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General Spielsdorf (Carmilla)

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General Spielsdorf is a character in Sheridan Le Fanu's 1871 novella[1] Carmilla.

Cushing spielsdorf

Peter Cushing as Spielsdorf in The Vampire Lovers, an adaptation of Carmilla.

Plot Edit

In the novella, General Spielsdorf is the owner of a castle twenty miles to the west of Laura’s father’s castle.  Early in the story, Laura’s father receives a letter from Spielsdorf that his niece, Bertha Rheinfeldt, had died of a disease. He blamed her death on a “monster” who had come into his home and deceived him, and vowed to spend his days hunting the beast.   

When he returns, Spielsdorf relates his story to Laura and her father. He and Bertha had met a young woman named Millarca at a ball, who had charmed them into allowing her to live with them. Soon after Millarca moved in, Bertha fell ill, complaining of the same symptoms as Laura. Spielsdorf becomes suspicious that Bertha is under the influence of a vampire, and these fears are confirmed when he sees Millarca in the form of a beast in Bertha’s room. He attacks the vampire, but she flees and Bertha dies.   

Peter cushing ingrid

Spielsdorf killing Carmilla in The Vampire Lovers.

The General, along with Laura, encounters Carmilla in the ruins of Karnstein. The two become enraged and begin to fight, but Carmilla disarms him and disappears. He confirms to Laura that she is the same person that killed Bertha.   

Character Edit

General Spielsdorf plays a vital role in defeating Carmilla. He is the one who makes the connection between the vampire’s three aliases, and valiantly defends his niece from the beast. Even after she dies of her illness, he searches all the way to Vienna for a way to stop Carmilla from preying on other young women. Spielsdorf is a quintessential 19th century German nobleman; he is noble and honorable, defending friends and family. He is a military man, and often uses violence to face his enemies. Unfortunately for him, Carmilla is not easily defeated with swords and spears.

Spielsdorf’s role in the story as a martial opponent to the Countess Karnstein is similar to the character of the vampire hunter Van Helsing in Bram Stoker’s Dracula[2]

References Edit

  1. https://d2l.arizona.edu/d2l/le/content/563364/viewContent/4935345/View
  2. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/345/345-h/345-h.htm

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