Social Concerns / Themes
Feminism, religion, equality among and between the sexes, the importance of family, conflicting concepts of good and evil, and the beneficent evolution of humankind are the major social issues Rice addresses in Queen of the Damned. Akasha, the Queen of the Damned, represents feminism carried to a radical extreme. She is committed to changing the role of all women. Believing that the world's troubles have been caused by men, Akasha decides that ninety percent of the world's male population must be destroyed so that war, rape, and other violence can be ended forever. She contends that with women in power all over the earth, there would at last be universal peace.
Rice has said in an interview, "We can found a code of morality on ethics rather than outmoded religious concepts. We can base our sexual mores on ethics rather than on religious beliefs. Most of the activities in this century to stop war, to feed the hungry, and to provide medicine for the ill have been accomplished by rebels against religion rather than by people associated with religions." She develops these ideas through the speeches of Lestat, Maharet (mother of the Great Family), Narius, Louis, and all the other vampires who, by their very nature are godless but who are nevertheless highly moral in their concern for humankind, Akasha, queen of the damned, intends to establish a new religion with herself as supreme goddess in the mold of the Virgin Mary and "the ancient Mother . . . the mother whose tiny naked statues were now and then found in the earth."
In Queen of the Damned, allusions to Christianity abound, supporting the view that Rice's ideas about the power and expected obsolescence of religion are integral to the plot. Lestat, performing at his rock concert, is described as "Christ on the cathedral cross," recounting "his defeats, his resurrections." His concert is termed "this great Mass." The neophyte Daniel says, "Lestat was unkillable. He devoured the suffering forced upon him and emerged all the stronger. To join him was to live forever: This is my Body. This is my Blood." Lestat is in many ways a Christ-figure in his "mission" to show the way to others, to enlighten the world, to ruffle the feathers of those who would keep the masses ignorant and enslaved, and ultimately to risk all for the sake of humankind.
Sexual equality is so well handled that the readers may be lulled into an unconscious acceptance of the tender, loving, and even erotic relationships that male and female vampires have with each other without regard to gender. In fact, the closest and truest relationships are those between vampires of the same sex: Louis and Daniel, Maharet and Jesse, Narius and Armand.
Family is shown as the foundation of eternal life. Maharet, who has kept track of her descendants through the female line for six thousand years, says, "I turned to the family as if it were the very spring of life itself . . . the family was my guide through time and space. My teacher, my book of life. The family was all things." Rice elaborates the traditional notion of family to include our own ancestors and all their descendants, with the implication that all are related to all. After six thousand years, Maharet's descendants are everywhere: "there is no nation on earth...
(The entire section is 832 words.)