Slytherin Greatness: A Character Profile on Carmilla Karnstein

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So, uh, I’m really bad at keeping up with my own memes. No idea why— and, of course, I keep coming up with more. But, even though I leave them undone for months on end, that doesn’t mean they’ve been abandoned. Case in point, today’s post. But there’s no need for preamble. Let’s just jump into it!

Carmilla Karnstein


Carmilla (web series incarnation)


Why Carmilla Karnstein is a Slytherin

Media is full of broody vampires, from Edward Cullen to Stefan Salvatore to the legendary Dracula himself. Carmilla Karnstein is no exception. However, being dark and broody doesn’t inherently make a character a Slytherin. In fact, I’d argue that most (if not all) of the aforementioned vamps aren’t Slytherins. Except, of course, for Miss Carmilla Karnstein. Carmilla is self-serving, manipulative, and the queen of snarky nihilism. She’s also got that particular brand of loyalty that makes her someone you want in your corner. In short, she’s everything Draco Malfoy fans want him to be. And she does it all while rocking leather.

If anything is most evident about Carmilla, it’s that she cares most about her own interests. She obeys her mother (even when she has misgivings) in order to protect herself. She doesn’t care about saving the world. Whenever she does fight on the side of Team Good, it’s either because she’s doing it for Laura (the girl she loves) or wants to take down her mother. Sure, she eventually grows to care about the fate of the earth, but never as much as she does about Laura or stopping her mother.

Moreover, on more than one occasion, she is willing to throw it all away as long as it means Laura is safe. Even when this goes directly against Laura’s wishes. She just can’t help herself. She needs to keep Laura safe and alive. Not only is this borne out of her own self-interest, but its flames are fanned by her loyalty and ambition. She will achieve her goals using whatever means necessary. And, over the course of three seasons, she only has three goals: 1. Protect herself. 2. Protect Laura. 3. Take down her mother.

When it comes to manipulation, Carmilla most shines in season one. We learn of her centuries of befriending girls, only to lead them to their deaths. And, while it is on her mother’s orders and she doesn’t know what specifically happens to them (at least, not until Laura and her friends’ sleuthing), she says and does whatever she needs to get and keep these girls around her.

On a similar note, she often utilizes her vampiric nature in order to get what she wants. Typically, this is either through fear or good, old-fashioned vampire charm. That’s how she gets Laura to listen to her in the first place. And, if Laura hadn’t listened to her, where would Silas University be?

Though Carmilla will do anything to get someone to trust her (that is, when she wants it), she herself doesn’t trust easily. Jaded by centuries of manipulation from her mother, Carmilla knows better than to believe in just anyone. She knows people have ulterior motives— after all, doesn’t she? So, when she actually lets someone in, it’s monumental. And, as such, that person is treated with that Slytherin-brand loyalty. Essentially, it’s the nihilistic view of “Fuck me over? Fuck the world over? Who cares? But fuck over someone I care about? You’re done.” Out of all the characters on the show, the only two to earn her devotion are Laura and Mattie (and Mattie is always on thin ice). And once you lose her trust or get on her bad side? Look out!

There’s also something so Slytherin about her vampirism itself. Carmilla needs blood to survive, so she does what she needs to get that blood. There’s no “vampire vegetarianism” going on here. She gets to be the monster that she is and not feel any guilt for it. When she’s particularly set on a goal (whether that be stopping the Big Bad or just creating general chaos), she goes full throttle. There is no half-assing shit for her— even if lives have to be lost along the way. That said, if the benefit is greater to avoid as much collateral damage as possible, she will find a way to make that happen.

Of course, Carmilla’s nihilism sometimes overpowers her, and so she doesn’t see the point in even trying. This, also, is a particularly Slytherin-esque outlook. If the world is going to keep on sucking, why bother saving it? Why put yourself at risk when it won’t make a difference anyway? Why keep trying when all you seem to do is fail? However, with Laura’s help, this extreme band of negativity never stays around for long.

Whether or not the world is actively at stake, Carmilla is always armed with her wry, deadpan snark. Though snarkiness isn’t inherently a Slytherin trait, Carmilla’s brand of snarkiness is almost certainly the kind you’d hear down in the dungeons of Hogwarts. In fact, I’d argue the sarcastic nicknames are a downright Slytherin hallmark. The point is, it’s a brutal fate to be a victim of her sharp tongue.

On top of all this, Carmilla Karnstein embodies the Slytherin aesthetic so well. The black, the leather, the Resting Bitch Face— everything about this woman is something you’d find on a Tumblr post or Pinterest board of Modern Slytherin Aesthetics. There’s also the way she moves— slow, languid, and sultry. She’s the dark, borderline goth girl you’re simultaneously in love with and intimidated by. Pansy Parkinson, eat your heart out.

If I were to pick any character I’ve done a profile for so far to be the Face of Slytherin, it would have to be Carmilla Karnstein. She both acts and looks the part. She makes no apologies for who or what she is. In fact, you know the only reason she switches from Team Evil to Team Good? Laura Hollis. Not only do Carmilla’s feelings for her drive her to change sides, but Laura shows her that she doesn’t have to be owned anymore. It is in this way her sense of self-preservation and ambition change their face. But they don’t leave. No, Carmilla Karnstein is who she is, and neither I nor Laura would have her any other way.

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