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Background Edit

Luella Miller was a story from Mary Wilkins Freeman’s “The Wind In The Rose Bush”. The theme of this story is surrounding a Marxist Feminist vampire. The story does not say that Luella Miller is a real, blood-sucking vampire, but she is more of a metaphor.

Plot Edit

            Luella Miller lives in a town where people in her service work themselves to death. Her powers cause people to be completely obsessed with her to the point where they take care of her, wash and sew her clothes, cook for her, and do all this until they become sick and die. Once they die, someone else comes in and this starts all over again. The last person that becomes Luella’s helper is a woman named Lydia Anderson (who is the narrator). Lydia shares her story about Luella; Lydia says “There was somethin’ about Luella Miller seemed to draw the heart right out of you, but she didn’t draw it out of me.” Lydia loses her sister-in-law Lily to Luella too.

Theme Edit

            This story is similar to other vampire stories because it seems as though she does not want or mean to cause any harm to people. It does not seem like she has the ability to control her power of controlling others. Also, there is a point in the story where it can be inferred that she needs all these people to care for her because she cannot care for herself. When the townspeople finally realize what she is capable of, they do not help her anymore and she begins to weaken. This shows her as a parasite and portrays her as a vampire that only takes all the health and wellness away from others. This is a common theme that can be noticed for vampire stories throughout history.

Characters Edit

Luella Miller Edit

Luella Miller (born Hill) came to the village to be a teacher despite that she had no education herself. She is described as a beautiful lady with long, straight, fair hair and blue eyes. Her stature was slight but she was "as unbreakable as a willow." (Wilkins-Freeman) However, in they story we learn that she was quite powerless and relied entirely on other people to keep her alive.

When she married Erastus Miller, she quit her job to stay home and be taken care of. The narrator tells us that Erastus could not bare to let her do anything herself. "Wives, daughters and sisters were left at home all day to oversee the domestic duties that were increasingly carried out by servants."[1] In this atypical case, the servant was also the husband and the breadwinner. He felt compelled to do all the work on both ends for his beautiful bride and managed to work himself to death.

However, the rest of Luella's many helpers seem to be under the impression that she was too weak to do anything for herself. She claimed that she had never made coffee herself before. She broke out into hysterics whenever Lydia told her to do something for herself. Luella whined that she could not. Since Luella's childhood is never mentioned in the story, we never confirm that Luella simply had never been taught to do chores and did not dare to try, but we can rule out the possibility that she in evil spirits preferred to manipulate people into doing everything for her because the moment people stop helping her she actually dies. Thus we conclude that she was incapable of taking care of herself even when she tried.

However, Luella was shallow and self-absorbed. She showed no remorse when watching all the people around her work themselves to death in their attempt to help her. She showed concern when Lily Miller and her Aunt Abby become sick and die but it was clear she was more worried about who was going to take care of her from that point on. After a while, the town caught on to the fact that each person who helps her dies and they begin to shy away from her and suspect that "the days of witchcraft had come again." (Wilkins-Freeman) She seemed to lack any survival skills and dies when people begin to refuse to help her.[2]

After spending time helping Luella, each character is described as pale and lifeless. Each time Luella got a new helper, she became more vibrant. The comparison to a vampire[3] sucking the blood out of all their victims is clear. Years after Luella dies, no one dares to come close to her old house. After Lydia dies, they set fire to house. This is another parallel to vampire lore, which says that one way to kill a vampire is to burn them.[4]

Lydia Anderson Edit

Lydia narrates the story of Luella as she was the last person alive to know Luella personally. She is known for never missing a day of church. In old eastern european vampire folktales, such as Bucket of Blood[5] and The Peasant and The Corpse[6], there would often be a moral of the story, and often, characters that were faithful to the church were better equipped to withstand the vampire (think: crosses that keep vampires away). She was the first person to refuse to help Luella and instead tried (unsuccessfully) to motivate her to do things for herself. Ironically, she dies at the age of 87 outside of Luella's old house.

Erastus Miller Edit

He sold wood that he chopped himself. He had a sister named Lily. He married Luella and did all the housework for her until he dies.

References Edit

https://badreputation.org.uk/2013/12/06/luella-miller-a-marxist-feminist-vampire-story/

https://loa-shared.s3.amazonaws.com/static/pdf/Luella_Miller.pdf

Mary E. Wilkins Freeman Luella Miller (1903)

  1. https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/gender-roles-in-the-19th-century
  2. http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/ati/fht/fht2/nakagawa%20paper.pdf
  3. http://vampires.wikia.com/wiki/Vampire
  4. http://www.gods-and-monsters.com/how-to-kill-a-vampire.html
  5. http://vampires.wikia.com/wiki/Bucket_of_Blood
  6. http://vampires.wikia.com/wiki/Peasant_and_the_Corpse

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