1998. ISBN 978-0-679-45447-2
- Rice, Anne. Merrick. Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. ISBN 0-679-45448-9
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