24.2 | Anne Morey and Claudia Nelson

Phallus and Void in Kipling’s “The Vampire” and Its Progeny


On one level, Rudyard Kipling’s “The Vampire” (1897) and the works inspired by it, particularly Porter Emerson Browne’s “A Fool There Was” (1909) and its 1915 film adaptation, dramatize anxieties surrounding the woman’s superiority to male attempts at sexual domination. Freud’s contemporaneous theories on fetishism provide insight into the imagery of female void and male depletion central to these texts; poem, novel, and film all emphasize symbolic castration. As phallic woman, the vamp wreaks her revenge through actual or parodic maternity, giving men the option either of death through detumescence or survival by being turned into ersatz mothers.