2. The Vampire
2.1 Vampire legend
2.2 The classic Vampire – Bram Stoker´s Dracula
2.3 The Vampire in the Twilight series
3. The Werewolf
3.1. Werewolf legend
3.2 The classic Werewolf – The Werewolf of Paris
3.3 The Werewolf of the Twilight series
The supernatural has always had a strong appeal with human mankind. In the folklore of nearly every society, tales about supernatural beings can be found making this fascination universe. Supernatural creatures have also been protagonists of books, comics, music and movies for centuries haunting the audience´s dreams in the nights (Stanfield, p.1). Among all of them, vampires and werewolves seem to be the most enduring having made their way straight into the 21st century.
Today, Vampires and werewolves are everywhere with the Twilight series leading the way. The release of the four books by Stephenie Meyer can be seen as a major reason for the new hype about the supernatural beings in our time. It is the most popular series for children since Joanne K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. In 2008, “Eclipse” the third book of the Twilight saga ranked even higher than “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” pushing Joanne K. Rowling down to the second place of the bestseller list. The success was tremendous not only with young people but with an audience of all ages making the Twilight series the most commercially successful work on Vampires in the beginning of the 21st century (Anatol, p.1).
But how are Vampires and werewolves portrayed by Stephenie Meyer and how do these supernatural creatures differ from their ancestors in myth and classical literature?
Within the paper this question will be analyzed. Therefore, the history of the Vampire as well as the Werewolf legend will be traced back. The portrayal of Vampires and Werewolves in classical masterpieces of English literature as well as in the Twilight series will then be compared to the myth and to one another. In the end, the results will be interpreted.
2. The Vampire
2.1 Vampire legend
“Roots of the vampire myth lie deep in man´s written and oral history (Silver; Ursini, p.11).” The idea of vampirism can be found in many cultures all over the world. The Babylonians, for example, a civilization which lived more than 3,600 years ago, believed in the “ekimmu”. This was a bloodsucking demon trapped in the world of death not able to join the world of the living ever again. On the Philippines there is the legend of the ”aswang”, a Vampire-like creature with features of a mosquito and the Aboriginal people in Australia believe in the “Yara-ma-yha-who” which is described as a small, big headed, red man waiting on trees to attack strangers and suck their blood (Kallen, p.10-12).
In ancient Europe, the belief in Vampires was the strongest. Around 1700, the fear of the undead creature reached its climax within the population. Vampires were believed to exist all over Europe longing for blood, spreading fear and terror. In order to get rid of them, hundreds of dead bodies were exhumed and “staked” in that time as it was believed that the only way of killing a Vampire was driving a stake through its heart (Kallen, p.5).
As the Vampire legend has derived from so many cultures, it is difficult to come up with a universal definition or set of Vampire characteristics from this time. However, what all those myths and legends have in common is that a Vampire is characterized as “an evil spirit or monster which attacks the living for their blood (Davison, p.284).” Montague Summers, an English occult researcher, puts it like this:
In all the darkest pages of the malign supernatural there is no more terrible tradition than that of the Vampire, a pariah even among demons. Foul are his ravages; gruesome and seemingly barbaric are the ancient and approved methods by which folk must rid themselves of this hideous pest (Summers, p.1).
There are different explanations why Vampire legends emerged. One popular theory says that it is a human attempt to explain mysterious things. In earlier times, there were many of those things people could not understand like death through mysterious diseases, decomposition of the corpse or murders were no reason could be found. As humans are always searching for explanations it is no wonder that they came up with an evil creature being the universal reason for everything that would otherwise stay unexplained.
Another reason why Vampire legends might have occurred is the humans´ fear of death. People always want to know what happens after death because nobody could ever tell. They are afraid of death and do not want to accept the inescapability of it always trying to find a way out. Vampires as undead creatures are not affected by that concept. Becoming a Vampire might very likely be the only way to overcome death although it means to turn toward evil (Greene; Mohammad, p.384-385).
2.2 The classic Vampire – Bram Stoker´s Dracula
Vampires, of course, are supposedly immortal. But Varney wasted away in spite of his “Feast of Blood” and even J. Sheridan La Fanu´s literary classic, Carmilla, is badly in need of a transfusion. Of all the legions of undead in film and fiction, only the Count, born in the same area as Jack the Ripper, lives on (Bloch, p.28, as cited by Davison, p.19).
Bram Stoker´s “Dracula” was published in 1897. Never being out of print since that time, the novel belongs to the best selling ones in history. His famous protagonist “Count Dracula” has become the prototype of the Vampire in the late nineteenth and twentieth century being illustrated as the following (Davison, p.19-21).
When Jonathan Harker first meets the Count at the door of his castle, he describes his outer appearance: “(…) a tall old man, clean-shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere. (…) (Stoker, p.18 )”. First shaking hands, Jonathan realizes that the Count has a rather unnatural strength and that his hand is pale and very cold. He describes it as “more like the hand of a dead than a living man (p.18).” Later, when he sits by the fire and observes the Count, he describes him in more detail:
His face was strong – a very strong – aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils; with lofty domed forehead, and hair growing scantily round the temples, but profusely elsewhere. His eyebrows were massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion. The mouth (…) was fixed and rather cruel-looking, with peculiar sharp white teeth; these protruded over the lips, whose remarkable ruddiness showed astonishing vitality in a man of his years. (…) his ears were pale and at the tops extremely pointed; the chin was broad and strong, and the cheeks firm though thin. (…) [The hands] were rather coarse – broad, with squat fingers. (…) there were hairs on the palm. The nails were long and fine, cut to a sharp point (p.20).
In addition to all those rather unnatural features the Count wears a black cape and his eyes are sometimes described as “red gleaming”. He is very old being identified as the same “Dracula” who fought against the Turks in the fifteenth century (p.224). It seems that he has come to great wealth over those centuries as he lives in an old castle in Transylvania with very old furniture being of expensive and beautiful fabrics (p.21). This becomes even clearer when Jonathan finds a big pile of gold in the Count´s room (p.47). During the centuries, the Count has not only become very wealthy, but also well educated. He owns a library with newspapers, magazines and books of various topics and, according to Jonathan, speaks the English language excellently (p.22).
The Count neither has a reflection in the mirror, nor a shadow (p.38). He does not eat or drink (p.21) as he feeds on humans and drinks their blood in order to stay strong. Doing so, he even becomes younger (p.51; 160-161). He cannot just go into a potential victim’s house. The victim needs to come freely and Dracula needs to be invited in (p.18; 223). However, this might not be too difficult for him as he is able to hypnotize his victims and cause some state of stupor in a human´s mind (p.240; 228-229).
The Count can turn humans into Vampires by feeding on them and then giving the victims his own blood to drink (p.262). He even lives together with three female Vampires he has created (p.38-40). Those and also the other dead are at his command as well as all “meaner things” like rats or wolves. He can appear at will and transform himself into a bat, a wolf, fog and mist and even become bigger or smaller. He is able to control the elements, mostly the weather, see in the dark (p.221-223) and crawl down a wall like a lizard (p.35). During the day, he usually stays in a wooden earth box as he needs to sleep on the soil of his native land. When he rests is in some state of rigor with his eyes “open and stony” (p.48). However, although he is not able to react fully in that state, he still seems to realize what is going on. He can move slightly and still have some influence on his surroundings (p.51).
Although the Count is very powerful, he has some weaknesses. His power is reduced during the day. If he is not at his place he can transform himself only at noon, sunrise or sunset. He can be kept out or banished by sacred things like crucifixes or wafers and also by some flowers like garlic and wild rose. He can also be killed by cutting off his head, shooting him with a sacred bullet or driving a wooden stake through his heart (p.223-224). Once dead, he “crumbles into dust” (p.350).
In summary, Count Dracula, as described by Bram Stoker, is very close to the Vampire legend. He is a horrible, ugly monster, feeding mainly on innocent women, spreading terror and fear. However, Bram Stoker gives his Dracula also some kind of a “human side” characterizing him as well educated and with good manners. He also added many new concepts like being white, pale and cold, having no shadow, sleeping in a coffin, transforming into a bat etc. and thus created the stereotype of the Vampire which is still present today.
2.3 The Vampire in the Twilight series
The main Vampire protagonist in Stephenie Meyer´s novel is Edward Cullen who despite being a Vampire takes an active part in society and social live. He goes to high school, drives a Volvo and lives together with some other Vampires pretending to be a “normal” family” to keep up appearances in society (Meyer, Twilight, p.17). All Vampires of the Cullen family are described as “chalky pale” with special eyes that change from “very dark (…) with purplish, bruiselike shadows” when they are hungry to “a strange ocher, darker than butterscotch, but with the same golden tone (Meyer, Twilight, p.16; 39; 164)” when they are well fed. Their faces are described as “devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful” and all their features are “straight, perfect, angular”. Their skin is ice-cold and glitters in the sun “like crystal”. With all those features they attract humans as they are their natural food (Meyer, Twilight, p.231; 228). However, there is a choice they can make. Although they are very much attracted by human blood they are able to resist. Edward and his family only feed on animals calling themselves “vegetarians” which does not satisfy their thirst completely but still works (Meyer, Twilight, p.233; 162-164). Other Vampires do feed on humans therefore having eyes of a “deep burgundy color” (Meyer, Twilight, p.329). Vampires do not age, as their heart does not beat anymore they do not have a pulse or need to breathe (Meyer, Twilight, p.38; 295). They are very strong, fast and agile (Meyer, Twilight, p.231; 245). As Vampires some of them have special abilities. Edward for example is able to read people´s minds and Alice can look into the future. This is mostly referred to their strongest traits in human form (Meyer, Twilight, p.268). Vampires are able to transform humans into Vampires themselves by biting them and inserting their venom to the human system. The transformation itself is described as rather painful (Meyer, Twilight, p.252).
 All following quotes in this chapter are taken out of “Dracula” by Bram Stoker. Therefore, in the following only the page numbers are stated.
- Quote paper
- Lisa Günthner (Author), 2013, Vampyres and Werewolfes. Legend, classical literature and the Twilight series, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/276509